The Midnight Library: Book Review by Asha Seth

Author: Matt Haig | Genre: Mental Health | Pages: 288 | Publisher: Viking

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In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.  

This was the third Matt Haig book I’ve read in two years. Wasn’t much blown by ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ but ‘A Boy called Christmas’ was kickass. So I thought of giving his latest sensation a chance. It was next to impossible to not bump into this book every time I hit Instagram or someone’s blog. The world seemed to be doing nothing but reading The Midnight Library. But that wasn’t the reason why I picked this book. It was the obvious inkling of the book being about books and that sure does work its charm on me. So I was diving in before I could say ‘Go’.

Firstly, let me talk about the good things because that’s really few and far between. The concept felt great on the surface and that’s what got me in too. But it started to feel all over the place right from chapter 1. The writing is decent and simple; one won’t have to worry about not getting ‘it’. But that’s really all I could think of. A lot of introspection followed by analysation goes on in abundance. So if one doesn’t know to look within themselves, this book will teach them how.

The plot started all right until well, the protagonist decides to end it all. Now that’s where the bizarreness started for me. She reaches what is the Midnight Library where one is not really dead and is given one chance to correct what they did wrong in the previous life. And this is where the plot lost me. It gets not just harrowing but all painfully boring too. She just wanders in all those moments of significance from past life where she blundered and is now calculating what she can change. The only difference – she is as indecisive as she was before being dead, or semi-dead, whatever!

And it’s just that! A tedious monologue where the plot just drags on and nothing great really unfolds. I had read ‘A Boy called Christmas’ only a month ago and man, it was difficult to believe it was the same mind who wrote this! Lack of creativity and imagination and restricting it to meagre wanderings of a confused character isn’t smart prose really and makes me wonder what made those readers rate this five blistering stars. I mean, can we have honest reviews please and not mislead people?

This could’ve been easily fixed had the author tried adding some twists to make it more believable and by not making the character so soppy as she was. Most readers have listed this book under Sci-fi but that isn’t the right genre. Mental and self-help is the genre, with a touch of fantasy.

Review also available on: Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

I really want to say just this – don’t run after the hype. This book is definitely not the author’s best work as some readers would agree with me. I pray Haig writes more fantasy and children’s fiction than books such as Reasons to Stay Alive or The Midnight Library. I would recommend it to only them who really don’t mind mindless pondering of lost characters. Read it to introspect about how one must live in the now, as life hardly gives second chances. If you’ve already got that bit figured, this book really has nothing new to offer.

Have you read ‘Midnight Library’? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy reading till we meet next. Until then, carpe diem! 

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