Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Edward Creeps Me Out (Ch. 16 – 17)

Is it read-worth?

I’m actually starting to enjoy Midnight Sun, but I think that’s just because I love having things to complain about and this book gives me plenty. I find Edward so deeply unnerving. He makes me incredibly anxious. His relationship with Bella is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. Of course, they’re not nightmares in the horror story vampire sort of way, but I’ll take what I can get. Creepy abusive stalker boyfriend? I guess it works. 

You know what doesn’t work? The absolute romanticization and normalization of Edward’s behavior. The Twilight series is 100% marketed towards young female readers. Telling them that controlling boyfriends are the epitome of romance isn’t healthy. Maybe if this was a spoof, or if it made it clear that this behavior is unhealthy, I’d be fine with it, but it doesn’t and I’m not. 

I find it profoundly concerning that Edward is so completely comfortable sitting in Bella’s room while she sleeps. She has no idea that he is even there. Even when Charlie enters the room, Edward doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t think there is a chance in the world that anyone will notice him. He. Is. So. Comfortable. There. And no one in his family has ever called him out on this horrible behavior. I hate it. 

It is very creepy and very scary and a very unhealthy, controlling pattern of behavior. The fact that Stephanie Meyer keeps returning to him sitting in Bella’s bedroom is driving me insane. I don’t want to read about him stalking Bella anymore. This isn’t a romantic gesture. This isn’t cute. Why is she pretending that it is?

If you think stalking is cute, you need to realize it isn’t. Do not be Edward.

I also hate the fact that Edward stalks Bella seemingly 24/7. He always knows what she is doing. Even when he’s outside of her room, in the woods, he knows every move she makes. He knows what part of the house she is in. When she has a conversation with her father, Edward can hear every word they speak. He knows everything that happens in her life. Bella has absolutely zero privacy. I found it insanely disturbing when Midnight Sun disclosed the extent to which he listened to her conversations at school. Finding out this behavior extends to every part of her life is… violating to an extreme. It feels like she’s his property to protect, not his potential partner. They are not equals if he feels like he can involve himself in every facet of her life. 

And can you imagine that happening in your own life? Wouldn’t you feel claustrophobic and anxious? I would always be watching what I’m saying and thinking about how someone always has their eyes on me. I would be frightened. It is not romantic. It is scary. People do this in real life to their partners and it is toxic, harmful behavior. Everyone has a right to privacy. Bella is not Edward’s prisoner.

It is very strange that no one ever calls Edward out on how toxic it is. I feel like Alice must know the real extent to which he watches Bella, at the very least. She can probably see him do it. Yet, she never says anything about it. Instead, she acts like it makes sense because Bella is just a fragile human. He has to watch her or she might die. 

The other Cullens know, at the very least, that Edward sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep. No one finds that strange either. How is the entire family normalizing such invasive patterns of behavior? I am surprised that Rosalie hasn’t mentioned how awful his behavior is. It is not okay to say that it is alright for Edward to act like this just because Bella is human. That is a poor excuse. It also leads to the development of further controlling behavior that occurs later in the Twilight series. The toxic and abusive nature of their relationship compounds as Edward gives himself more and more leniency in regards to controlling Bella’s behavior. He just excuses it as “for her benefit.”

But back to the chapters. When Bella is talking about her truck being old enough to be Edward’s car’s grandfather, I do wonder why Edward doesn’t immediately make the connection between their own ages. He could be Bella’s grandfather a couple of times over. Considering his own internal dialogue of self-pity and hate, I wonder why the age difference doesn’t bother him quite as much. I understand that he still has the body of a teenage boy, but his mind should have (at least in part) developed beyond that point. Edward even points out the difference in his maturity levels versus other teenagers. Does that not play any role in his relationship with Bella?

During their truck ride, Bella also discloses that she made sure no one knew she would be with Edward that day. Her father had no idea and she told Jessica that Edward had cancelled. If he accidentally kills her during their day trip, no one will associate it with him. It won’t create problems for him.

