As you might’ve heard by now, an unfinished draft of Midnight Sun, the fifth teenage-vampire novel from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, leaked to the Internet last week. In a statement on her Website, Meyer declared herself “too sad” to continue work on the book and said she was putting its completion “on hold indefinitely,” breaking the hearts of millions of fans and even more Barnes & Noble stockholders. Then, so her readers “don’t have to feel they have to make a sacrifice to stay honest” (?), she posted a PDF of the twelve leaked chapters for free download.
Obviously we can understand why Meyer might not be thrilled with the idea of her still-incomplete manuscript being passed around — like she says, it’s “messy and flawed and full of errors” — but is this really the worst thing that’s ever happened? First, only 294 pages of Midnight have leaked, and since her other books average over 600, fans will still have to buy the other half to find out how the thing ends. Second, are kids actually reading this? Our eyes start to burn halfway through most magazine articles posted online; we can’t imagine anyone staring at his computer screen for long enough to read a whole book. And wouldn’t printing this thing out cost nearly as much as a hardcover anyway? (We don’t know — we did it at work! Huzzah!)
Plus, Midnight is only a retelling of the original Twilight book from the perspective of a different character. Can’t a totally non-exciting “companion novel” only benefit from this kind of prerelease hype? Also, probably more important, with mixed reactions to Breaking Dawn, the recently published fourth Twilight book, doesn’t the controversy help unite a divided fan base, conveniently, just before the November release of the first-ever Twilight movie and, presumably, craploads of Twilight-themed merchandise?
Unlike some sue-happy authors of children’s fantasy novels, Meyer seems to appreciate the power of a rabid Internet community — she regularly helps fill in her characters’ backstories on fan Websites and even showed up at a bunch of Twilight proms for her readers last year — surely she’s savvy enough to see the silver lining on the Midnight leak. Hell, maybe she leaked it herself!