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Good Morning, Midnight

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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, rumors of war arrive. 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?

218 pages, ebook

First published August 9, 2016

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About the author

Lily Brooks-Dalton

3 books586 followers
Lily Brooks-Dalton's first novel Good Morning, Midnight (Random House, 2016) has been translated into seventeen languages and is the inspiration for the film adaptation The Midnight Sky ​(Netflix, 2020). Her second novel, The Light Pirate, is forthcoming from Grand Central in December 2022. She is also the author of a memoir, Motorcycles I’ve Loved (Riverhead, 2015), which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,762 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
December 26, 2020
******The movie version of the book starring George Clooney just released on Netflix under the title The Midnight Sky.******

”I heave myself out of the darkness slowly, painfully.

And there I am, and there he is…”

----Jean Rhys

It is interesting that Lily Brooks-Dalton named this book after the Jean Rhys’s novel of the same name. I’ve never read the Rhys’s book, but it is a notoriously depressing novel. The premise of this novel could certainly lead readers to believe that this book, too, is destined to be depressing, but for me it proved to be strikingly uplifting. Jean Rhys takes her title from an Emily Dickinson poem.

Good morning, Midnight!
I'm coming home,
Day got tired of me –
How could I of him?

Sunshine was a sweet place,
I liked to stay –
But Morn didn't want me – now –
So good night, Day!

Dickinson---Rhys---Brooks-Dalton are writers who are connected through strings of written words that are like strands of DNA passed from page to mind to pen from one generation of writer to the next. One writer lives in the next one who then influences the next one.

The Earth goes silent.

There is no bang, no debris cloud, no chaos.

Augustine, who elected not to be on the last plane out of the Arctic Circle, is strangely contented. He has never really cared for the rest of humanity. He has always been lost in his own brilliance and focused on his astronomy career, which took off like a meteorite, but now at 78 years old, he isn’t really sure if he has achieved all he was meant to achieve. ”His work ethic was strong, his ego engorged, his results groundbreaking, but he wasn’t satisfied. He had never been satisfied and never would be. It wasn’t success he craved, or even fame, it was history: he wanted to crack the universe open like a ripe watermelon, to arrange the mess of pulpy seeds before his dumbfounded colleagues. He wanted to take the dripping red fruit in his hands and quantify the guts of infinity, to look back into the dawn of time and glimpse the very beginning. He wanted to be remembered.”

He seduced women. He made women fall in love with him. It became a game for him. He played hot and cold and felt even more empowered over their desperate efforts to get him back. ”It was a thrill just to exist. There were control rooms full of humming equipment, enormous telescopes, endless arrays. There were beautiful women, college girls and townies and visiting scholars, and he would’ve slept with them all if he could have.”

There is, after all, only so much time in a day.

For most of us, if we were at the Arctic Circle or floating along in space and suddenly lost all contact with the rest of humanity, we would probably have a moment of panic or maybe even a complete meltdown. Augustine’s reaction was more along the lines of... huh, interesting. Of course, after being too high in the stratosphere his whole life to have relationships, beyond his physical needs, this isn’t that much different from his normal life, except things are quieter. He can focus.

Well, except some moron left their eight year old daughter behind.

How could this happen? Just at the moment he thought he was completely free, a cable snakes out from the ground snagging him, keeping him tethered to the Earth. He is angry. He was so close.

The other story we are allowed to follow is of Sully and her fellow astronauts on their way back from an exploration of Jupiter. ”The receivers were picking up the murmurs of space all around them, from celestial bodies millions of light years away---it was only Earth that wasn’t saying anything.”

The silence is deafening.

They are professionals who are trained not to panic. They will have been gone two years by the time they touch down on Earth. They put their minds to work on the possibilities. We are noisy creatures, now silent, which makes them believe that whatever is wrong with Earth is catastrophic.

Augustine would have never bothered to go fire up the radio, but now that he is responsible for Iris, he feels he needs to make some attempt to find another human being. He reaches Sully. Neither have the answers the other needs. They are both lost in their own desolations.

The calmness of this novel reminds me of On the Beach where the people who are left alive are resigned to their fate and are trying to enjoy the last few days of their lives. There is no pell-mell race for safety, because there is no safety. The publisher is also making connections to the recent post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven even to the extent of using very similar cover art. This is a mature work with tight prose and elegant observations. Brooks-Dalton even manages to make me like Augustine by finding the spark of humanity in him that was always smothered by his brilliance.

This is the most tranquil end of the world book you will ever read. Highly Recommended!

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
December 30, 2020

this is an interesting spin on the apocalypse genre: the end of the world as experienced by two characters who have already distanced themselves from the bustle of humanity - an astronomer named augustine who has been posted at an arctic research station for three years, and an astronaut named sully, returning to earth with her crew after a mission studying the moons of jupiter.

the cataclysmic event that causes the end is unspecified - the reader knows only as much as the characters themselves. augustine knows a little more than sully, having seen the other researchers at the observatory evacuated by the air force warning them vaguely of "something catastrophic," but augustine refused to leave, and from that point on, neither he nor the crew of the aether have been able to make contact with anyone on earth - the planet is nothing but silence.

the book itself absorbs and projects this silence into a very quiet apocalypse story. it's about loneliness and isolation and what's left when all the distractions have been cleared away. it's about introspection and regret and the choices these characters have made to leave family and other attachments behind in favor of ambition and career.

augustine is 78 years old and driven to leave an academic legacy that will endure after his death. he spent his life restlessly, moving from place to place and woman to woman, fathering a child he never met, half-heartedly sending money and presents until losing touch altogether. he's not a man drawn to companionship, …he would have been hard pressed to name someone he didn't despise, but after the evacuation, he discovers a little girl named iris left behind and, in the vast tundra at the end of the world, he gets a second chance at fatherhood.

