The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Matt Haig, the English author of Shadow Forest, Echo Boy, The Radleys and The Humans, is well known for writing award-winning novels for both children and adults.

In his 2020 book, The Midnight Library, he introduces us to Nora on her last day on earth. Her life had not been going well and when midnight on her last day strikes she finds herself transported to a library. This magical library gives her the chance to undo her regrets and try out other lives she may have lived.

I did like The Midnight Library, just not as much as I had hoped. Initially I loved it, loved Nora and was fascinated to find out what other lives she could have lived and what choices she might make. I found the dialogue excellent, authentic, real world feeling conversations. I also liked the structure, with each chapter heading stating how many hours Nora still had to live and counting down as each chapter passed. I enjoyed this foreshadowing and it built a wonderful tension and we, the reader, make mental guesses as to what actually happens to Nora, and how she meets her unavoidable fate.

Unfortunately, as the book progressed, my enjoyment sadly diminished. I began to find Nora a May Sue as her other lives all show her to be massively talented in anything she decided to do. I just didn’t buy it, being talented at her different choices, sure, but being phenomenal, no.

I began to find the book rather predictable and rather than wondering where Nora’s other lives might take the story I was confident I already knew. And Nora began to grate too, and I got the idea that no life she was shown would have brought her happiness (but I understand that this may have been a presentation of depression).

Many, many people love this book and I am likely in the minority but after the initial hook pulled me into the story, I found around a third of the way through the book that I'd simply ceased to care about both Nora and where the book was going. This book just wasn’t for me but as I said, a majority love it and I definitely recommend reading others’ reviews on The Midnight Library.

7/10 I did like The Midnight Library, just not as much as I had hoped

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