The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What happens when you try to preach some self-healing semi-spiritual gyaan in the form of sci-fi? The Midnight Library is what happens.

I don’t have a problem with this book, mind you, except that being a fantasy lover and being promised a library full of possibilities, this failed to meet my expectations. I genuinely wonder how did this book even manage to win the Goodreads 2020 Choice Award?

Plot of this book is about a girl who wants to end her life (I did not get a Trigger Warning btw, so it was a little scary to venture into it. Fortunately a friend finished reading it so it became easier to navigate through those parts)

Therefore, Trigger Warning: Attempt to Suicide

The protagonist Nora wants to end her life due to a huge pile of regrets that she has had over all the years she lived. She attempts to end her life and ends up in a sort-of purgatory-ish place that’s…. a LIBRARY, where time stands still. She navigates through this unending library where each and every book is a possibility – millions of those – of how her life could have been if she made one small choice differently. Nora ends up loving million lives or more until she finally finds what she was supposed to.

I was sold this book by the blurbs and reviews under the pretext of this one line only. Nobody told me about the depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that this book brings up. That is refreshing yet susprising because the blurb of the book can be misleading in this sense.

Eventually, ofcourse, Nora ends up finding some, if not all answers to her questions. I do not really know what Haig was aiming for here – was it moving ahead in the direction of self actualisation? Preaching about living in the present? Self preservation and appreciation? Maybe all of this. Maybe none.

One thing about this that I did like was the pace and writing style – it’s easy breezy for a concept this heavy and hard to digest at times. Not because it’s unrealistic, but precisely because it gets too real in parts.

My qualms may be because of the mildly preachy tone of the book, but had I read this one in my teens, believe me this would be my bible. Except now we’re all (me) at the precipice of becoming so cynical that perhaps we’d need a lot more than self-help-book-disguised-as-scifi-marketed-as-an-award-winning-fantasy to actually bring us back to the brighter side.

That being said, yes, the book did make me appreciate my present, be less of a cynic, more of an existentialist, find more time for myself and appreciate the little things in life – the self-preservation THEME perhaps that it was going for, but I still would not vote for this one to be the winner of the fiction category. I was promised a fantasy, and I got a lot of preaching in return.

It’s not a bad book, but I may have just read it at the wrong time in my life.

I’m gonna be filming a video with @hookedtoabook as I buddy read this with her. And maybe I won’t be this critical about it. All in all, I’d need a midnight snack after reading this as the aftertaste of this book is not what I expected, or even wanted at this point.

Rating – 3/5

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