He treated her like a pet because he didn't know what else to do - with clumsy kindness, but as a specimen of a different species. He fed her when he fed himself. Talked to her when he felt like talking. Took her for walks. Gave her things to play with or look at: a walkie-talkie, a constellation map, a musty sachet of potpourri he'd found in an empty drawer, an Arctic field guide. He did his best, which he knew wasn't very good, but - she didn't belong to him and he wasn't the sort of man who adopted strays.

iris is half-feral, very quiet and independent, and the two form a bond augustine has never before experienced, worrying about what will happen to her after he dies, left alone in the great absence.

He remembered that she was only a little girl, and that recollection kindled emotions he didn't quite recognize. Tenderness, perhaps, but something else as well, something darker - fear. Not of her, but for her. Was the journey safe? Had he thought it through? Should he be more careful with this tiny spark of life that had somehow ended up in his care?

the emptiness of his surroundings and this new responsibility give him clarity of perspective - he reflects upon his life, all of the opportunities he let slip by him, the irony of his determination to be remembered in a world in which no one is left to remember.

Augustine knew only about the distant stars, billions of miles away. He'd been moving from place to place his entire life and had never bothered to learn anything about the cultures or wildlife or geography that he encountered, the things right in front of him. They seemed passing, trivial. His gaze had always been far-flung. He'd accumulated local knowledge only by accident. While his colleagues explored the regions of their various research posts, hiking in the woods or touring the cities, Augustine only delved deeper into the skies, reading every book, every article that crossed his path, and spending seventy-hour weeks in the observatory, trying to catch a glimpse of thirteen billion years ago, scarcely aware of the moment he was living in…When he considered how long he had been alive, it seemed remarkable how little he had experienced.

meanwhile, sully and the crew of the aether are hurtling towards an uncertain future, knowing that something is very wrong after being unable to contact anyone on earth despite there being no evidence of mechanical failure on their end.

With each passing day, their separation from Earth became more acute. Now, after two weeks of silence, it was beginning to feel like an emergency. Without the tether of Mission control rippling through the vacuum, they were truly alone. Even though they had begun the long journey home, gradually closing the yearlong gap instead of lengthening it, the crew was feeling farther from Earth than ever. All six of them were coming to terms with the silence, and with what it might mean - for them, and for those they'd left behind on the now-mute planet.

sully has also chosen career over family; leaving behind an ex-husband and a resentful daughter who doesn't understand how desperately she needed to follow this calling, assuming there would be time in the "someday" to reconnect. like augustine, sully doesn't feel the connection with people that comes so naturally to others, but in the claustrophobic confines of the ship and the apprehension of the future, she finally finds the comfort to be had in community.

it's a slow-moving, highly descriptive book that makes the reader feel the weight of the emptiness and the terrible beauty of a silent world. it's so beautifully written that i can excuse the heavy-handedness of its treatment of coincidence and reveals. i may have rolled my eyes at one point, but for a debut novel, this isn't necessarily a dealbreaker - it just needed a little more finesse in handling those parts, and she handled the resolution well, avoiding a happy-slappy unrealistic ending. except for those few clunky bits, it's a very strong book.

but i gotta ask about that polar bear scene at the end. i understand its function as symbolism but, BEARing in mind

some of the other parts of the book, is this something that is actually happening? what are we supposed to make of this?

3.5 rounded up for wonderful descriptions and excellent helpless tension that overcame my reluctance to fully embrace the wonders of coincidence.

ugh, i had to pause this over a week ago and i'm finally able to return to it. sorry, book - thanks for waiting! good thing you're not a gerbil or you'd probably have eaten your toes or something by now.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
465 reviews1,275 followers
September 5, 2016
Dystopian you say? Groan....I picked this up with trepidation and only due to some rave reviews. But what I found was this narrative had the audacity to cut across my layer of bias and take me on a journey which was indeed of an apocalyptic nature but so much more.

So, this book. Took me by surprise. The story. The contrasts. The writing. The characters.

Two stories told in parallel - one being of Augie and Iris who have been abandoned at a remote station in the Arctic circle.
The other, revolving around the world literally, in a spaceship with a crew and Sully the main character, trying to make their return trip to Earth.
The caveat is, there is nothing to return to. The earth has gone silent. The hopelessness, the loss, the uncertainty of life. The need for human connection. Then the purity of love. The acceptance. The beauty. Imagine standing under the sun rays feeling the heat after a long, cold and dark winter; or seeing the stars light up in the darkness of the universe.

I only made the true connection once I closed these pages. Then I had to back track and I gasped. The wonderment I felt with how this author magically knit this story together. I loved it and won't forget it anytime soon.

Never judge a book by its genre. This gets 5*
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
July 17, 2018
I am unable to give it anything less than 5 stars for the author's gorgeous writing and the in depth characterizations. I loved the descriptive writing from the beginning which allows us the to see and feel what it was like living at the Arctic Circle. We also get glimpses of outer space, of what Jupiter may look like from the crew on a spacecraft, called Aether, but it was the passages describing the Arctic, it's landscape and wildlife that pushed this to 5 stars for me .

Augustine , an aging, astronomer has traveled the world studying the stars since he was a young man, having left behind any connection to anyone in his life, devoting himself to his work now in the Arctic. An unknown, unnamed catastrophe is occurring on Earth. He refuses to go back home when an aircraft comes to get him and his fellow researchers. He stays, bound and determined to spend the rest of his days doing his work so he can leave a legacy. He thought he was alone until a little girl named Iris comes into his life. Together they manage to make a life and Augustine experiences emotions he's never known - fear, feelings of nurturing, responsibility for another human being, love - what he didn't have for the child he left behind .

