Timothy Rice

The Midnight Library

Prison isn't a place, but a perspective.

Rating: 2/5 – Bland contemporary fiction.

I’ve been trying to steer away from recently published books in favor of proven classics, but some friends asked me to read The Midnight Library with them in December 2023. It’s a fairly quick and pleasant read, but ultimately I found it lacking in depth. You can sum up most of the book’s message as “the real treasure is the friends we made along the way”, which is both amusing and disappointing.

The premise is engaging, as who among us hasn’t wanted to know what our lives would be like if we had made certain choices differently? Where I thought it dropped the ball was the idea that anything could have happened, if only the right choices had been made. I’d much rather have seen Nora explore a world where she didn’t give up on a passion, but still failed to achieve ultimate “success”. The unspoken assumption that she could only have reached the heights of Olympic glory or rock stardom through sacrifice of her relationships and personal happiness was confusing under the premise of unlimited possibility. In all those infinite lives there’s not one where a rock star is in a stable and loving relationship?

This book also loses points from me in it’s wholly unnecessary detour into shallow quantum physics. Authors out there, please know that you don’t have to justify whatever weird thing you want to write about with a half-baked explanation of whatever most recently caught your eye in Scientific American. Just state your premise and move on, the determination to ground your story with a loose connection to reality only drags the whole thing down.

Ultimately while I share Nora’s final belief that life’s purpose is to love and be loved, I don’t think this particular book did a great job of exploring that idea. It’s a fine light read, but there’s a lot I’d recommend instead.

P.S. Thank you Cait for the recommendation and read-along coordination. I’m sorry I didn’t like it more!

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