The Midnight Library: The Unsatisfying Book in My Library

By Farah Bassyouni Jan 22, 2024

“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig piqued my interest when I read it before winter break. My sister, an avid reader much like myself, loved it and the premise was compelling. Nora Seed, a woman with an unhappy life, tries to overdose on medication but is ripped from life right before her death. She meets The Librarian who tells her that she must pick books with other lives—lives that could have been hers if a different choice had been made.

Without spoiling it, I will say that the book had me until the middle when I began to see the predictability play out. On top of the predictability, the writing was starting to become lax and filled me with a hunger for more. As it sped up after each chapter, throwing me into different ideas and mini-adventures from Nora’s life, I began to feel as though it was becoming too fast, to a pace that didn’t allow the reader to fully grasp everything that it was trying to be. After a while Nora’s choices which led to her different book lives started to become a back and forth and drove me up the wall because there was little to no explanation to them.

This lazy writing was furthered by the character of Dan Lord, Nora’s former fiancee, who we  see in a terrible light only a few chapters after a glowing review in a compilation of inner dialogue from Nora. For the fiancee of the main character, Dan was hardly fleshed out at all. It was as if our introduction to him in the beginning did not matter one bit. We never get to see the Dan that Nora saw, which was a shame, because as The Librarian said to Nora, every life, every Nora, is either entirely different or a little different.

“The Midnight Library”’s concept was the only thing that kept me reading and hoping for a better ending to and understanding of the book. It is steeped in philosophy, as it should be, since Nora Seed was a philosophy major. I rather liked that aspect of the book and how it played with the meaningfulness of certain choices and events.

Being able to hop from one life to another by merely opening a book was a fascinating take as a variation of reincarnation—since The Librarian explained that all the Noras do exist somewhere, even before and after the “Original Nora” steps into their lives.

Unfortunately, the ending was not what I had expected or hoped, even though it was the only ending that could happen at that point in the plot. It felt cut off and rushed, not offering the catharsis I was looking for. I wanted more explanation; more about Nora’s future, her family, what she was going to do.

The book was unsatisfying despite a concept I wanted to enjoy. For the concept alone, I would give the book a three out of five star rating.

Related Post