Book Review: The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library
Haig, Matt
4 stars = Really Good

Matt Haig's unique novel The Midnight Library ponders the infinite possibilities of life. It is about a young woman named Nora Seed, who lives a monotonous, ordinary life and feels unwanted and unaccomplished. One night, her despair reaches a peak and she commits suicide. But the story doesn't end there--Nora gets a chance to experience various ways her life could've unfolded had she made slightly different choices. She finds herself in a place called the Midnight Library, which exists between life and death and is filled with books in which lie endless parallel lives she might've lived; she is given the chance to undo her regrets by trying out these lives, starting right where her alternate self would've been on the night she ended her life. While in the Midnight Library, Nora lives hundreds of lives and becomes hundreds of different versions of herself--some she'd never even fathomed--but she is faced with a difficult decision. She must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in order to live permanently in one of these 'ideal' lives, where they seem perfect for a time but, as she realizes, there are really new sets of challenges awaiting. Nora's exploration of herself is captivating as she attempts to discern what is really important in life.

This novel is very well-written and thought-provoking. Nora's emotions are deeply portrayed, and I was captivated by the depth of Haig's storytelling. While the concept is simple, it drew me in as a reader and encompassed so many different emotional experiences that come with life. I spent much of The Midnight Library reflecting on my own life and the decisions I've made, as well as looking to the future and imagining the infinite possibilities--this is a sign of a talented author. While I appreciated the depth of this novel, sometimes it took on a repetitive, almost pedantic tone when an important idea was already clear but kept being elaborated on--this was common when life lessons came up. There were also attempts to make Nora's life-jumping seem scientifically possible, with reference to quantum physics, and I didn't think this was necessary, as the focus was on Nora's life and personal growth. Overall, I very much enjoyed The Midnight Library. The character development, setting, and plot are engaging, while also discussing important themes such as mental health.

I would recommend The Midnight Library to teens and adults alike. It's a short, worthwhile read that will get you thinking and have you on the edge of your seat. And it may just awaken you to how much unlocked potential you have!

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