This review includes spoilers, you've been forewarned.
Whilst I've come to highly respect Matt Haig and his books, even re-reading The Humans (which is unique for me), as I read this book I started to remember what I wasn't so keen on in his last book - which repeats itself in this.
The book reads like I'm watching a movie. That might be fine for some, but for me I want the written medium to challenge my imagination, not feed me visuals from a film.
The story in general is well written and is respectful of its subject: suicide. I've always been a little wary of female lead characters written by men (I've not had great experiences), but Haig does Nora Seed proud. Nora is a well rounded, messed up, individual and if I didn't have my personal dislikes for some of the story aspects or the method of story telling, I'd say this is a decent book to read on holiday (not that any of us are holidaying during the pandemic times...).
Nora Seed is depressed and lonely, and everything around her has failed in some way, and so she decides she wants to die. In her journey to death, she lands in limo, The Midnight Library, where she can (effectively) try on alternative lives where she had made a different decision and see if she would like to stay and continue that life instead.
The story inevitably leads to the idea of the multiverse but kind of does it in a half cocked way. Since Nora can switch universe and in she decides this isn't the life for her, she reverts back to midnight to reselect. This is also effectively time travel (though the book doesn't acknowledge it). So since she can time travel and jump universe, we're now talking about infinite space and time, which apparently Nora isn't allowed… it just feels a bit… like there's gaping plot holes.
But then after trying all the lives, she finds one that she believes she's happy in (which apparently the absence of anti-depressants is the main requirement) she feels guilt for having taken the place of a Nora mother and happy wife and successful educator. Inevitably she bounces back to The Midnight Library, confused, wanting, when it all comes crumbling down, she realised she wants to live. In the last desperate moments as the Midnight Library comes crashing down, she chooses her own "root life" (which also makes no sense in a multiverse) and chooses to live.
Sadly predicable. Throughout the book I didn't really feel like I was learning anything as Nora went through her journey.
Despite my lack of enjoyment from the book, one message did manage to work it's way through. Nora felt happy (and perhaps content) to know that she was capable of all the "successful" versions of herself. Though she doesn't particularly tread that path, she realised that she could have done and that notion itself is strong enough to dispels a lot (if not all) of her regrets.
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