The Midnight Library by Matt Haig Book Review

Tuesday, 6 April 2021



Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Pages: 288
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: 29th September 2020
Genre: fiction

Trigger warnings: suicide, overdose, death of a pet, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, death of a friend, death of a parent, spousal abuse, depression, mental health struggles.

About the book
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?

Review
This is one of those books which I've seen everywheeeere and truth be told I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about because I literally cannot log onto Instagram and not see a picture of this book. I also just really like Matt Haig as a person. I think he does a great job at campaigning and creating awareness of mental health issues and I'd heard this book tackles some major plot lines within that subject.

Okay, so, I didn't LOVE this book, but I also didn't hate it but I can see why a lot of people do love it - it's very relatable if you've previously, or are currently, suffering from mental health issues. I can see why people relate to this book so much; a normal, ordinary & generally average girl - Nora - decides to kill herself when life throws her obstacle after obstacle and in between life and death, she finds herself in the Midnight Library in which she gets to explore all her other parallel lives. Sounds kinds intriguing, right?

My main issue here is that we didn't get to spend an awful lot of time with Nora before she decides to kill herself and she therefore lacked a lot of depth. Nora felt more like a tool that needed to be used in order to convey a message, rather than a person we are supposed to care about. This is quite a short book coming in at just under 300 pages and I'd have preferred it if we got to spend another 50 pages with her in the beginning so we could really root for her as a character. Instead, it feels as if Haig has gone "here's Nora. Nora's a bit sad. BAM. She decides to kill herself. On with the story, shall we?". We know very little about Nora as a human before she decides to kill herself except the bare minumum we need to know as to why she has decided to end her life.

Whilst the book is centred around some pretty serious and deep mental health topics, it's also fairly simplistic and, for me, that hinders the message this book is trying to convey. Haig basically spells the message out for the readers and because of this, the message falls a bit flat when it had the potential to be really powerful. It feels like Haig doesn't trust us, the reader, enough for us to 'get it' and instead over simplifies everything to the point of it being too obvious. He gives no space to draw our own conclusions and interpretations and feels as though he doesn't trust us enough to connect the dots.

That's not to say that the message isn't a nice one, because it is. The theory about parallel lives does make you stop and think about life and possibilities and the decisions we make and the outcomes those decisions can have - how one small decision can lead a completely different path in life. It did make me wonder a lot about my own life and what I might be doing if things had taken a different path and I really enjoyed that aspect of it, however, if you're not into parallel lives then this book probably isn't for you. Don't be fooled by the title either, the library in the book is more of a metaphor rather than an actual library.

I'm glad this book was under 300 pages (with the exception of wanting/needing to spend more time with Nora in the beginning of the book, then I might have cared about her a bit more than I actually did) as if it was any longer than it might have verged on the boring and repetitive side. It was a quick read for me and not a bad book at all, it just didn't blow me away either. It wasn't quite as remarkable as I'd have hoped for, but I do recommend it if you're after a book about life that will make you think.

Verdict: ★★★

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