Recently author Stephenie Meyer announced that the long awaited release of her new Twilight Saga novel Midnight Sun will hit shelves August 4, 2020. While it will officially be released this year, there was a leak in 2008 followed by Meyers posting the leaked chapters herself on her website and announcing that she would take an indefinite break from the project, which lasted over a decade; however, she would later take these chapters down.
Many Twihards got their hands on the now infamous, unpublished chapters, which was a recount of Twilight’s events from a different perspective, following Edward Cullen’s account about his immortal love story. Currently, only Chapter One, “First Sight,” is now available to read on Meyer’s website. However, since fans were able to read the early drafts of the chapters in 2008, they got a sense of what the published novel could have to to offer, and it seems some of those early ideas are present in this finalized chapter.
The early chapters of Midnight Sun share a lot of details about what’s going through Edward’s mind when he first encounters his singer – a human whose blood is more tempting than others – and what stops him from instantly killing Bella. It comes down to his admiration for his adoptive father Carlisle, who’s raised the coven to be vegetarian. He did not want to disappoint Carlisle, so he ignores Bella during biology and tries to switch to a different period. When the school day is over, Edward’s psychic sister, Alice, tells him that Bella is Police Chief Charlie Swan’s daughter, giving him another reason not to kill her.
Fans of the novel know that Charlie adores his daughter and is happy to have her back in his life, so if he were to lose her, it would cause more trouble for the Cullens. Bella’s death would destroy Charlie, and his parental relationship with Bella is a major factor in Edward’s decision to pursue her romantically. This was clear from Bella’s perspective, but it makes a lot of sense that it will be developed more so from this switch in narrator.
The opening chapters not only give an insight into Charlie Swan, but they also provide more detail about the life of the Cullen family, known as the Olympic Coven, and their friends, the Denali Coven of Alaska. Edward flees to Alaska after his disturbing first encounter with Bella, which is mentioned in the Twilight Saga, but the details about the visit come to light in Midnight Sun, and this shows readers the bigger world of vampires and their covens.
Furthermore, the opening chapters signal potential shortcomings if Myers hasn’t changed them since the leak. Based on these pages, the problematic depictions of gender from the original series will still be present. Early in the first chapter, Edward expresses misogynistic views about his adopted sister Rosalie. Not only that, but much of the internal monologue about his female classmates conforms to the stereotypical portrayals of women in the Twilight Saga books.
In the leaked chapters, there is also a scene where Edward and Emmett discuss the vulnerability of humans, with Edward spending a great deal of time agonizing about any potential harm Bella could experience, regardless of if she deals with vampires or not. This scene has its moments of lighthearted comedy, but it also signals a potential “explanation” for Edward’s stalking and abusive behavior since in his eyes Bella is almost always helpless. By justifying his problematic behavior, Meyers further perpetuates that his actions are permissible and romantic when they are inappropriate and manipulative.
It’s concerning to see this abusive and misogynistic behavior continued, and it raises questions about how Meyers has handled other criticisms about her original series, like the racist depictions of Native Americans. She originally took inspiration from the Quileute Nation in La Push, Washington and then appropriated their culture to fit her fantasy narrative. Many characters in the original story, particularly Edward, held racist views towards the Native characters, so re-introducing them from Edward’s point of view could exasperate the racism of the Twilight Saga.
While potentially flawed, Midnight Sun has the chance to be an exciting return of a beloved franchise. There is comfort in reuniting with an old favorite, and by doing so with a different narrator, not only can fans return to the story and characters they loved, but they can also experience a wider world and different perspective. If the early chapters of Midnight Sun are anything to go off of, fans will learn more about Edward, the rest of the Cullens, the citizens of Forks and the larger supernatural world while continuing to grapple with problematic depictions of love.
Twihards originally read the leaked chapters of Midnight Sun in 2008, but what can those chapters tell fans about the new book coming this August?