In a second alternating narrative belonging to Sully, we meet this astronaut who has traveled in space to Jupiter on the ship Aether, having left her young daughter behind with her ex husband in favor of her calling, her work as an astronaut. Sully and the rest of the crew are also left with the impending unknown doom of what may have happened on earth with no communication in weeks as they make their way back home. The author really takes us into the thoughts and pasts of these two characters and we come to know where they came from and perhaps why they made their choices. The loneliness they felt as children still haunts them now.

This is a quiet yet intense journey with the anticipation of if or when the paths of these two characters will cross, wondering who Iris is and how she got there and wanting to know what has happened on Earth. All of this is beautifully told. It's an amazing first novel about the relationships we have, about the choices we make in life, about the regrets, about acceptance of oneself and ultimately about redemption. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an author, whose future books I'll watch for.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley .
Profile Image for Candi.
598 reviews4,531 followers
June 7, 2017
"We study the universe in order to know, yet in the end the only thing we truly know is that all things end—all but death and time. It’s difficult to be reminded of that… but it’s harder to forget."

Ah, what a stunning and quiet, contemplative work of science fiction. I loved every minute of this book. The isolation yet the beauty of the landscapes, both of the harsh Arctic and that of the vastness of outer space, were utterly astonishing. Augustine and Sully are in no way perfect human beings. Yet, for this reason, I was drawn to them. I rooted for them and their survival.

Augustine has declined rescue from his station at the Arctic Circle, despite the fact that the entire research team has fled to some unknown destination after dire warning of some sort of catastrophic event which seems to be imminent on Earth. Sully is on the journey of a lifetime with a six-person crew on the spaceship Aether and is on her way back from a special mission to Jupiter when communication with Earth seems to have gone completely silent. Either situation would have suffused me with a complete sense of panic! Yet, the human instinct is one of survival, and these two will independently make it their mission to carry on despite the feeling of doom and an overwhelming sense of aloneness. Yet, they are not completely alone. Augustine realizes shortly after his team has fled that he in fact has a companion – a young girl named Iris has been left behind and he now feels the burden of responsibility. Sully has her fellow crew members and has hope that somehow she will be reunited with her family upon her return. Both reflect on the choices they have made in life. Do they have regrets? Can they make amends for the hurt they have caused others? Augustine was never one to think of anyone but himself, choosing a life of isolation, one without love. "… he learned that love was concealed by a swirling vortex of unpleasant emotions, the invisible, unreachable center of a black hole. It was irrational and unpredictable." But now there is Iris, a child who herself has been abandoned. He cannot simply think of his own needs any longer. Sully is left perhaps with a growing sense of regret about the family she has deserted for so long in order to carry out her life’s work. She is reminded of her own insignificance in a never-ending universe. "… she took in the overwhelming, infinite space that surrounded her. No beginning, no end, just this, forever. From here, the idea of Earth seemed like an illusion. How could something so verdant, so diverse and beautiful and sheltered, exist among all this emptiness?" When we reach the end of the day, or perhaps ultimately the end of all days, doesn’t it come down to one basic necessity – besides that of food and shelter – that of connection to another fellow soul, to seek the voice of another in this vast world of ours? It’s a scary thought indeed if we were to envision this no longer being a possibility.

I found this book to be very moving and one which really made me think. I have always had a fascination with the idea of infinity, but as I grew older it was an idea that was mostly kept in the background of my imagination. I was jolted back to the idea several years ago when my son, as a young child learning about the abstract idea of infinity, said to me “When I think about infinity, I feel like I don’t even really exist.” At the time, I remember feeling that overwhelming sense of isolation once more when I tried to understand his coming to terms with such a nearly unfathomable idea. I haven’t really thought about it again for some time until reading this book, and I love when something can stimulate my mind and stir my spirit. Oh yes, I did tell my son I was reading this book and filled him in on the basics. He asked me yesterday how the book ended. What happened on earth and where did everyone go? Indeed, that is a very good question.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,845 reviews16.3k followers
August 6, 2019
“No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.”
- John Donne

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

At its heart, this book is about loneliness – but also about connectedness, the primal need for humans to unite with one another.

Author Lily Brooks-Dalton has chosen as a means by which to demonstrate this idea a post-apocalyptic setting, similar in style and theme with The Martian and Station Eleven. The author divides her narrative into two related plots: one centering on an elderly astronomer left alone on a polar scientific station and the second a group of astronauts of the space ship Aether returning to earth after a two year voyage to Jupiter. Both have shut themselves off from their families for the sake of their work and both are paradoxically affected by the loss of communication with the rest of civilization after an apparent global catastrophe.

Like Jo Walton’s 2011 novel Among Others, the reading list for those on the Aether is compelling and includes Childhood's End and The Left Hand of Darkness – and these references serve to provide a subtle heightening of Brooks-Dalton’s message.

No man is an island and author Brooks-Dalton makes a persuasive demonstration of the need for human attachment as scientists – self aware and too often selfish of their work and prioritizing that work over human connections - find themselves cut off from the rest of humanity after an ambiguous loss. The old saying that “you never know what you had until you lose it” is a fitting axiom for the writer’s meaning.

Many times in the narrative the author uses the word and the term “tether” and this makes me think of Joseph Conrad’s 1902 short work The End of the Tether but also this is a fitting symbol for how we are connected to each other – thin and fragile lifelines that must be maintained, protected and nurtured.

In one particularly poignant scene, a character reflects that time didn’t matter anymore, that the only reason to keep track of time was to stay connected to the outside world, but without any sort of connection it was meaningless. This was a focal passage and narrows the emphasis on what the writer is imparting, that without each other, the work of science and of the arts and of just about anything is insignificant.

