The draft was FASCINATING, even in its raw form. It was amazing—clear evidence of Stephenie’s increasing technical skill to accompany her phenomenal storytelling gift. It promises to be as good as Breaking Dawn, or even better. It illustrates how good at writing Stephenie was even when she wrote Twilight. Because she makes us agree with her narrator, even if we know better.
We see it most clearly in The Host. She shows us a parasitic, self-righteous, expansionistic society of alien worms, who have nearly destroyed the whole human family. And then she makes us love them. It is blatant skill in The Host. It is subtler in the Twilight series.
We have, in Midnight Sun, a completely different, yet internally consistent, view of the character we know best, the narrator of hundreds and hundreds of pages.
Even those of us who recognize that a teenager moving away from a place she loves so her mother can be happier must be selfless—even those who know that she shows qualities of kindness, maturity, independence, love—have a difficult time really appreciating Bella. Because she doesn’t appreciate herself.
Stephenie wanted Midnight Sun to explain Edward to the world, but we already know him. We know his real value. We have seen him for who he is, who Carlisle knows he is, who Bella knows he is, and who Jacob finally admits he is. We don’t really need Edward’s internal thoughts and feelings to explain who he is. After all, he doesn’t see himself any more clearly than Bella does.
What we all needed was an explanation of why Edward fell for Bella, what makes her so special, why he loves her. And the amazing thing is that he loves her for all the qualities that were already there, but that she doesn’t value about herself.
Midnight Sun, the partial draft, leaves me wanting more. More Edward, and Alice, and Carlisle, and Rosalie, and Emmet (Stephenie gives him the funniest line in the book. “She lives in Forks, remember? So she gets rained on.”) More of the real Charlie, the real Bella, and more of the love Edward feels for Bella, which is surprising in its scope, its timing, and its intensity in this partial book. Not surprising in that it is unbelievable, or inconsistent with his words and actions in the other books. But surprising because Bella, herself, would be surprised.