In defense of Edward Cullen (and a Midnight Sun review)

Stephenie Meyer doesn’t need my help. She’s successful, countless readers love her stories, and she has made her money, despite the nastiness that has been directed at her Twilight Saga. I’m sure it doesn’t bother her at all at this point. Edward Cullen doesn’t need my help either, because he is, in fact, a fictional character.

A little of my history with Twilight:

I was a grown-up woman when I read Twilight. I wasn’t the target demo, but I didn’t care. After a long period of college, work, marriage, 4 babies, and a divorce, my pleasure reading had taken a hit. I credit Twilight with getting me back into reading in my late 20s and helping me escape, for just a little bit, into fantasy. I read all of the books as they came out and watched all of the movies, too. Loved it all, and I never felt a bit of shame for that. By the time the last movies came out, one of my daughters was a tween who loved them as much as I did. Bonus bonding time!

Last summer, I reread all of the books, this time on audiobook, and my then 17-year-old daughter and I spent a fun weekend binge watching all of the movies. Both held up, and I still felt no shame.

Now, Meyer has released Midnight Sun, which is just the story in Twilight, retold from Edward’s perspective. I usually have no desire to read this type of book, but I’m not mad about this probable cash-grab, because I have room in my life for more Edward Cullen.

A little book review:

Midnight Sun is a solid book. Not merely a rehashing of the events of the first book—there’s quite a bit added in, since we are experiencing the story from Edward’s side. He wasn’t always with Bella, so there were some things going on that she didn’t know about, and there is quite a bit more fascinating Cullen family history. And of course, this book gives us Edward’s internalized thoughts. I loved watching him be floored by his feelings for Bella and emotions that he’s never experienced in his long years. Plus, for my money, he’s much less annoying and whiny than Bella was. 😉 I know I was not alone in wondering, when reading the first book, how the two of them could have fallen so hard and so fast for each other, but I really think this book clears that up. I sort of fell for Bella, too, seeing things through the Edward lens.

“What guardian angel would have allowed Bella to come here, to cross my path, formed as she was in such a fashion that there was no way I could possibly overlook her? A ridiculously potent scent to demand my attention, a silent mind to inflame my curiosity, a quiet beauty to hold my eyes, a selfless soul to earn my awe. Factor in the total lack of self-preservation, so she was not repelled by me, and then of course add the wide streak of appalling bad luck that put her always in the wrong place at the wrong time, there could be no stronger evidence that guardian angels were a fantasy.”

The writing is good, but I don’t care what they say, it was never that bad. Meyer definitely improved as the original series went along, and Midnight Sun shows even more growth and polish. I was happy being back in this world, and I absolutely loved being in Edward’s head for it. I sincerely hope Meyer goes for it and writes the rest of the series this way. I, for one, would love an Eclipse without Jacob. I kid! But no, really.

The audiobook is very well narrated by the very cool Jake Abel, who I thought was a great voice for Edward.

This book is really all that a Twilight fan, especially an Edward Cullen fan, could hope for. It’s not a new story, but it gives us so much more background and depth, and is satisfying in a way I did not expect.


A little rant that no one asked for:

When the Twilight craze was in full swing, I was a bit bothered by the way some people tried to tear apart the author, the stories, and the people who enjoyed them because of what they perceived to be an unhealthy relationship between Edward and Bella. I’m even more bothered now by the reviews of Midnight Sun that I’ve seen where former fans are now towing that line and claiming their changed views are because they are older and realize now that the relationship was toxic, Edward was horrible, misogynistic etc.

Edward is a VAMPIRE, traditionally a monster in horror books. The story is fantasy about how a monster fell in love with a human, successfully overcame his vampire instinct to literally kill and eat her, and instead was able to care for her and keep her relatively safe and alive. Comparing Edward and Bella’s fantasy relationship to that of a real human couple is ridiculous. To say it’s toxic because he’s controlling, too old for her, obsessive, stalkerish, whatever, completely disregards the fact that Edward is a freaking VAMPIRE. Vampires, in nearly every story I’ve read involving different variations of them, are controlling (sometimes with literal mind control), obsessive, stalkers of prey. Edward is trying to do things differently and not be a monster, but he’s still a vampire and is going to do vampire stuff. As a super strong, immortal vampire, he is acutely aware of how fragile Bella’s physical human body and her life are, so it seems logical to me that he would be ridiculously worried about her safety when she’s not with him. As for the age thing… disregarding that he was a 17-year-old virgin himself when he died and was turned into a vampire, is he supposed to fall for 100 year old women only, because he’s been an undead vampire for so long and needs to stay in his age group? Is that somehow less creepy? How about if we just accept that he’s an undead vampire in love for the first time in his long life, and with a human no less? Because… fantasy!