Our connections, the tethers that keep us bound together, are the barometers of our worth and efforts without connection are as lost and empty as the infinity of space itself – and here is where the Brooks-Dalton demonstrates her literary skill: that two characters – lost to each other, and to humanity – have lived their lives in emptiness, perfectly defined in metaphor by cold space itself.

Using elements of magic realism, and softly, subtly delivered impressionist notes of the paranormal, Brooks-Dalton conveys a duality of expression – one of heartbreak and another of redemption. While the realization that a life has missed its mark, that relationships and bonds that might have given purpose have instead been lost is devastating and heartbreaking, the simple and singular act of that recognition is a revitalization of its own and in its own way. Ultimately this is a book that explores the very human ability to forgive – especially oneself - and to move forward, no matter what may come.

Brooks-Dalton is an exceptionally talented writer and this novel will likely only be one in an impressive canon of work.

*** A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,845 reviews34.9k followers
August 8, 2019
The sentences ...
My God....are...
simply gorgeous.... it’s hard to find words to express the feelings and the appreciation of such gorgeous gorgeous — should I say it again? gorgeous writing.


In the minds of two extraordinary scientists .... that are essentially left alone - they are left to contemplate the meaning of life and death.
Examining their own loneliness and isolation...
silence becomes their best friend.
A very reflective story.
With each passing day separation between earth and space became more distinct.
Eventually after weeks of silence, sound was beginning to feel like an emergency.

Six members of the crew were coming to terms with the silence....(returning home after exploring Jupiter - they lost contact with mission operations).

This book is mostly character driven, rather than plot driven- ( which I enjoyed - as I tend to be more relationship oriented than I am hard core science fiction oriented)....
The characters are each mysterious in their own way.
Why did Augie decide to stay behind when other scientists were evacuating?
What is it we don’t know about the eight-year-old child, named Iris?
And how did Sully’s parents - emotionally and physically distant - affect the way she treated her own daughter?

The mystery about the characters resolve
themselves by the end....
but a bigger mystery was unsolved. We never learn what happened on earth... but were left to think about how little important ‘what happened’ is compared to dealings of inevitable change - loss - and a reality we would prefer to avoid or minimize.

I was left thinking about change and impermanence and what’s the best way to deal with change meaningfully and effectively.
Plus.....I thought this book was an opportunity to think about ourselves and the nature of reality.

Again....I must use that word gorgeous.
The prose is so outstanding...SOOOOO

Wise, wonderful, gentle, and profound....exploring relationships under extreme conditions.....this is surely one of the finest apocalyptic novels I’ve ever read.

Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
December 24, 2020
Sitting with him in the control room, and more broadly, joining him here at the end of civilization—the edge of humanity, measured in both time and space. He wondered how it happened, how she had arrived here and how she had stayed, where she came from, who she belonged to, whether she had any feelings on these subjects; she never once said anything about it, and it was somehow unimaginable that she ever would. She was a puzzle, but she was his puzzle, and her presence kept him working, kept him striving without rational expectation of success. It was possible, he mused, that she was what had kept him alive this long.
What if the end-of-the world arrived and you didn’t get the memo? Augustine Lofthouse, a legend-in-his-field astrophysicist is 78 years old. He was never much for connecting with people, which may be a good thing, as he has been alone at an Arctic research station for a year when we meet him, everyone else having been shuttled home on rumors of war. Well, almost alone. It seems that a young girl of indeterminate parentage was left behind, which is much more than cold comfort. All communications have ceased. For all he knows, Augie and the girl are the last people on Earth. But they are definitely not the last people.

The spacecraft Aether is making its way back to Mother Earth after an exploration of Jupiter and its moons. Its six-person crew includes Sully, Sullivan, a communications specialist. She is our point of focus on the ship. The only communications they can pick up are from automated space probes. Earth is dark and silent to them as well.

Lily Brooks-Dalton - from The Reed – photo by Daniela Maria

We follow Augie and Iris as they survive the long Arctic winter, explore that chilly world and cope with their isolation. We join Sully and the Aether crew as they make their way home, overcoming challenges both physical and psychological.

There is considerable beautiful descriptive prose in Good Morning, Midnight, offering a feel for vastness, emptiness, natural beauty and aloneness. For instance the book opens with
When the sun finally returned to the Arctic Circle and stained the gray sky with blazing streaks of pink, Augustine was outside, waiting. He hadn’t felt natural light on his face in months. The rosy glow spilled over the horizon ad seeped into the icy blue of the tundra, casting indigo shadows across the snow.
It goes on like this for a bit, but you get the (snow) drift. A lotta nice in that. And there are plenty more of this sort scattered throughout the book. And that is the main strength of the novel, that and the treatment of the last-man-on-earth trope, tweaked by the presence of the incomings.

A view from PEARL (Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab)in Eureka, Nunavut - from TheStar.com – photo by Dan Weaver

