I fell in love with Edward Cullen when I was 15. After watching Twilight, I went out and bought all four novels, which had conveniently been released before the screen adaptation got going. At the time, I was in the midst of my first "serious" relationship, but he would be graduating soon and moving away for college. As he began to pull away from me, I delved deeper into this fantastical world marked by mystery, adrenaline-fuelled adventures, romantic gestures of near comical scale, and, well, incidentally, vampires.
I knew little about romantic love, and even less about the inner workings of adolescent men. I didn't have the tools or wherewithal to understand the ways in which the story's central relationship — and truthfully, my own — might be toxic. Were there a Twilight novel from Edward's perspective offered to me at that time, I would have consumed it without question. Over a decade later, Stephenie Meyer has done exactly that, but the circumstances have changed, and I'm no longer a teenager. How do you dive back into what once meant something to you, long after you've moved on? And why would you?
How do you dive back into what once meant something to you, long after you've moved on?
Earlier this year, Meyer confirmed that she was releasing a fifth, and supposedly final, novel in the series on Aug. 4. Midnight Sun would be a retelling of the events in the first instalment from Edward's point of view, as opposed to our former familiar protagonist and heroine, Bella Swan. The author had actually written and planned on releasing the companion piece in 2008, around the time of the first movie, but she ultimately scrapped her plans after the manuscript leaked online. The state of Midnight Sun then was more so "an exercise in character development that got wildly out of hand," Meyer recently told The Hollywood Reporter.
All these years later, however, Meyer was ready. "I don't know how everyone else is coping, but right now books are my main solace and happiest escape. Personally, I would be nothing but delighted if one of my favourite authors announced something new for me to read," she wrote in the announcement up on her website. "I hope this announcement gave you some pleasure and something fun to look forward to."
The timing is indeed right, and the new instalment may help occupy all the free time at home we've suddenly inherited as a result of the pandemic, but Meyer must have been gearing up to release Midnight Sun long before. So, why now? The optimist in me thinks Meyer may have felt an authorial duty to finally complete that "exercise in character development" so she could formally share it with the world, while the pessimist just thinks there's more to be tapped from that financial well. The realist can't come to the phone right now.
"We had a lot of fun, didn't we?"
Meyer herself acknowledged Midnight Sun's abrupt entrance, or reentrance, rather. "Working on a book for more than thirteen years is a strange experience. I'm not the same person I was then. My children have all grown up. My back got weird. The world is a different place. I can only imagine all the things that have changed for you," her statement read. Then she wrote something that really got me: "We had a lot of fun, didn't we? Throwing proms and hanging out in hotel rooms and reading on the beach (while getting the most epic sunburns of our lives). We made hilarious t-shirts and fabulous websites. We found kindred spirits that are still in our lives now. I hope going back to the beginning of Bella's and Edward's story reminds you of all that fun, too."
We did have a lot of fun, but I think my journey with Twilight is meant to resemble high school itself. You write "keep in touch" in classmates' yearbooks, and you do, at least for a little while until you eventually speak less and less. Then not at all.
I still don't know if I'll end up reading Midnight Sun. I don't currently have plans to, but I'm also fully aware of the fact that my curiosity is capable of overcoming any of the aforementioned doubts and hesitations, only to leave me reading the whole thing in one sitting some moody fall weekend. And I'm sure it will be fun.