I remember that, in the original Twilight book, this was supposed to be a kind, caring, selfless gesture for the man that Bella loves. But it didn’t really come across as that then and it doesn’t really now. It’s just stupidity. Bella is a young teenage girl that just met this guy. Why should she risk her life for a boy she barely knows? Answer: she shouldn’t. 

I do enjoy the fact that Edward agrees that her reaction to his warning was uncalled for: “I hadn’t told her so she would try to make herself more vulnerable to me. I’d told her so she would run away from me.” Bella was never supposed to feed into the dangers Edward presents. She was supposed to be wary.

However, I do wonder if his reaction to her statement was genuine. Obviously Edward doesn’t really want Bella to avoid him. I wonder if his warnings were subconscious manipulation of her. The more you act like you’re being completely honest with someone, the more they will trust you. His warning obviously had the opposite response of what he was supposedly going for, but I wonder if he expected that, at least in part. Bella seems to prefer acting in ways that demean her own self worth. She doesn’t argue or stand up for herself or protect herself from killer vampires. 

I feel like that lack of self preservation in Bella kind of relates to her upbringing, however. Even in their conversations about Bella’s mother, Renee, it is obvious that, while Bella loves her mother, Renee is childlike and inconsiderate. She doesn’t take personal responsibility for things. Bella grew up mothering her mother instead of being catered to like the child she was. Would her sense of self preservation be stronger if she had ever been her mother’s priority? Or would she still insist on sacrificing parts of herself, even her life, for the benefit of others?

When they arrived at the trailhead, I was actually distracted from all of that musing by how distracted Edward was by Bella’s bare skin. I had no idea that someone could be so fascinated by bare arms. It is not exactly the most scandalous or revealing apparel. Wouldn’t he be more distracted seeing Bella sleeping every night? It was so weird.

And then I found myself distracted by that train of thought with a question… Why doesn’t Edward’s heart beat? Even if he’s a vampire, how else would nutrients and blood pass through his system? What is animating him? It could just be that his heart beat is so minimal that it’s practically undetectable, but it doesn’t feel entirely possible that his heart just doesn’t beat period. What would be the point in drinking blood if it can’t run through your entire system? I’m so confused. I want a scientific explanation behind vampirism in the Twilight universe more than anything else. Can’t Meyer just change one scientist into a vampire and have them perform a series of studies? I want to understand how it all works. 

I could be getting so distracted by such trivial matters because of how sick I am of Edward though. He is so melodramatic that it causes me physical pain. Everything about his ongoing internal dialogue is beginning to wear on me. This whole “monster in the shadows” vibe is just absolutely exhausting. I’m not enjoying it anymore. 

Plus, I don’t really know how realistic it is that every good vampire in the Twilight universe hates themselves. Why do they all feel like monsters all the time? It’s so cliche. Vampires are inhumanly beautiful and strong. They glow in the sunlight. The Cullens do all of this and don’t even ingest human blood. Personally? I’d feel more like a god than a monster. 

I also find it unrealistic that Edward seems to think Bella is going to be absolutely terrified and turned off by his sparkly skin. I understand that he was horrified by the sight of Carlisle, but thinking back on that now it was probably because that was the moment where he realized he was no longer human. He was distantly other. Bella has not been scared of almost anything vampire related to date. Why would his glittering skin be the last straw? It is more of a beautiful oddity than a terrible sight.

After Bella and him begin to relax in the field together, I also had a good bit of confusion regarding Edward’s distraction techniques. The sudden burst of mathematics does not seem to fit his character. Edward never seemed especially inclined towards mathematics prior. I understand he was trying to distract himself from the allure of Bella’s blood, and he’s supposedly very intelligent, but it seemed like such a strange transition from his normal brooding self. If anything, he seems like the type of person who would distract himself with theoretics and philosophy, not try to do math in his head. The second musical distraction made much more sense. 

It is also incredibly strange that the most sexual tension the Twilight series has ever had is when Edward is close to killing Bella. Isn’t that a bit messed up? I read once that Meyer avoided premarital sex to appeal to a more religious audience. I don’t know how true that is, but I can believe it. It just seems completely strange that a scene where Edward is close to murdering someone is more sexually toned than actual scenes where Bella and Edward have physical contact. 