Bella herself is no shrinking violet. She knew exactly what she wanted and went for it. She’s brave and strong and cares very deeply for her family, Edward, and his family. She is given all the space in the world to make her own decisions about her life, and she chooses a life with Edward. She wasn’t abused or manipulated. If you can suspend reality, which is something you really must do when reading fantasy, it’s possible to see that a lone human amongst a bunch of vampires might be in some danger of, oh, I don’t know… vampire attack? I don’t see that using that dynamic to fuel the action in the stories is misogynistic or anti-feminist. Bella does her absolute damndest to keep the Cullens safe, too.

Say what you want about Meyer’s writing (again, I don’t think she’s a bad writer, although the whole love triangle arc and the name Renesmee are questionable), but to say that she’s promoting toxic relationships is a bit silly. Did I mention that Edward is a vampire? If you want to read about or dissect human relationships, there are plenty of realistic fiction books out there depicting unhealthy relationships. If you don’t like the fantasy world that Stephenie Meyer created, that’s ok! Just maybe don’t waste your energy bashing the author, the books, and/or the people who enjoy them. Let the people who enjoy the fantasy of a nightmare monster falling in love with a human have their fun, and please, try not to belittle people for enjoying these stories.

I was a child when I first discovered the Dracula story and found something terrifyingly alluring about the monster. I was a preteen when I first thought vampires in The Lost Boys, despite being absolutely horrifying, remorseless murderers, were sexy and somewhat sympathetic. I did not, as a result, pursue toxic relationships and ruin my life. Neither did my now-teenage daughters who enjoyed the Twilight books and movies as impressionable tweens. I understood, as did they, that these stories are fantasy. Fantasy is not real life, and a lot of us read it specifically because of that.

Live and let live. Peace, love, and books for all. Oh, and #TeamEdward 4ever.

My week in books

I have started my month of NetGalley catch-up strong: five galleys finished this week, plus one more book I only listened to because I have a galley of the second book in the series.

Books I finished

The Lion’s Den by Katherine St. John Goodreads

There were elements to this book that drove me crazy, but can’t pan a book that sucks me in like this. If anything, I would have liked more steam with my trashy read. My full review is here on the blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London Goodreads

I received a NetGalley copy of this book in May, then got a cute hardcover when it was a BOTM selection pre-release in June, ended up reading and listening to a library copy of the audiobook in August. I really need to get better at this ARC thing! Full review here on my blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wonderland by Zoje Stage Goodreads

This book has some very mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. Well-written, slow-burn psychological horror. Full review on my blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine Goodreads

I really enjoyed this dystopian. It’s dark, gritty, and perhaps a little too realistic, which makes it even scarier. I can’t post my full review until 8/29… I’m doing a blog tour for the first time, and that’s my day. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Brontë’s Mistress by Finola Austin Goodreads

I was drawn to this book because of the Brontë connection and due to the fact that I’m a sucker for historical fiction centered on real people. I got all of that and a whole lot more than I was expecting. My full review of this exceptional debut novel is on my blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday Goodreads

I have a NetGalley copy of the second book in this series, so figured I should check out the first. This is a super cute contemporary romance set in a quaint little beach town in Ontario… while it does have some of the usual elements of modern romance, it’s also got a lot of wit and humor. And the sexy times were really hot, which was nice. I’m not a big fan of the narrator for the audio, so looking forward to book 2 on my kindle. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

I am currently working on another galley on my kindle, as well as re-reading Pride and Prejudice with a group on Litsy. It is so much fun to take this beloved story slowly this time.

Also, I’m listening to the Midnight Sun audiobook, so I’m all up in my feelings about Edward Cullen at the moment. Don’t judge me. 😉