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Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel by Lily…

Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel (2016)

by Lily Brooks-Dalton

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This is similar in tone to my two favourite post-apocalyptic books, The Dog Stars by Pater Heller and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, ie. melancholy, moving and somehow beautiful. It’s the end of the world as a long sigh. I’ll be thinking this book for a long time, just like I’m still thinking about The Dog Stars and Station Eleven. ( )
  EnidaV | Jul 7, 2018 |
I loved the characters in this eloquently-written novel. Even though Augustine was egotistical, vain, and arrogant, I liked him, and that is a difficult thing for me, to like a character with so many negative issues. That speaks to the author's skill as a writer. I loved the Arctic landscape, so open and free compared to the tight, cramped quarters on the spaceship; the juxtaposition of the two was a highlight of the story. This is an unusual novel, thoughtful and sincere. I read it in one sitting. ( )
  bookwren | May 16, 2018 |
Apocalyptic novels are not usually my thing. But one of my favorite booksellers recommended this to me with the caveat that it was more of a slow, quiet character driven novel than anything. And I'm so glad I gave this novel a chance because it was an unusual and strangely hypnotic look at the transitory nature of life and the importance and strength of connection.

78 year old Augustine is the lone researcher left at an Arctic station. He refused to evacuate with everyone else a year prior, intent on staying to continue his work and to solidify his scientific legacy. He hasn't heard from anyone since refusing transport. It seems as if the whole Earth has gone silent. In fact, he hasn't talked to anyone except a slightly feral young girl named Iris who was apparently left behind during the evacuation by mistake. Now it is only the two of them together in the harsh and unforgiving landscape, left to fend for themselves without any contact with the wider world or any knowledge of what might have happened out there. Iris tethers Augustine to humanity and it is for her sake and her future that he continues to scan for anyone out there with whom to make contact, even as he reflects on his past, knowing that his own future is short.

Sully is an astronaut traveling back to Earth with her colleagues after a mission to Jupiter that lasted two years. She and her colleagues are disturbed and apprehensive when their communications from Earth go silent but they can still hear all of the extraneous space chatter from satellites all over the universe, suggesting the problem is with Earth and not with their ship. The six astronauts have no choice but to continue on towards an unsettling unknown. As they travel onward, Sully has the chance to examine her relationship with her late mother, her ex-husband, and the young daughter she willingly left behind to go on this two year space journey. And as everyone on the ship retreats to deal with their fears over what might have happened on Earth to cause this communications blackout, Sully looks into the very heart of who she and each of her fellow travelers is.

The two narrative threads, one in the heavens above and one firmly planted on Earth, seem unrelated as they go back and forth, existing in parallel, only coming together late in the story. As the story progresses, the reader, like the characters, doesn't have any knowledge of what has happened on Earth, making this a novel of the present and the past with an unknowable future. It is very much a slow smolder of a novel. The vastness of silence reverberates through each scene and situation but even so there remains a strong connection to the idea of something greater than us, to space, to the natural world, to love. There is a powerfully quiet, melancholic feel to the writing as both Sully and Augustine examine their pasts within the quiet desperation of their individual presents. The reader will expect the reveal but the ending remains perfect, veering away from the accustomed to something much more fitting and in keeping with the overall tone of the novel. Dreamlike and introspective, this was not a quick read but its reflections on the importance of relationship, our bonds with others, the uncertainty of the future, and the examination of regret and isolation made it an absorbing read. ( )
  whitreidtan | Mar 11, 2018 |
A disaster that is never explained afflicts life on earth, leaving survivors only (apparently) at at Arctic station and a spacecraft returning from Jupiter. The narrative alternates between the two, and you can feel some sort of connection there. I became impatient waiting for the two groups to make contact, which happens almost at the end of the book and doesn't really explain or resolve anything. Then, two surprises in the story reveal a human connection that resonates powerfully and emotionally, and transforms the entire book, even though the characters involved never find them out. I wasn't sure I was going to like the book until the end, but it worked for me. Other reviews I've read have hoped for a sequel, but I'm lukewarm on that, since the unconnected threads in the story are what give it its kick. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jan 28, 2018 |
This was a lovely and melancholy literary science-fiction story that takes place after civilization has ended for unknown reasons. The story alternates between two viewpoints: an astronomer stranded in the Arctic Circle who makes a treacherous journey across the tundra, and an astronaut aboard a spaceship returning from a mission to Jupiter to a mysteriously silent Earth. This was a quiet and absorbing character-driven novel that I found quite moving. ( )
  sturlington | Jan 27, 2018 |
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I heave myself out of the darkness slowly, painfully. And there I am, and there he is . . . -- Jean Rhys
For Gordon Brooks
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When the sun finally returned to the Arctic Circle and stained the gray sky with blazing streaks of pink, Augustine was outside, waiting.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812998898, Hardcover)

For readers of Station Eleven and The Martian, Lily Brooks-Dalton’s haunting debut is the unforgettable story of two outsiders—a lonely scientist in the Arctic and an astronaut trying to return to Earth—as they grapple with love, regret, and survival in a world transformed.
Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, is consumed by the stars. For years he has lived in remote outposts—from Chile to Hawaii to Australia—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 that 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 crewmates are forced to survive on dwindling resources, and to wonder if they will ever get home.
With Augustine trapped in the cold Arctic and Sully in the infinite vacuum of space, each faces an uncertain future and must decide what comes next. Against two 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? Lily Brooks-Dalton’s captivating debut is a meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart.
Advance praise for Good Morning, Midnight
Good Morning, Midnight is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it’s the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart.”—Colson Whitehead
“What does it mean to be isolated from the ordinariness of the everyday world, yet to find the extraordinariness of being close to another human being? With imagination, empathy, and insight into unchanged and unchangeable human nature, Lily Brooks-Dalton takes us on an emotional journey in this beautiful debut.”—Yiyun Li
“A truly original novel, otherworldly and profoundly human . . . This beautiful story reminds us of our deep longing for connection—with those we love, with strangers, with ourselves. We come to understand that, across time and distance, in the face of isolation and emptiness, it is tenderness and communication that keep us tethered to each other. Good Morning, Midnight is a fascinating story, surprising and inspiring at every turn.”—Keith Scribner

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 24 Apr 2016 07:29:41 -0400)

Augustine, a brilliant, aging astronomer, refuses to abandon the research center in the Arctic when he receives news of a catastrophic event. Soon after, he discovers a mysterious child and realizes that the airwaves have gone silent. They are alone. Meanwhile, Mission Specialist Sullivan and her crew, the first astronauts to delve into deep space, discover that Mission Control is no longer on the air. Sullivan's career has cost her her marriage, and she has left her daughter behind. Will she ever get home? As Augustine and Sully face the uncertain future, their stories gradually intertwine towards a profound and unexpected conclusion, which raises questions: What endures at the end of the world? How do we make sense of our lives? A captivating meditation on the power of love and the bravery of the human heart. --… (more)

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