As mentioned in my previous post, “Throwback Thursday Review | Revisiting Twilight & New Moon: A Love/Hate Relationship”, Stephenie Meyer’s long-awaited Twilight companion novel, Midnight Sun, releases August 4th. For better or for worse, this is a big deal in the world of books. In anticipation of the new release this summer, I’ve been re-reading the series for the first time in about twelve years and reflecting on the experience as a twenty-something college student.
This may come off as controversial, but Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are the best books in the saga. Yes, Twilight is what started it all. It’s full of nostalgic goodness, and as far as first books go in a series, the story isn’t bogged down with character- and world-building. Though others may disagree, New Moon is a rougher read; perhaps it’s because I’ve never been “Team Jacob,” but I always believed this to be the most boring of the saga. But by the time we reach the second half of the series, the characters, world, and potential conflicts are all established— leaving Eclipse and Breaking Dawn to steep in delicious drama. We’re attached to the characters and most likely have deep-seated beliefs about all of the relationships and rules.
Part of why I love Eclipse so much is because it makes me angry. Who really knows what Meyer intended, but Jacob is undeniably infuriating in the third installment. He’s relentlessly perseverant, and it’s not cute. He completely disregards Bella’s rejections to his advances, instead insisting that she doesn’t know what she wants because she hasn’t given him a chance. Up until now, Jacob has been a bit annoying in his crush, but it isn’t until Eclipse that he tips the scale in the direction of unbelievability. I touched on Bella and Edward’s toxicity in my last review, but Jacob pushing himself on Bella and manipulating her isn’t any better. Yes, her relationship with Edward is unhealthy—but it’s her choice to make. And, somewhat surprisingly, choice is something that Meyer explores in interesting ways in the Twilight saga, from the choice of becoming a vampire to sex. Maybe that’s why Jacob challenging Bella’s decisions and making her doubt herself is so maddening.
Breaking Dawn is something else entirely. It could have easily been split into two books and expanded on all of the plotlines with how much happens in just one installment: the wedding, the honeymoon, the pregnancy and birth, Bella’s transformation, Jacob’s split from the pack, the Volturi misbelieving Renesmee is an immortal child, meeting all of the worldwide vampires, and more. And the wild thing is, even after all of these events happen, it’s still difficult to set the series down and be satisfied. Somehow, even with all of its problems, this story lures you in and makes you never want to leave.
I didn’t expect to enjoy re-reading these books so much. And frankly, I’m not sure how I’d feel about them if I didn’t have prior attachments. I’m concerned about what Midnight Sun might drudge up—this series certainly wouldn’t have been so widely accepted had the storyline been introduced in recent years, and there are plenty of issues surrounding the characters and plotlines in hindsight. Hopefully, those who care to, will enjoy the new release but continue to think critically about what we read.
PRR Writer, Caroline Ross