I am also slightly confused by Edward’s constant back and forth in regards to the perceptions humans have of him. He seems to believe that everyone is simultaneously drawn towards him and intensely repulsed by him. When Bella leans in to smell him and he has that moment of weakness where he must lung away from her, Edward begins to think about how he is designed to be the perfect snare for human prey. His face, his voice, and even his smell are supposed to draw people in. So it’s slightly confusing that 50% of people are extremely attracted to him and the remainder are almost always creeped out by him. I wish these two sensations could be described in conjunction with each other at least once. Maybe it’s some type of natural human intuition to be fearful of something so unnaturally beautiful, or some inner warning signal. I’d love to go into more detail eventually.

When they begin talking about the Cullen’s family’s moments of weakness in regards to human blood drinking, I did find it more than a little bit sadistic that Carlisle requires the family to attend the funerals of anyone they have harmed. When Emmett killed his two victims, he was present at their funerals. He had to listen to people talk about the person that they have lost. He had to watch them cry and feel pain. In no way does him bearing witness to that make up for the damage that he caused. 

If anything, it comes across more as adding insult to injury. You wouldn’t attend a funeral for the cow you eat. It wouldn’t make a difference to the cow. It wouldn’t make the cow’s family feel better. You already killed and ate the cow. Someone definitely wouldn’t forgive the person who murdered them just because they showed up for the funeral and felt bad for a while. The only thing it would do is make you, the murderer, feel better. Edward was exactly right when he said their attendance at the funeral and any money they sent to the victim’s family was a “weak recompense.”

After so long of a life, I also found it concerning that Edward believes he’s in love after knowing Bella for such an incredibly short period of time. It is especially worrisome because their love is so all-consuming and complete. There is very little to no room for growth in their relationship. 

Even in books about soulmates, their love tends to start small and grow larger. It isn’t necessarily immediate and total. For example, the Night World series by LJ Smith is almost entirely based around soul mates meeting, but they are almost never immediately in love. They have to get to know each other first. It takes time. I wish Twilight had followed a similar route.

Instead, it seems to have no scope for the growth of relationships. Almost all of the other strong relationships in this series involve one moment where the couples know they’re in love – Jasper and Alice, Rosalie and Emmett, and Esme and Carlisle. All love is spontaneous and complete. Or else it has a short shelf life such as in the case of Bella’s parents.

And that’s not necessarily just a vampire thing either. Werewolf imprinting is also included in that description. That love may change in nature as the years pass, but it never gets stronger beyond that point. It is always unbreakable. 

Beyond just wishing for that type of relationship to be tweaked a little bit, I wish that some of the relationships included break ups and life changes. The Cullens are immortal. It is odd to think that they will spend their entire existence with one person. Do vampires really never change as the world around them changes all the time? It’s very weird to think about, but that could just be my humanity showing.

I am also not really sure I find the concept of someone’s “second half” to be as compelling anymore either. In high school I thought the idea of someone being your perfect match to be quite romantic. The idea that you’re not complete until you find the right partner for you? It seemed to make sense to me. How can you be whole if you’re alone? I don’t agree anymore. I think I’d rather spread this idea that people, “even” women, are everything they need to be and more. They don’t need someone else to make themselves complete. They just need to focus on developing themselves and their own strengths. You are complete by yourself; work on that. 

Maybe that idea wouldn’t work too well for a book though, especially one like Twilight. Romance books feed off of the idea of a perfect match. I have enjoyed books with similar ideas before though – books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – so maybe they’ll become more popular and it’ll be easier to see that there was something there after all.

I am curious as to what a Midnight Sun version of New Moon would hold for us as readers now that I’m thinking about werewolves. Obviously Bella and Edward are not together for most of that book. I can’t imagine how annoying Edward will be if Meyer decides to adapt that storyline to his perspective as well. Will the entire book just be long-winded monologues about how sad he feels for himself? 

However, I am excited that it would be a long break from thinking about Bella and stalking Bella. Maybe Edward could make a friend? His entire life seems to be defined by Bella though so I don’t really know how Meyer would pull off a whole book without her. It’s not like Edward does anything interesting during his free time. Are we just going to read about him pouting for an entire book?

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