GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT
Written by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Published by Random House, August 9 2016
My star rating: 4 stars
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? (Goodreads)
Ok, ok. While I was reading this book I had one set of thoughts. When I finished it I had a second set. And now that I’ve had time to sit and think about what I read my thoughts have changed yet again. This book found a way to totally mess with my mind! This review will be long – sorry!
So the story begins with Augustine. He’s an older man who’s traveled the world in search for the next big discovery. He’s motivated by the stars and wants to uncover something that will make the world remember him. But his discoveries are the only thing he sees. He’s a self proclaimed selfish asshole who only cares about himself and his studies. He treated women in terrible ways and looked at them as ‘projects’ and ‘experiments’ instead of people with hearts and emotions. He even had a child with a woman and wanted nothing to do with her. It was because of his personality that I didn’t think I would like this book. I didn’t want to read from his perspective at all in the beginning.
Augustine is in the arctic doing research when something catastrophic happens. Everyone working at the station is whisked away very quickly, but Augustine decides to stay. He’s old and at the end of his life, so knowing that no one will come back for him is fine with him. He decides to stay so that he can make that big discovery. But once everyone leaves he realizes that he’s not alone, but a young girl named Iris has been left behind. There’s no clue why she’s there and who she belongs to. The fact is – the two of them are alone in the baron arctic, no one is coming back for them, and they need to survive together. To make matters worse, once Augustine discovers she’s there he can’t communicate with the outside world. Whatever happened that made everyone leave so quickly has also cut off all forms of communication. There’s only silence.
Then comes the second perspective of Sully, who is on a space craft coming back to Earth from a mission to Jupiter. The trip was supposed to take over two years, which in and of itself is quite the commitment. But when all communication disappears without warning, the trip is unbearable. Left alone to float in space not knowing what’s happening, Sully and the 5 other members of the crew slowly decend into madness and fear. The crew members were a little hard to distinguish at times but this was my favourite perspective.
This isn’t a fast moving plot with lots of action. It’s a slow burning read that pulls on your emotions. It’s a story of isolation, loneliness, and a reflection of your choices in life when you’re facing the possible end of it all. Each perspective is full of contemplation and a desire to survive the unknown, each of which are linked somehow. I wished at times that the science fiction aspect was stronger and I found the dystopian definition far fetched for me. When I think dystopian I think catastrophe, apocalypse, disaster and a changed earth. You know that something big is happening but there aren’t any details. This one totally reminded me of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
I was a little underwhelmed with the last half of the book. It moved slower than I wanted it to and I wanted more details! I NEEDED more details when it came to the big earth event and why communications were lost. And that’s where I took a star off the rating. But then, I got to the last two pages and sat there for a full 5 minutes – mouth and book wide open and unmoving – going over every detail that I had read. I just sat there and thought, letting my emotions pour over me. At first I was disappointed, then I was mad, then I was in awe. My perspective of both Augustine and Sully changed completely.
So if you’re looking for a slow burning sci-fi/dystopian read that will make you think this may be for you! If you’ve read this one I would LOVE to talk to someone about this!!!
Until next time, happy reading!