But there are many flaws as well. First, it is important to feel a connection to the main characters. And that is not so successful. Things may be looking up for both Augie and Sully, but that appears to be the only direction in which they can see. Augie is a certified loner, with little interest in people, hell, little interest even in his surroundings, a misanthrope whose sole focus in life has been work, work, work.
He’d accumulated local knowledge only by accident. While his colleagues explored the regions of their various research posts, hiking in the woods or touring the cities, Augustine only delved deeper into the skies, reading every book, every article that crossed his path, and spending seventy-hour weeks in the observatory, trying to catch a glimpse of thirteen billion years ago, scarcely aware of the moment he was living in.
There is certainly merit to the species from folks of this sort. I imagine many of our greatest advances have been at their hands. But this does not make them, necessarily, people you want to spend time with. Sully is a bit less of a loner, but she is portrayed inconsistently. Here is an astronaut who has gone on a multi-year mission leaving behind an ex-husband and a daughter, yet brings only a single photo of her child. Really? Ok. If we accept that, though, then her going all mush at one point seems out of character. There are other inconsistencies that call for a Louis-Black-style double take. Sully’s mother, we learn, was a very successful scientist, yet dropped her career, moved to Canada and spent her time raising her babies. Really? No thought given to, I don’t know, arranging for child care? I don’t buy it.
He didn’t understand love any better than the bear did. He never had. In the past, he’d felt the nibble of a lesser emotion—shame or regret or resentment or envy—but whenever that happened, he would turn his gaze to the sky and let awe wash it away. Only the cosmos inspired great feeling in him. Perhaps what he felt was love, but he’d never consciously named it. His was an all-consuming one-directional romance with the emptiness and the fullness of the entire universe. There was no room to spare, no time to waste on a lesser lover. He preferred it this way.
There is plenty in the book about aloneness, loneliness too, but less of the latter than one might expect. Family, or lack of same is a theme, one of the downsides of having an all-encompassing passion for one’s work. But is the passion for work a pure one or are there elements of it being at least in part a cover for not being comfortable relating to people? We are shown why both Sully and Augie might have become less than the most effusive of human beings.

Caoilinn Springall as Iris and George Clooney as Augustine Lofthouse in the Netflix film adaptation, 'The Midnight Sky' - image from The Hollywood Reporter

But then there are problems with the narrative, and eye-roller events that take one out of the story. For instance, Augie shoots a wolf that he fears is a danger to Iris, but when he goes to inspect the dying animal, it is licking Iris’s tears away. Fuh real? Eyedrops please, the abrasion from rolling requires immediate treatment. Another such is during a trip Augie and Iris take to a lake fifty miles from the base. That the remote base is better supplied than the main base seems unlikely. But if this is something that really happens, it could do with at least a little explanation. And during the trip, camping overnight en route, Augie laments that he did not think to bring materials with which to make a fire, but further down the page, he is heating food on a kerosene stove. What am I missing here? There are more of these, and every one takes you out of the story. And this does not even include a major plot contrivance that may leave some readers, hopefully with paper copies, hurling the thing across the room. No, I am not gonna say what it is. There are some lovely scenes in which Brooks-Dalton succeeds beautifully at showing without telling, so we know she has the licks, but then other scenes are wholly dominated by telling over showing.

Felicity Jones as Sully in the film - image from Entertainment Weekly

So the upside is some lovely writing. I am a sucker for that sort of thing. I was not bothered by the use of the MacGuffin and wrinkle of a last-person-on-earth, and a literal ends-of-the-earth locale for a scenario. It is not about the science. Neal Stephenson did this sort of thing pretty successfully in SevenEves. It is about the people. (Well, here it is. In SevenEves it is about something else.) The external extremity creates a dark canvas against which an illuminated character can stand out. See The Road for a fine example of that. But, while there are moments in which they shine, there are too many times when the characters’ lights are only as bright as the sun during the polar night. Brooks-Dalton shows considerable promise, and she is still very young. This is, after all, a first novel. She had gained some notice for a 2015 memoir, Motorcycles I’ve Loved, that detailed a two-wheel multi-year road trip of self-discovery. I expect good things from her in future. But, the talent is raw and unharnessed here. I expect her next effort will be more disciplined, and artistically successful.

Review first posted – 8/12/16

Publication date – 8/9/16

Film release - 12/23/20 - Netflix - Not yet seen

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, and FB pages

If you are a connoisseur of millennial pretention, you will certainly appreciate this puff piece profile of the author on Amy Poehler’s site.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,429 reviews29.4k followers
October 19, 2016
This book was absolutely extraordinary.

Loneliness is a powerful emotion, yet you can feel just as lonely while spending time with people, or in the middle of a crowd, as you might when you're completely alone. Lily Brooks-Dalton's powerful, haunting, contemplative debut novel, Good Morning, Midnight , is a meditation on loneliness, regret, ambition, love, and loss, through the eyes of two unique people.

"He was drawn by the isolation and the punishing climate, the landscape that matched his interior. Instead of salvaging what he could, he ran away to the top of an Arctic mountain, nine degrees shy of the North Pole, and gave up. Misery followed him wherever he went. This fact didn't faze him and it certainly didn't surprise him. He had earned it, and by then he expected it."

Augustine was once a brilliant astronomer, known as much for his devotion to his research as his self-destructive behavior and his reputation as a cruel manipulator of women. At the end of his career he is stationed in an Arctic research center, when news spreads that a catastrophe has affected the world, and all of the scientists must evacuate. But Augustine stubbornly decides to stay put, even though he knows he may never leave. While to his surprise he discovers a mysterious child abandoned in the research center, and that helps assuage his loneliness, when he discovers that the radio waves have gone silent, he wonders what will become of them.

"Even as a little girl the emptiness had called to her, and now she was a wanderer too. Remembering how her journey had begun distracted her from the uneasy question of how it might end."

At the same time, the crew of the Aether has just finished a groundbreaking voyage to Jupiter, going further into space than any before them. Mission Specialist Sullivan reflects on her journey to this moment, and the cost of this achievement—the end of her marriage, barely knowing her daughter. Yet traveling into space is all she has ever thought of, so she has convinced herself that the sacrifices were worth it. But when Mission Control goes silent for reasons they cannot explain, the crew must grapple with the idea that they may never make it home to Earth, and even if they do, life will not be the same as it was when they left.

