The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is the story of a woman learning what life is all about after death. A story filled with lessons on seeing the good, recognizing the bad and making the most of it all.
Here is my spoiler-free book review of The Midnight Library!
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A Short Summary
Nora Seed has lived a life filled with misfortune and bad decisions. With many regrets and not much she is willing to live for, she takes her own life after having one of the worst days of her life.
Nora wakes up in The Midnight Library. Seemingly endless shelves await her, lined with books of possible lives she could have lived had she or someone else made better decisions.
With each life she lives in this strange limbo, the more she learns about regret and loving oneself.
There really is only one character worth talking about and that is the protagonist, Nora Seed.
While there are many supporting characters, the biggest being The Librarian who talks with Nora in the Midnight Library, none really deserve discussion.
Nora, on the other hand, does.
Nora Seed is a woman who is hit with misfortune from every direction, so her spirit and energy are low in the book. Misfortune makes her hopelessly depressed, which coupled with pessimism and poor decision making, make her more sad and grim in personality.
Her positive quality is her intellect, which helps her develop more positive qualities and overcome some negative ones as the story goes on.
The Writing Style
Matt Haig has a simple writing style. No fluff and quick descriptions. A writer that wants to keep the story moving and avoid lingering on the unnecessary.
It's a writing style I admire, as I've said before. It serves to speed up a book's pacing and maintain reader interest. A writing style that isn't so easy to get into, since most authors when they start writing tend to believe that intense description is the way to go.
The Midnight Library is a short book, which coupled with this writing style allows for more important information in a low word count. Which I believe was a great idea with this story.
Personal Thoughts on the Book
Speaking of which, it's time for my thoughts on the book.
I saw that The Midnight Library was a short book with an interesting idea, which is why I decided to give it a read and make a double review.
I went on to read it over the weekend and had many ups and downs while I read it.
First, Nora Seed I found to be an uninteresting character. The danger in creating a character who isn't particularly likeable from the start is that the reader won't have enough interest in them when it matters most, which is certainly the case for this book.
While Nora does grow and develop, which I am happy to write about, it is done so suddenly that it comes off as forced and that practically negates the effect of character growth.
Nora learns about life throughout the book, but there isn't a proper build-up. That's what disappointed me the most, as the concept was an interesting one. Yet, with Nora and a predictable plot it becomes a story much like a Christmas Carol, but with sledgehammer platitudes for the down and depressed instead of the greedy.
The only other negative I have with The Midnight Library is the dialogue. In some areas it is good and even impactful, in others, it is unrealistic and falls flat. It is a slight inconsistency that further highlights the forced nature of the story.
Yet, despite these large negatives, I didn't find myself disliking the book itself. Sometimes a book appears poorly written, but then you realise it is for an entirely different market. I can see it being of some interest to young adults who might be in a similar situation. However, for the experienced reader, it is simply an interesting idea with an uninteresting character and a forced, predictable moral lesson.
Extra note: Normally I don't research the authors of the books I've read, but with this one I was curious as to how a book so short and mediocre could have such high reviews as well as price on Amazon.
I learnt that Matt Haig was made famous by one of his first books on a similar topic. A book that gained him fame and a serious following. With that said, if there is anything I learnt about authors and their following is that you stop trusting the reviews on their future books.
A dedicated following can easily sway the reviews, not to mention the price, in favour of the author, no matter the quality of the writing.
Overall, of the short fiction I have read recently, I would say this is one was another miss for me. I couldn’t help feeling that this was a short story that was stretched out into a novel, but instead of adding more interesting and insightful scenes, it pads itself up with more of the same, resulting in little to no impact.
I believe that The Midnight Library is a weekend read that a casual young reader can enjoy. If you are interested in reading a story about a depressed woman living multiple lives in an attempt to overcome her misery, I can recommend you read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
Thank you for reading this book review and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy reading!