Monday, March 08, 2021

Good Morning, Midnight - Lily Brooks-Dalton

At only 253 numbered-pages, Lily Brooks-Dalton’s Good Morning, Midnight is a deceptively complex novel with a whole lot going on, so pay attention. If you do, I think that you are pretty likely to appreciate the ride as much as I did. 


Good Morning, Midnight begins as a relatively straightforward tale about the forced evacuation and ultimate abandonment of an isolated Arctic observatory. One man, Augustine Lofthouse, who is in his late seventies refuses to be carried out with the rest of his colleagues despite being warned that there will be “no return trip,” No return trip means no second chance to go home - ever. Not long after everyone leaves, Augustine discovers that he has company: a little girl who tells him her name is Iris. He knows that no one is coming back for her either. 


While all this is going on at the observatory, a sophisticated space ship manned by a crew of international astronauts is drawing closer and closer to Earth after having spent two years on a scientific mission to Jupiter and that planet’s moons. Those aboard the ship lost communication with everyone on Earth months earlier, including NASA’s mission control specialists. The closer they get to their home planet, the more obvious it becomes that something has gone catastrophically wrong for everyone they hoped to return to someday. 


In alternating chapters, Brooks-Dalton explores the struggles of both groups to make sense of what has happened to them. They have questions, but there is no one around to give them any answers, so the six astronauts and the two people abandoned at the observatory are left to deal with the situation on their own. Tough decisions are going to have to be made, and soon.


Different as they are, each of the scenarios is very atmospherically presented, and as a reader, I never found myself prematurely wishing that one segment would end so that I could revisit the other. The isolation faced by Augustine and Iris is very different from the lack of privacy felt by the astronauts in their confined living space, but all of the adults are faced with making sense of the lives they have lived, and the concept that they may now be among the last handful of humans still alive. The little girl, on the other hand, is content to take life one day at a time, and to enjoy the great adventure she and Augustine are experiencing. 


Bottom Line: The ending of Good Morning, Midnight is almost certain to surprise its readers. It will also confuse them to the point that they have to reevaluate everything they’ve just read. However, Brooks-Dalton, I believe, does play fair with the reader by providing hints along the way that will lead them to some relatively solid retrospective conclusions about the story. This is a solid debut novel about love, regrets, guilt, optimism, and bravery, and I would love to hear what others think of it.


Lily Brooks-Dalton

6 comments:

  1. An intriguing situation, and I'm curious about everything you've mentioned in this review, especially the retrospection that calls for revaluation!

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    1. I'd love to hear what you have to think of this one, Jen. The conclusions I came to by the end turned a really good novel into one I will remember for a long while.

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  2. Both of the settings in this book intrigue me! I will definitely be reading this one. :)

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  3. This sounds like such a good read! I'm glad to hear that the author "plays fair" with the plot twists. I hate it when an author just throws some crazy swerve into a book without dropping hints throughout the story. That's just lazy writing, in my opinion.

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    1. I agree...and it always leaves me some combination of angry and frustrated when they take the easy way out. Reading a book is like walking from one destination to another. I don't want to wonder how in the world I arrived at the destination if I was never walking in that direction in the first place.

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