Spoiler Alert, the following book review reveals details about the plot.
I had enjoyed a different approach of the author towards the apocalyptic genre. The book does not deal with survival techniques, but rather it is trying to explore the human feelings, decisions and actions when the world is not listening. The author has also put in a good amount of scientific details as to create a realistic feeling, yet not too much as the reader felt left out. However I feel like the author does not explore the aspect of human psychology well enough, which I have expected since “When the world stops listening, who do you become?” is on the cover. I feel like the fantasy stories themselves are beautiful and very unique yet they are not reaching their full potential. There are very big time gaps in between relative chapters, where weeks of stories is missing. Author took away the time, where supposedly nothing was happening, yet that time could have been used to explore the internal reflection of characters, could have used it to go into more details of the minds and feelings of the two main characters, without losing much of the actual story itself. I feel like that was well needed to make this book perfect, meanwhile that aspect felt soon forgotten and the story was just told as any other story, with the descriptions of situations rather than any deeper reasoning and insights of human mind. I also think there was too much reminiscent of characters past, especially Augustine. The story of his family and how he abandoned his lover and unborn child was told twice, and the second time I didn’t think as if I have gained any new insights into Augie’s mind and thought process and how it shaped him as a character. Overall both stories were great as stories go however I have expected more insights into human psychology during times of loneliness and world apocalypse, I was eager to see more of the thought processes, feelings and reasoning behind both characters.
Good Morning Midnight tells the story of two people, Augustine- a brilliant, ageing astronomer who is living in a research centre in the Arctic and Sullivan- a mission specialist aboard the Aether spacecraft on its return flight from Jupiter.
Chapters alternate between the stories and first off we meet Augustine 2 months after news of the catastrophic event. Other scientists were forced to evacuate, while Augie stubbornly refused to and stayed behind. 1 or 2 days after the evacuation, he finds a girl, Iris, about 8 yrs old, hiding in one of the dormitories. When she spoke for the first time, she spoke with American or Canadian accent according to Augustine. He tried to establish a contact to ask somebody to come back for Iris, but the airwaves have gone silent. The catastrophic event is never specified, but whatever it was it has either cut off all the means of communication, or there simply wasn’t anyone left to communicate with.
We learn that for this ageing astronomer, work was the only thing left, he decided to stay on his own in the Arctic, because he simply had nothing and nobody else to go back to. No family, no home. Working became the means to escape madness. Augie wants to pretend that he does not care about Iris, just as he didn’t care about anything in his life before, yet it is pretty obvious he has developed feelings towards the child and took on a protector’s role that he didn’t ask for.
In Chapter 2 we meet “Sully” Sullivan and her crew members. Their mission was to last 2 years, 1 year long journey to the Jupiter and 1 year long journey back. It’s been over a year and the 6 member team is on their way back to Earth. The journey to the Jupiter and all the data collected has been a success however there is nobody to send this data to. Mission Control is silent since the crew started their return trip and the crew members can’t contact anybody. All members are on the edge, all 6 of them are dealing with the situation in a different way, which causes them to become disconnected from each other as well as from the Earth.
Augie had killed a wolf when the animal got really close to Iris on one of their walks. When he came closer, the wolf was licking Iris, suggesting that the wolf wanted to do no harm in the first place. The animal’s death has upset Iris. This is the first time we see Augie vulnerable, he feels sad for killing the wolf (even thou it’s a deadly animal in an Arctic tundra and he 100% did the right decision), as well as feeling guilty for making Iris sad. Augie experiences loneliness and he’s afraid, because for the very first time, he cannot find comfort in the stars, in his work. This is brand new for Augustine, it takes him a while to recognise those feelings. I enjoyed this aspect of the book, when it goes into details about the specific feelings and reaction a character has, however it seems like moments like these were rare in the rest of the story. After this Augustine is taken by fever and nightmares. We learn about his past, how he was playing with women all those years, using them only as experiment subjects, how his mother was put into a psychiatric hospital and his father has passed away, before Augie even graduated. We learn the fact that Augie has a child with a brilliant scientist, but how he never took the responsibility and never settled down. He had tried to keep interested in the child’s life for the first few years, sending birthday presents, but then he has cut contact all together. After Augustine illness he realises that he’s old and that he needs to try his best to communicate someone so they can take care of Iris when he’s gone.
Around the same time we learn Sully’s story. She has left a daughter behind and her marriage has ended, those are the sacrifices she has made in order to excel at her work and go on a mission to Jupiter. She has made peace with that, but now that there is no communication with the Mission Control her work seems insignificant, there is nobody to share the data and observations with. She reminisces about the past. On the astronaut training she received. We learn the backstories of her crew mates but we also learn that Sully’s mother had little time for her when Sully was a kid as she put a lot of emphasis on her own work and how Sully was proud of that. She did not know her father and all she was told was that he was a very brilliant man. But then her mother remarried, gave birth to twins and gave up on her career, Sully was angry, didn’t feel like the part of the new family, her mother was giving love and attention to the twins that she never gave to Sully as a child.
The stories of Sully and Augustine continue. I don’t want to summarise it all, everybody will take in the stories differently, but there are some other key moments that happened.
Augie crosses the tundra to get to the weather outpost with better communication devices in order to find somebody to take care of Iris. For Sully, there is some fighting on board the Aether between the members, as well as other problems that are being slowly resolved. When Augie finally makes a contact, it is with Sully who is days away from scheduled landing on Earth. There is barely any information gained from this conversation for either of them as nobody knows what has happened to the Earth. Augie has encountered a yellow bear that was mentioned briefly. Now the bear for me made no significant impact when reading the story, it didn’t even feel like it was supposed to mean anything, yet Augie’s story end with him hugging the bear outside of his outpost, because he realises the bear is dying. Now I see two options to that:
1. I have not realised that the bear mentioned briefly along roughly 2 pages of the book had significant part in the story and its ending or
2. where the bear was meant to be a significant aspect of the story, yet somehow the book failed to capture that and it made for a nice but misunderstood ending.
Meanwhile, Sully and 2 of her crew mates are ready to come back to whatever is left of home, while the rest of the members has to stay behind, because the only capsule remaining does not have enough seats on it. And so Iris “Sully” Sullivan plummets down to Earth in a Soyuz capsule.