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Stephenie Meyer–a name I know as well as my own–announced on Monday the impending publication of Midnight Sun on August 4th, a re-telling of the Twilight story from *cough sex symbol cough* Edward Cullen’s perspective. I just about lost my shit.
It’s taken me years to get to the place where I can talk about it without shame permeating every word—but years, in fact, have passed since this period of my life, so let me be clear: I was obsessed with the Twilight series.
Not a little obsessed, not “kind of into it.” Like full on stanatacism-on-level-12, can’t-think-about-anything-else kind of obsessed.
By the time I turned 13, I had spent all my time reading books that were above my comprehension level, and not in a cute way. The only thing I can remember from 100 Years of Solitude is that scene where two characters paint each other’s bodies in jelly and “lick it off like dogs.” Strange. Repressed. I did the same thing with my beat-up copy of Emma, where I barely could piece together the confusing verbiage but DEF knew I wanted Mr. Knightley to plant one on me. My point is: I didn’t have much exposure to young adult fiction.
So when two friends of mine in middle school plunked a copy of “Twilight” onto the picnic table next to my sad, sorry copy of Animal Farm (why are these animals so mean?) during lunch and said they had never read anything so thrilling in their entire lives–their entire lives!–I was ready for a tweenage revolution.
I spent the next three years of my life reading the steamy but chaste, PG-13 in theory but PG in fact pages of each of those books under my covers with an actual flashlight, Junie B. Jones style. Every day I read the Twilight Lexicon Blog, a stan blog that shared daily updates from the Twilight universe, including anecdotes of how much Stephenie Meyer loved to rock out to Muse while writing, or fan fiction inspired by 2-page passages from the book. My 15th birthday party (yes, I know) took place on the midnight release date for Breaking Dawn, and we stayed up all night inhaling popcorn and reading about the *spoiler alert* birth of a demonic-sounding vampire baby named Renesmée tearing a teenage girl in half. Darling.
After the lunacy that was Breaking Dawn compounded with the runaway train that was Twilight, the film, I started to see my obsession in a different light when I was 16. I felt ashamed that I didn’t recognize the weird, moralist subtext and the fact that the writing was (I’m sorry, Stephenie) mediocre at best. For years I used my previous love of Twilight as the punchline to the joke that is my existence, and people ate it up. I put my beat up copies in storage. I donated my shirt with the crest of the Cullens on it. I removed Twilight Lexicon Blog from my bookmarks.
But in the past year or so, I’ve noticed a curious turning of the tide in sentiment towards Twilight. In lockstep with the post-irony movement, the internet, and Twitter especially, has fully reclaimed Bella Swan’s story. Watching this transpire, I’ve felt the shackles of embarrassment shake off of me. I finally feel the sun on my glittering, adamantine vampire skin!!!
13 year old me watching twilight realizing ill never have cool vampire or werewolf boyfriend who loves me unconditionally and is willing to die for me pic.twitter.com/098bJ4KTZS
— alyah (@mkgeeminaj) July 24, 2019
if i die, spread my ashes where they filmed the twilight baseball scene
— taylor (@taynnlo) June 5, 2019
i'm sorry but people who shit on twilight's literary merit when new moon had those four blank pages that just read "october, november, december, january" after edward left bella…. like whew… pulitzer prize
— kyle (@kyle4prezident) February 14, 2019
— ryan (@oatmeaIboy) April 20, 2020
it’s cloudy and raining today y’all know what that means pic.twitter.com/gIq9cu48lG
— 𝔟𝔯𝔦 (@ufobri) March 10, 2020
Jokes aside, there’s something kind of beautiful about looking back on the absurdity of your teenage fanaticism and being able to embrace it, as opposed to wielding it as a pre-emptive shield from ridicule. Instead of prefacing my torrid history with feigned chagrin, I’m proud to own my previous status as Twilight hardo.
On August 4th–or I guess maybe the 5th, I don’t need to be that hasty, I’ll be buying Midnight Sun: I’ve already read it—illegally, that is, when it was leaked on the internet in 2008. It was hot and tense. That time around, I felt distinctly guilty about reading a writer’s work without having paid for it. Even though I’ve already read it, I’m too old and too settled in who I am to be ashamed of my component parts. I will walk away from my local bookstore unabashed. And I’ll always be a Twihard.
Feature Photo via Summit Entertainment.