I wish I had written this review closer to when I actually finished the audiobook, but I wasn’t too anxious to review this one since it’s not as stellar as other books I’ve read this year so far. Checking out The Midnight Library was a direct result of cannonball reviews, both good and bad, and a certain curiosity about how I would fare with the story.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Matt Haig’s, The Midnight Library, is about a woman who has decided to end her life. There is no warning for this, and it starts right up front with this fact. Nora Seed, our protagonist, has decided to die. We find that there is an existence between living and dying, and in Nora’s case this gray space appears as a library where she can read a book that contains all her regrets as well as an unending number of books that contain all the possibilities of her life that she never lived. Nora will get to choose which one of these possible lives she wants to live in from here on out.
Without giving too much away I really want to talk about Nora’s perspective and choices, but I think that would be difficult since much of my enjoyment of the book really came from those specifics and talking about them would be giving away that enjoyment. It was relatively easy to guess the projection of the story overall and those smaller details really made it worth the read/listen. Suffice to say that the beginning of this book is very, very dark. Nora is in a place where she has come to believe that no one cares about her existence, that her lack of existence wouldn’t impact anyone, and that her life is pointless and meaningless. While listening, my immediate thought was about a handful of people I could/would never recommend this book to because its so dark and heavy to start out with, without much to lift up, that it would probably be dangerous for them to read it. Even as it progresses, much of the middle isn’t that much lighter. I did enjoy the kinds of ideas the book had me considering, but it really takes until the third act for the book to lighten up and by then I’d already guessed the nature of the ending (and not like in the fun, I’m enjoying being a detective and figuring this out kind of way but in a like, oh I feel like I know where this is going).
I would not not recommend this book (excepting for those I think it would be too dangerously depressing to read) but I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. It was predictable in some ways and forgettable in others. It did give me a lot of interesting moments of introspection about regret, the potential of every moment we are alive, the strength of our ability to embrace others, and more and so that is definitely a redeeming quality. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it was mostly fine.