Book Review: The Midnight Library

The longer it has been since I read this book, the more I despise it.

I just. don’t. get it. There’s a magical library you go to when you die that has all of the other ways your life could have been. It is somehow made of limitless lives, yet there are certain things that always would have happened? And you just get to rifle through picking books off the shelf until you find one you like. Or don’t. Everything else is pretty much exactly as you could imagine: a very unhappy person enters the library on the brink of death searching for where she went wrong in life. I wonder how this could possibly end?

This felt like such a stereotypical “It’s a Wonderful Life” take. I appreciated the sentiment, really. It is a good one. I just abhorred the way it was done. I couldn’t really connect much with Nora. She wasn’t a bad narrator, just kind of average. Which maybe was the point since she could be any one of us, with all kinds of regrets and dreams to pursue. But it didn’t make for a very interesting read.

Then the concept itself was boring. We of course get to travel with Nora into all of the lives she selects in the library, making this book almost more like a collection of short stories than a cohesive narrative. I wish I could say that sped up the pace of the book, but alas, it did not. Which could just be because I have very different interests than Nora, making her stories not something I wanted to peruse, but who knows. She was the only character who was truly important to the plot, so I won’t even mention the other bland ones. The thing I was most excited about in reading the blurb was the “magical library” which played a surprisingly small role in the overarching story.

In short, the only thing this book really made me feel was tired. There was no wonder or magic in it for me. I so wanted to have the eye-opening-life-affirming-transcendent experience that other readers had, but I just didn’t. I would say skip it if you aren’t a fan of big cliches with nothing new to add.

Rating: 2/5
Pacing: Slow
intended audience: adult
Content warnings: attempted suicide, mentions of drug overdosing, death of family members

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25 thoughts on “Book Review: The Midnight Library

  1. Someone finally said it! I also read this last year and I was disappointed. A lot of people hyped it up so I decided to give it a read.

    The book felt more of a self-help book than a fantasy book. I had a hard time connecting to the story because every page has this “inspiration quotes” coming from nowhere.

    I thought I was the only one who didn’t liked this book 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had this book under “To Read” because it’s been marketed to bookworms. Yeah, that is sad. What is the point if you’re already dead, too? lol I had thought this would be so much more magical and fun. Thank you for an honest review.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This was by far the most disappointing book that I read last year. I just had so many issues – the boring plot, the lack of character development, and the way the issue of depression and her attempted suicide was just sort of glossed over in the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ahhh i’m sorry this ended up being such a huge disappointment 😭😭 i was so incredibly excited to read this (I mean magical library?? With books that show the various versions your life could have been?? WHAT PART OF IT DOES NOT SOUND INTERESTING??) but now I’m not so sure honestly 🥲🥲 but tysm for your GORGEOUS REVIEW, loved reading it so much!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I appreciated the insight you provided into The Midnight Library. This one has been on my TBR for a while, and I’ve heard mostly positive things about it. Your review has given me a lot to think about, and I think I will likely go into it with a more critical eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually really enjoyed the novel. However, you do make some valid points. And I have to admit that Nora is a problematic protagonist, frustrating at times. But the premise is interesting, no? The idea of infinite possibilities and parallel dimensions…introspection and aligning one’s values with life you hope to live. Perhaps, I’m just a sucker for sentiment. Wouldn’t be the first time. That being said, I appreciated your review.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh yay, thank you! I feel like my soul has been cleansed. I was starting to feel like I was the only one that did not like this book as much as I was anticipating. The concept is good, but it’s nothing new. And I did not connect with Nora at all. It all felt too familiar and cliche. Still, the sentiment is there. I can see how the message could affect many people’s lives, so I appreciate it for that. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I get it, 100%. We listened to this on audio book during last summer’s road trip. My husband and I liked it well enough, but our teenage son who wrestles with anxiety & depression put on his headphones to tune it out. He didn’t begrudge our choice, but a book that begins with suicide was not for him.

    Like

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