Does pushing people away make you stronger, or does it leave you more vulnerable? What is the price of achieving your dreams, of reaching the pinnacle of your career, if you really have no one to share that with? Is it ever too late to make a true connection? These are some of the questions Augie and Sully ponder in this beautifully written book.

This truly blew me away. Brooks-Dalton created so much suspense that I kept waiting for a tragic event (beyond whatever has happened on Earth) to occur, yet I couldn't stop reading. I felt what these characters were feeling, and could picture what they were seeing so vividly, and that is a testament to her amazing strength as a storyteller.

It took a little while for the story to get going, but once it did, it honestly moved me and took hold of my heart. It reminded me a little of Peter Heller's The Dog Stars and, although I'm always loath to agree with the comparisons publishers draw, it also had a little bit of Station Eleven in it as well, but for those of you who were unimpressed by that book, it's more similarity of the feelings I felt than the actual plot.

I can't stop thinking about this, and wish the book were longer, because I want more time with these characters. Kudos to Lily Brooks-Dalton for creating an utterly captivating, gripping, truly beautiful world, and giving us the chance to visit.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews710 followers
June 9, 2017
When the world stops listening, who do you become?

Well..... wow... this was just a beautiful book. I have no words for it ... It really got to me.
The stillness of the story (unlikely for an apocalyptic story really). The poetry of every page. The beautiful language. The simplicity of it. The emotions, buried in the pages. I just enjoyed it immensely. Every page. Slowly. The pace is really slow actually and it fits Good Morning, Midnight. The alternating stories of Augustine, ageing scientist, out at the remote research centre in the Arctic Circle, looking back at his life, and Sully, mother and astronaut, on board the Aether on its return flight to earth, contemplating, surviving.... The rest of the world is silent, something catastrophic happened. It's just the Aether crew and Augustine and a mysterious child.... Full circle in the end.....
The beauty of it. Actually just what I needed. Extremely busy at work. Reading a few pages each evening... was really good.
So... five stars. Cried at the end. That's almost always a five star to me ;-)
Highly recommended...

I heave myself out of the darkness slowly, painfully. And there I am, and there he is...
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,684 reviews2,239 followers
July 13, 2016

There is a moment, after the planes have left the Arctic Circle, when Augustine ponders the wisdom of remaining after all the others have gone. Before the snow even settles, that moment is gone, as surely as all the others are, as well. He’s alone. On the Arctic Circle. He ponders this much like if it were a theory he’s trying to unravel. He’s never been inclined to seek others out, maybe in his earlier days when he sought the acclaim of his brilliance, the glory of accolades in his career. Maybe, even, in his younger days when he sought out the physical attentions of beautiful women. But those were all a game of manipulation, cruel games. He never wanted more than the release of physical coupling. He tries to label the feeling he has at this moment. Contentment. A nagging refrain reminds him that the last thing the crew said before departing, there would be no return. He shrugs the thought away. No matter, a small price to pay for this peace, and after 78 years on this planet, he welcomes the silence like a friend.

Above in the beyond where his thoughts live, on course to return to earth from studying Jupiter and her moons are Sully and crew, six members, aboard the Aether. This experience has changed them; shown them how insignificant their lives were, really. Infinitesimally small set against the infinity of space. Their thoughts move more slowly through their days, still mesmerized by the sights from Jupiter. They do not speak of this, each lost in their own thoughts.

A day or two after Augustine has been marooned, rummaging through all that was left behind, rearranging things his way, he discovers a child hiding in one of the now-empty rooms. She’s silent, her hair a tangled mess, and big round eyes staring at him. Nothing left to do but make sure she’s fed and maybe even cared for, and radio the military base. No answer, just silence.

Sully hasn’t had contact from Mission Control in over two weeks. She isn’t concerned; she just wishes she could share their discoveries with someone else. This is too big, too important, the world should know. It wasn’t the equipment.

Earth is silent.

Augustine continues to reach out to connect with someone else, to hear a voice – not for himself, you understand, but now with Iris, he feels a responsibility to her. He worries what will become of her if his health fails. She can’t be more than eight years old. No, he needs to reach out for her sake. He loses almost all hope, he begins to think that maybe there was some catastrophe, but surely they can’t be the only survivors? He falls asleep listening to the white noise of the radio waves, dreaming of a voice, a woman���s voice. He shakes himself awake, not sure if a voice awakened him, or it was just the dream itself… he shouts “Hello?”… silence… “Hello?”…. nothing…. “Hello?” He’s desperate to hear the voice of his dreams.

There’s a serene, ethereal quality to these settings. Each so quiet, so isolated and uninhabited. The characters have such a tranquil composure that heightens the sense of serenity. A breathtakingly lovely debut novel about isolation, loneliness, the choices we make, and the regrets we are left with at the end of our days.

Pub Date: 9 August 2016

Many thanks to Random House, NetGalley, and to author Lily Brooks-Dalton for providing me with an advanced copy.

Profile Image for Iris P.
171 reviews202 followers
March 29, 2017
Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

★★★★★ 5 Shining Stars!

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."
Carl Sagan


After reading Goodnight Morning, Midnight, an article I'd read in The New York Times a few days earlier came to mind. It described how the City Council of Reykjavik in Iceland, temporarily turned off its street lamps and encouraged its residents to do the same.
The purpose of the exercise was to facilitate the viewing of the Aurora Borealis, a natural light display that in order to be visible, requires darkness and clear skies.

According to The Guardian, due to the phenomenon known as light pollution, the Milky Way is not longer visible to approximately a third of all humans, including 60 percent of Europeans and a whopping 80 percent of North Americans.

As more and more people live now in urban areas, the reflection of artificial lights impedes our ability to watch the sky and engage in a hobby that has awed and inspired humans for millennia: stargazing.

