Book review: Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (first published in 2016 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
About the book:
Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts, studying the sky for evidence of how the universe began. At his latest posting, in a research center in the Arctic, news of a catastrophic event arrives. The scientists are forced to evacuate, but Augustine stubbornly refuses to abandon his work. Shortly after the others have gone, Augustine discovers a mysterious child, Iris, and realizes the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone.
At the same time, Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. The astronauts are the first human beings to delve this deep into space, and Sully has made peace with the sacrifices required of her: a daughter left behind, a marriage ended. So far the journey has been a success, but when Mission Control falls inexplicably silent, Sully and her crew mates are forced to wonder if they will ever get home.
As Augustine and Sully each face an uncertain future against forbidding yet beautiful landscapes, their stories gradually intertwine in a profound and unexpected conclusion. In crystalline prose, Good Morning, Midnight poses the most important questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives?
How gorgeous is that cover? Aching and slow, Good Morning, Midnight is another one of those quiet end-of-the-world novels, introspective and character driven.
Not recommended for those who need their post-apocalyptic sagas action-packed, but still enjoyable for those of us who don’t mind a slower pace.
For instance, there are chapters that just consist of our character’s thoughts while they orbit around space or take a lonely stroll around the Arctic, but the author really drives home the sheer isolation of our protagonists – Augustine on the scientific base in the Arctic, and Sully in her spaceship on her way back to Earth.
She floated forward, unburdened, into the certainty that she was following the path she was meant to, that she was supposed to be here, that she was a tiny and intrinsic piece of a universe beyond her comprehension.
We never find out what cataclysmic event has happened to essentially cause radio silence on the planet, but again, in this case it’s not necessary, even as we’re driven mad with curiosity.
We’re in the same boat, or spaceship, as it were, as our characters, who have to deal with the fact that there are no signs of life apart from themselves. It’s a horrifying concept, in all its stillness. Just utter nothingness, for miles around.
The mess of survival was so distasteful. He preferred not to think about it.
I preferred Sully’s chapters, learning about her life and relationships with her fellow crew members.
The regimens they have to follow to maintain some semblance of normality, the cracks that appear as they fall into despair, and the little insights into their lives before this mission. And ultimately, the preparations and decisions they have to make for a return to an uncertain future on Earth.
It’s a little depressing, I have to admit, but I think it’s a beautiful story nevertheless, one where our characters are really stripped down to the basic aspects of survival, and have to grapple with the ethical and philosophical dilemmas that accompany it.
For more reviews, visit Hannah’s book review blog.
You can buy a copy of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, visit Takealot.com.
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