In case you’ve been living under a rock, Stephenie Meyer recently announced the publication of Midnight Sun, her much hyped retelling of Twilight from Edward’s point of view. And while the internet is freaking out in anticipation, I…could not care less.
To be clear, I’m very happy for everyone who is super excited! I am not trying to take away from that in any way, shape, or form. I just have absolute no interest in this book, despite being a huge fan back in the day (I totally went to the Breaking Dawn midnight release party at my local Barnes & Noble). And it’s just really weird that I have not even the smallest flicker of desire to read this book. (Also, I’m sorry, but I can’t show an image of the cover in this post. It’s so bad.)
It got me thinking about other authors who have famously returned to their beloved series, and why I had interest in those but not Twilight. The Hunger Games, for instance, is the perfect example. It was published shortly after Twilight, was also turned into a wildly successful movie franchise, and hasn’t been heard from in a while. But for some reason, I’m significantly less opposed to the forthcoming The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes than I am to Midnight Sun (though I’m not sure how excited for it I really am — I still haven’t preordered it).
I think part of it is, as Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader identified when I discussed this with her, that Twilight felt like a complete, contained story that I didn’t need anything else from. Not that I particularly need more from Katniss and Peeta, but at least The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a true prequel focusing on a different character. And more importantly, it’s not a retelling of a story I’ve already read from a different point of view. I feel like it has more to potentially add to the world of The Hunger Games than Midnight Sun can contribute to the world of Twilight, which makes Midnight Sun feel a lot more like a money grab in comparison.
The main thing I want to discuss, though, is which series revisitations interest me and which don’t, because once I started thinking about it, I realized there are A LOT of authors who have been going back to beloved series lately.
One of the first ones that comes to mind is La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, the first in a planned prequel/sequel trilogy set in the same world as his beloved His Dark Materials trilogy. I have to admit, as much as I loved this trilogy growing up, I actually don’t have any interest in these new books. I did buy La Belle Sauvage, but two and a half years later, I still haven’t read it. I’d have to reread the original trilogy first, and it’s just not something I really feel like doing. So I haven’t bothered, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if I ever will.
That said, I was equally obsessed with the Sabriel trilogy by Garth Nix around the same time as His Dark Materials, and I was nothing but delighted when I saw Nix was writing more books in the world of Ancelstierre (Clariel and Goldenhand). I wonder if part of it is because there hasn’t been any movie or tv series to hit me over the head with, but I think a lot of it is that this series has just stuck with me more over the years. And I love that he’s revisiting different timelines and characters and parts of the Old Kingdom. You definitely get nods to the original trilogy, but they’re very much their own books!
Speaking of movie franchises that won’t leave you alone, I have not and will never read The Cursed Child. I’m sorry, but the series had been done for almost ten years by the time that play came out, and it wasn’t even a book OR solely written by JK Rowling! By that point, I had resolved myself to the ending of the original trilogy and imagined my own continuations of their story, and I didn’t need anything else. So I did not attend the midnight release parties, and while I’ve heard the stage production is actually really good, I’m happy to lay Harry Potter to rest and move on to something else. My love and nostalgia for this series can only be stretched so far, and it’s about at it’s limit.
Changing gears and moving into romance, I feel like I should be annoyed that Julia Quinn won’t stop writing about the Bridgertons. But I still genuinely love those books, and I thought it was a really smart move to go back a generation with the Rokesby series instead of taking the traditional move of giving all of the kids stories. Plus they very much feel like their own books, and you really don’t need to have read the original series in order to enjoy the new books.
Similarly, I should be annoyed with Lisa Kleypas for writing about children from the Wallflowers series, but I’m actually not. I think it works for me because the Ravenels are largely their own books, and they only intersected with the Wallflowers for one book. But of course, everyone wound up falling in love with Sebastian and Evie’s kids in their own right, so I’m more than fine with Kleypas’ decision to keep writing more books about the Wallflower children. Honestly, I’ve been eased into it enough that I might even be ok with an entire series about Wallflower/Hathaway children, though I don’t need it.
I’m sure there are others, but these are some of the first series revisitations that come to mind, and of course, we can debate whether it counts as revisiting if the author finishes the series and then goes straight into another series in the same world, like Pierce Brown, V.E. Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Rick Riordan, Ilona Andrews, and Sarah J. Maas have all done.
Then there’s the question of whether it counts if an author has a series of different works set in the same world and has been dabbling in that world for decades, like Tamora Pierce. I guess she’s technically revisiting old characters with the Numair Chronicles, but she’s been in and out of Tortall so much that I’m not sure. I also never read the original books involving Numair, so I really can’t comment.
It’s unfortunate that I’m incredibly underwhelmed and not at all interested in Midnight Sun, but I really want nothing more to do with these books and don’t think retelling the first book from a different character’s perspective adds any value, and in fact is annoyingly repetitive of the first book. If Edward’s point of view wasn’t necessary in the original book, it’s certainly not necessary more than a decade later. But that’s just me, and I envy everyone’s excitement for Midnight Sun. I wish I could be excited with you! But alas.
With some of the other trips back to beloved series, I think a lot of it depends on how much I still like those books, how the author approaches it, and what kinds of stories the authors ultimately tell. I think generally I’m happy to leave those worlds behind and just enjoy them by rereading, but I’ve clearly enjoyed a lot of them, so it’s definitely not a complete waste!
What do you think of Midnight Sun, or of authors revisiting their popular books? Are there any you think have done it particularly well? Let me know in the comments!