Good Morning, Midnight

Lily Brooks-Dalton

Book cover

I picked this up after seeing it on a “staff recommendations” display at a local bookstore. The little card described it as similar to “Station Eleven,” which I loved. (In fact, check out the similarity of their covers: I think that’s a fair comparison. Both are post-apocalyptic stories that focus much more on the characters and relationships than on any specifics of the disaster.

The book focuses on characters in two settings: an observatory on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, and a spaceship returning to Earth from a mission to the moons of Jupiter. I loved both settings, especially the Arctic one–Brooks-Dalton evokes the feel of both very strongly with mostly spare language. From reading the dust jacket, we know that the story is going to be about the two parties coming into contact by radio after everyone else on earth has mysteriously gone silent, but the book didn’t play out the way I expected it to (I expected them to get in contact much sooner). It could have been interesting the other way, but it would have probably revealed some information too early. There are two major twists in the last two chapters of the book. I think the first would have been pretty difficult to anticipate, but I was kicking myself for not foreseeing the last one!

I liked that Brooks-Dalton kept the focus on the psychological experience of aloneness/togetherness, avoiding “hardship porn” that would come easily in a post-apocalyptic setting–there is no manufactured drama from the external environment (with one exception–which was, disappointingly, the death of the only recognized woman of color in the story). I did think there was a little too much “telling not showing” in revealing Augie’s backstory, which might have been handled more subtly through narrative flashbacks. But overall, this book is a great addition to the new literary sci-fi canon.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars