Culture Writer Halima Ahad reviews the bestseller The Midnight Library, commenting on the novel’s too-quick pace but complimenting the character development and the use of its genres

third year eng & creative writing, lover of books & writing, former culture editor and current digital editor <3

When I first picked up The Midnight Library, I thought the premise of it sounded very promising and interesting. To my surprise, the book fulfilled every one of my expectations. The novel follows Nora Seed whose life has gone from bad to worse. At the stroke of midnight on her last day on Earth, Nora finds herself transported to the Midnight Library. There, she is given the chance to undo the regrets in her life and try out each of the lives she could have lived. The novel raises the question that with infinite questions, what is the best way to live? 

At times, there was not enough time for Nora’s character development; the plot almost felt rushed

I found the pacing of the novel to be too fast at times. At times, there was not enough time for Nora’s character development; the plot almost felt rushed. Haig begins the story with Nora’s mental health crisis and then she is suddenly thrown into the Midnight Library. I felt as if there was not enough time for the readers to understand what was wrong with Nora and why she was in this state in the first place.  

The dialogue throughout the novel was very light-hearted and made me laugh very much. It could be read easily and was not difficult to understand. The simplicity of Haig’s dialogue was easy to follow through. I felt as if the dialogue made me love the main character, Nora, even more. We see how relatable she is towards the readers, and this puts her in a vulnerable state in which we see her true weaknesses and I love her for that. 

Nora as the main character and her character development almost solidified most of the novel; we see how she completely changes her outlook on life thanks to the Midnight Library and its powers within. Nora, as the main character, moves from an afraid, vulnerable person to someone who is determined to get what they want and fight for it. The other characters who contributed to this development, including Mrs Elm, were very loveable. We see why Nora loves her friends and family so much in her alternating lives and why they contribute to her feelings and emotions throughout the novel. 

The Midnight Library has many genres and tropes which I felt Haig contributed to as well as subverted in his own ways. The first of these genres is the science fiction genre, Haig challenged this genre very much throughout the novel. It was very different in the fact that the setting was mainly contemporary – besides The Midnight Library – and the world building throughout the whole story revolved around this contemporary setting. 

The novel makes the reader ask how they are contributing to their own lives and if they are truly making a difference

Another genre Haig subverted greatly was the fantasy fiction genre. He mainly wrote this genre on his own terms, which I felt was perfect for the concept surrounding The Midnight Library. It was fantastic to see a new kind of fantasy fiction where it was not all daggers and dragons. The last of these genres is philosophical fiction, which Haig contributes to greatly in which he really makes the reader sit and ponder on their own lives. The novel makes the reader ask how they are contributing to their own lives and if they are truly making a difference. 

The writing of the novel was very simple and it was easy to follow through without getting confused. The Midnight Library‘s themes include choices, regrets, relationships, and forgiveness, and although there are hard hitting topics such as depression and suicide, the novel overall gives a message of hope and love. 

The novel gives a really good message overall, we should never dwell on the things that never happened or could have happened in our lives but instead live in the present moment and for today.

Trigger warnings for The Midnight Library: suicide, cancer, death, drugs, alcohol and depression.

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