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?
I finished this book right before the quarantine for COVID-19 started in my city, and let me just say that if I had tried to read this book at the beginning of the pandemic, then I don’t think I could have done it. The idea that humanity could suddenly go silent would have been more than a little foreboding. But since I hadn’t yet lived through my very own pandemic, at the time I thought it was just a cool idea. And to be fair, I still think that it’s a cool idea. Two of the most remote places, outer space and the Arctic are not places that I have seen as settings for a plague. But seeing how the author worked with the different ramifications that these two settings could both face as a result of a pandemic was really interesting.
I think that the book did a really good job of showing how isolation is a huge factor in how people react to bad news. The sudden cut off from communication with Earth left the crew of the Aether feeling even more disconnected and uncertain about their return to Earth. The same with Augustine and Iris, except they have to figure out how to live in the Arctic without support. Both story lines really focus on how you go on living in uncertainty, and how focusing on those that really matter to you can help to make things more bearable.
Overall, I don’t think this book was extraordinary, but it was an interesting story. I was really interested in how things would be resolved, and there was one twist that I wasn’t expecting at all. I liked how the author developed the characters, and made them reflect on their lives to show that in the end what really matters is the relationships that we have with the people around us. I gave this book 3.5/5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.
Hope you’re staying safe, wearing a mask and quarantining as much as possible. Now that I’ve finally gotten used to this ‘work from home’ thing, I expect to be posting much more regularly in the future (aka I’ve read a mountain of books in quarantine so it’s time to review all of them!).
Talk to you soon ducks!