Good Morning, Midnight is a novel about our search for knowledge and our fascination with space exploration. It is also a story that asks us to reflect on our deeply ingrained need to commune with nature and of course with other human beings.

The book's two main characters are both people of science, Augustine (Augie), is a 78-year-old astronomer who is stationed at the Barbeau observatory located in the Arctic circle. Sullivan (Sully) is a mission specialist on board of spaceship called the Aether. Along with 5 other astronauts, she is on her way back to Earth returning from a space mission that was sent to explore Jupiter’s moons.

In pursuit of their careers, Augie and Sully have given up on any resemblance of a normal life. Augie who never married but many years before, chose career over a love interest and a daughter that was conceived. After a difficult divorce, Sully had also left a young daughter behind.
Their story lines are narrated in alternative chapters and we get to know their personal backgrounds as well as the motivations behind their lives's choices.

As the story opens, Sully's observatory is swiftly evacuated due to an obscure event that, while not explained, appears to be cataclysmic in nature. Augie decides to stay in the observatory by himself, shortly after he finds Iris, a mysterious 8-year-old girl who looks to have been forgotten by her family. At the same time, the crew of the Aether has lost contact with their mission control center and just like Augie, they have no answers to what has caused these developments.
The Milky Way over North West Victoria Australia last night photo the-milky-way-over-north-west-victoria-australia-last-night_zpspi7rqkcd.jpg
Stargazing the Milky Way from North West Victoria, Australia

Sully and Augie spend months frantically trying to make contact with others and after many frustrating attempts, they eventually find each other via radio transmissions. Those exchanges are brief but they give Sully and the rest of the crew the motivation to keep looking for ways to get back to Earth, even though they are afraid of what they'll find once they are back.

What I loved the most about this novel is its subtle approach to a potential end-of-the-world scenario. I haven't read many post-apocalyptic novels, but the ones that have impacted me the most are those whose focal point is the stress and psychology of survivors, rather than the actual details behind a cataclysmic event.

As Augie tries to get in touch with anyone outside the base, he thinks to himself that it is "as if there were no radio transmitters left in the world, or perhaps no souls to use them.” To me there's nothing more terrifying than the possibility of being completely disconnected from other humans beings.That eerie silence could be scarier and more unnerving than any likely physical threat.

Augie and Sully find themselves in two of the most isolated places one can imagine: outer space and the Arctic Circle, environments that proved to be ideal for soul-searching and self-reflection. Both of them used this time to consider the decisions they've made and how those decisions affected the people they abandoned.

Brooks-Dalton's descriptions of the Arctic Tundra are particularly lyrical and atmospheric. I loved how as Augie spends more time with Iris, her innocence and sense of wonder permeates to him and as he contemplates his mortality, we witness his deeply emotional awakening.

I understand why for some readers the novel's conclusion left too many unanswered questions, but my sense is that this was a conscious decision by the author to preserve the evocative and contemplative spirit of the story.

Our obsession with these types of narratives seems to me to be a reflection of something that we at once long for and fear; that is, the possibility that there is nothing else out there or that there's so much more.

Good Morning, Midnight is a deeply introspective novel in which the larger events take backstage to the exploration into the psyche of these characters. It's also a celebration of nature and our connection to it. Finally, it asks us to consider, without that vital human bond, what is the ultimate purpose of gathering knowledge and of science itself?
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,560 reviews5,816 followers
April 16, 2017
Sully is a mission specialist on board Aether. One of a team she had dreamed of the mission forever. A two year journey into space to study Jupiter and it's moons, up close and personal. The thing is..they have lost contact with any one on Earth. At first it seemed like a fluke but as the weeks go by the crew begins to realize that something more is going on.

A different viewpoint of the story is told by Augustine, an aging astronomer stationed in the Artic who refused to be evacuated when the rumors started flying about something being funky in the world. Shortly after everyone leaves him alone he is joined by a young girl named Iris.
He is kinda a warty character and honestly I could see him hating people enough that he didn't want company..so the interaction between these two characters kept promising me something or I knew I was gonna be ticked off if it went where I thought it would.
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I was wrong and right in a way. I liked that stuff. The story wraps itself up in a way that made me think, even if it hurt my head.
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This writing is amazing too, you alternate from that closed in feeling up in space to the desperate loneliness of the Arctic.
I will say that if not ever finding out exactly what caused everyone to not exist anymore is going to drive you crazy that you should get ready. You never know. BUT this book is one of the few stories where you just don't have to. It's good enough without knowing a dang thing.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,388 reviews6,646 followers
August 23, 2016
T S Eliot wrote that the world would end with a whimper instead of a bang, but if you’re in space or at the frozen wasteland at the top of the planet you might not even hear that much when it finally happens.

Augustine is an elderly astronomer who refuses to leave his Arctic research station after an unspecified world emergency causes the evacuation of everyone else there. He soon loses contact with the outside world, but a mysterious young girl becomes his only companion. Meanwhile, Sully is a female astronaut on the spaceship Aether that is returning from a mission to explore the moons of Jupiter, but they’ve lost all contact with Earth even though their equipment is functioning perfectly. The unsettling silence from home and what it means begins to deeply affect the crew.

Augustine and Sully, with one surrounded by ice and the other floating through a merciless vacuum, may be in vastly different circumstances, but they have a lot in common, too. They’re both people who deliberately avoided family entanglements and steady domestic lives to pursue their scientific dreams. In his younger days Augustine was always ready to move on to the next observatory once his chronic womanizing had worn out his welcome somewhere. Sully left her daughter in the care of her ex-husband to pursue her quest of going into space. Their isolation and fear make both of them reflect on their lives as they wonder if their choices had any meaning at all one way or another considering the now silent Earth.

