Review: Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
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?
Good Morning, Midnight was such a wonderful read. So calming and tranquil and that was surprising considering how uncertain everything is. I really enjoyed following the stories of Augustine and Sully.
This was an interesting story because something happened to the world, but we only know as much as the characters do which isn't much. Augustine was working in the Arctic when the evacuation planes came saying something catastrophic is happening, but no details. Augustine has always been a loner, never really made connections with people like everyone else seems to, so he chooses to stay. Stay alone in the Arctic and just live out his life that way. He can focus on his work or whatever he wants with no one else to distract him or need him for anything. Only he finds a young girl, Iris, after the plane leaves who disrupts all of his plans. He can't just ignore her and let her try and survive on her own. I loved watching these two. I loved seeing how Augustine thought of everything, how he reflects on his life and things that happened, and how he learned to feel close to someone with Iris as his only companion. With no one else apparently alive, the radio he scans for signals of other life stays silent, he does start to wonder what will happen to her once he is gone. He is not a young man so it is just a matter of time.
With Augustine is stuck in the Arctic on earth we also have the story of Sully and the rest of the crew of a spaceship that is returning from their trip to Jupiter only to find that suddenly they are alone in space. No more mission control, no more word from anyone on earth. Something like this shouldn't be able to happen, but they can't really do anything as they are at least a year away from earth at this point and each of the crew members reacts in a different way. It would be really strange to be so far away from everyone and not know what is going on. To have to spend a year trying to get home and have no idea what you will be going back to.
This story is really calming. The silences and loneliness that can accompany the last people alive. Augustine and his simple observations of what is going on around him, the animals and plants and seasons that come and go. It is all so tranquil and I loved it. To live so simply, to have nothing else and just survive sometimes sounds wonderful. I am sure it would be incredibly lonely, but it was beautiful at the same time. And Sully on the spaceship, even though she has a few other people with her, is just as lonely. The silences and moments that make up your life. Time and things we think are important start to not matter so much. It was a really interesting read and I really enjoyed it.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★1/2