Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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Life-affirming

Matt Haig has succeeded again in writing a novel that inspires emotion and philosophical thought

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Matt Haig, award-winning author, is most well-known for his hit self-help memoir Reasons to Stay Alive (2015). Having a ferocious online presence, advocating for better mental health services and often tweeting out advice to his followers or commenting on current social issues, he is now very widely known. With various books under his belt, including a few children’s novels, a couple of self-help memoirs and a range of fiction, his newest fiction novel The Midnight Library was much-anticipated.

Not knowing anything about Haig, reading The Midnight Library might be a bit of a shock to you in its casual dealings with suicide and depression. However, knowing Haig and his active imagination, many of his texts deal with issues of mental health alongside an interesting plotline. How To Stop Time (2017) explored issues of identity but in the context of time-travel, whilst The Humans acts as a critique on human life and normality through the eyes of an alien. It seems this sci-fi influence has continued in Haig’s writing, and is present in The Midnight Library in the form of an “after-life”.

In The Midnight Library, much like in the remainder of his fiction, the sci-fi explorations are not something to be feared, and rather a comfort to the reader. The ideas explored in this novel are impossible to prove wrong and are extremely interesting to consider. After all, no one knows what happens when we die, and Haig forces us to question and consider ideas raised here.

What is so great about Haig’s writing is its accessibility. Rather than convoluting the story-line with unnecessary adjectives and words often unheard of to the average reader, Haig writes at a level that’s incredibly easy to understand and follow. His chapters are always short, meaning the act of reading becomes less of a chore and is more inspired as you can’t put the book down.

This accessibility is also evident in the character of Nora in this novel. As a normal person, with a pretty bog-standard life and routine, her character is more relatable than any others in Haig’s texts. She’s not a time traveller, like Tom Hazard, nor is she an alien. She’s a normal, likeable woman who is so easy to root for when reading.

It is of course normal to become attached to characters in a book, but the attachment felt in The Midnight Library is different, because it is so easy to put yourself in Nora’s shoes. Her experiences are relatable and so heart-warming as she delves from regret to regret, meeting a variety of interesting individuals, whilst reconsidering her life choices.

In The Midnight Library, Haig forces readers to question their self-doubts and their own regrets. After all, we only get one chance at living… or do we?

The Midnight Library is available to buy now. 

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Live Editor 2019/20 & second year English student. Can usually be found procrastinating my degree at a gig, or trying (and failing) to complete my Goodreads challenge

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