Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction  |  05.01.2021

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

“If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise.”
― Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

Synopsis:

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well-lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe, there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Genre:

Fiction | Fantasy | Magical Realism

Trigger Warnings:

Suicide, substance abuse, depression, death of a loved one.

Spoiler-Free Review:

Nora Seed is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. She suffers from anxiety and depression, and after a series of upsetting news, Nora decides she doesn’t want to live anymore.

Stuck between life and death after an overdose she wakes up in The Library. A place where Nora can open The Book of Regrets and choose from a multitude of books all the lives she didn’t live. Just like a neverending ticket to the multiverse, before properly dying, she can sample what her life would be if she made different choices.

From simple things like – what if I had said yes to that one coffee. To more complicated things like – what if I kept up with swimming and became an Olympic athlete?

But there are a few rules. It’s always midnight in the library until it isn’t. While time is stopped, Nora can visit as many lives as she wants. As soon as she feels an emptiness in that particular life, she is brought back. She can never visit a life twice.

The purpose is to make Nora realize that all lives have their share of happiness and darkness. No matter if she’s a famous rockstar, a dog sitter, a glaciologist, or a professor. The universe will always have a balance between the good days and the bad days, and the only way for Nora to find purpose in her existence is to continue living.

All of this is fine. This book is so easy to get through. But I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the whole experience. It’s such a known formula. Immediately I think of It’s a Wonderful Life, but this could also be a Doctor Who episode. I mean, I do love Doctor Who, but the thing is I couldn’t find that extra spark I was looking for in this novel.

It all seems very pretentious, like a cloaked self-help guide. All the while being extremely triggering for suicide and self-harm.

Also, it’s upsetting that Matt Haig didn’t do the proper research when writing the bit about São Paulo. One of his characters translates for Nora that an “asshole” in Portuguese is called a “Cabrão”. That is honestly not in any way shape or form how a native from São Paulo would describe an asshole. Just saying. This just makes the editing seem lazy.

I wanted to truly love The Midnight Library, the blurb is so intriguing and the cover is stunning. I admit that some parts were fun and I even got a bit emotional towards the end. Yet, it turned out to be just an unremarkable read.

Rating:

☆☆☆ (3 Stars)

Find the book here:

Goodreads | Amazon

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