I'm going to say here and now, this is my favourite book. Of all the books in my room, all the books I have read, this, a two-day-old, two hundred and seventy-odd paged book, is the one I have chosen to be my favourite. Of all time. (insert dramatic pause here)
When I set out to write this review I was kind of stuck, because the obvious way to describe this book is as 'a slightly heavy piece of writing handling mental health'. Now, that is all very well and good, but there is one problem. This book is not heavy, not in the slightest. It is a gloriously light, comedic insight into mental health, and life, too. But don't think that Mr Haig is mocking depression, no, no, no; this is simply an awareness of depression without depressing. And I love it.
Before this book, I only knew Matt Haig as the author of A Boy Called Christmas, which I read to the child I was babysitting. We both enjoyed that immensely, and the thing that I adored most was how completely original it was. All books have
elements of originality, but this I had never heard of before, never even thought about. It was the same with The Midnight Library. It wasn't just how original it was, but the wondrous un-complexity of the plot (yes, it's a word). Basically, our protagonist, Nora Seed, is suffering from what she calls 'situational depression', and in one moment, she decides to kill herself. In the next moment, she finds herself in the Midnight Library. It is full to the brim of books (not that it has a brim. The library is, of course, infinite), but each book contains a life. A life she could have lived if, say, she had chosen to buy a ticket to this show, or chose not to go the gym that day, things like that. You get the gist.
The one thing that I am continuously finding in many books are the long, drawn-out 'introductory' chapters, leading up to the book. I really don't like those. I understand providing context, and, yes, context is good. Just too much is not good. However, Matt Haig provides none of that. The beginning of the book gives just the right amount of context, just so that it's leaving you with all the background you think you need. Then, as you get into the book, you realise the narrative exposition that leaves you wondering.
Just the ease of reading this book is wonderfully comforting to me. I read this in 24 hours, maybe less. The short chapters are satisfying and to the point. Some people have said that they didn't like the how it wanders and weaves, somehow in the boundaries of science yet also in fantasy. This was my favourite part of the whole book. In fact, it made the whole book. Quite literally, too. I give this book a 10/10.
Trigger Warnings: depression, suicide