This one belongs to be shelved along with other literary apocalypses like The Road or Station Eleven although this is definitely it’s own thing. (However, the cover certainly appears to be designed to evoke Station Eleven.) It’s extremely well written, and at about 250 pages it doesn’t have a wasted word. It’s by far the quietest end of the world story I’ve read, and that’s fitting with its settings as well as the lack of noise from Earth being the thing that lets you know something has gone terribly wrong.

It’s also got some nicely straightforward and pragmatic descriptions about the logistics of life in a mostly abandoned scientific station and a state of the art spaceship rocketing towards home. There’s enough to make both these places feel vivid, but whereas some books of this type become all about how you survive end-of-the-world scenarios this one keeps it focus on the inner lives of its two main characters which ends up being more compelling than how Augustine gets a snowmobile started or Sully helps fix a problem on her ship.

It’s the silence and the questions about what may have happened that lurk in the background here and give the book a haunting quality, but those questions end up being relatively unimportant. It’s the story of these two people and their deeper connections that really matters.

I received a free advanced copy of this for review from the publisher.
Profile Image for Katie.
257 reviews327 followers
March 6, 2017
I’ve got a hunch you’re much more likely to enjoy this if you read it quickly, in one or two sessions. If you read it like I did, twenty pages or so at a time there will be days when nothing moves forward, when you’re faced with page upon page of padding.

Essentially it’s a novel that’s built around one fairy story idea. And all its best moments have a fairy story quality. Problem is, there’s also a lot of rather banal soul searching. Usually I don’t see twists coming but I had guessed this novel’s two twists after fifty pages. That wouldn’t have mattered had I found the characters and the writing compelling but for the main part I didn’t.

Most of the novel focuses on the interiority of the two main characters. Augie is basically the latest incarnation of Scrooge and though thoroughly predictable in his development he held my interest reasonably well. Sully, the astronaut who has abandoned her child to further her career, didn’t hold my interest at all and in fact often irritated me with her peevish sentimentality. She’s constantly shown as passive. Her head is often on a pillow in the novel. Usually remembering stuff but without bringing any new animating wisdom to her recollections. Her backstory reads like perfunctory reportage, upholstery. Personally I felt I was learning about Sully through Augie and there was no need for her constant dreary flashbacks which replace in the novel any lively interaction or character development of the crew of the spaceship. Put a few individuals in a closed environment and kinships and explosive antagonisms soon develop – it’s the secret of the success of Big Brother. Life on this spaceship is bland. We have a moody Russian, an excitable chap from the Middle East, a dreamy Indian woman and Mr Love Interest. For me Sully should have had a harder crust which slowly melted. That would have made her more interesting, more active too. Instead it felt like the author was trying too hard to make her likeable and so she comes across as wishy washy.

It’s one of those novels that is a film in the making. Walt Disney will love it. And I can easily imagine the film being better because they’ll cut the banal soul searching and liven up the characters and relationships on the space ship. And the Augie ending is brilliant.

Apologies to all those who loved it. I can be a cynical beast!
Profile Image for Terrie (mostly "in" now) Robinson.
356 reviews516 followers
July 23, 2022
"Good Morning, Midnight" by Lily Brooks-Dalton is Dystopian Sci-Fi Fiction with touches of Magical Realism!

Seventy-eight-year-old Augustine Lofthouse, a gifted astronomer living at a research center in the Arctic Circle, refuses to leave with other scientists during a forced evacuation. Even with rumors of war, a looming shadow in his thoughts, Augie would never choose to abandon his work.

Augie believes he's alone now and then he finds a child. She barely speaks but tells him her name is Iris. He's never noticed any children before, yet here she is. Surely someone will discover she's missing and return for her.

When no one returns for Iris, Augie radios the military base on Ellesmere Island. No one answer. He continues to scan all frequencies, without a response, receiving only the sounds of static. As a deep foreboding rushes through him, Augie tells himself there must be a reason for this.

He'll try again tomorrow!

Mission Specialist Sullivan is aboard the spacecraft, Aether, on its return trip from Jupiter to Earth. Sully and her fellow crew mates are the first humans to delve this deep into space guided with minute precision by Mission Control.

Soon they discover Mission Control is no longer responsive. Now the astronauts must carry on with the strict regimentation set for them but without the voices from Earth to monitor them. The entire crew begins to wonder if they'll ever return home and what they'll find when they get there!

This author weaves a story with beautiful writing, believable characters, an unknown disaster and it is nothing short of amazing how all the pieces tie together. Augie and Sully have each chosen a life with few attachments, placing their work in the forefront of their lives. Now, faced with uncertainties their thoughts travel through the choices they've made and regrets begin to settle in.

Dystopian Fiction is a new sub-genre for me and it has been ages since I've read Science Fiction but I'm thrilled with the result of running across this one! This is not heavy Sci-Fi but rather has the feel of a character study of how regrets can haunt you when you believe there is nothing left in your life to sustain you and yet you reach out for another voice. The touches of Magical Realism are a bonus!

This author took me on a journey I didn't want to end thanks to my GR friend 'Melissa ~ Bantering Books' who brought this author and her books to my attention. I'm looking forward to reading the ARC for Brooks-Dalton's upcoming book "The Light Pirate" due to publish 12/6/22!

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy Dystopian Sci-Fi Fiction with touches of Magical Realism and to anyone who enjoys a well-written story!
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,685 reviews14k followers
July 12, 2016
When the arctic circle is evacuated due to some unknown crisis, Augustine, in his seventies refuses to leave. He has spent his life looking towards the heavens and refuses to abandon what he considers his life. Sully and her crew, are returning home after their spaceship has successfully completed their mission of installing probes on Jupiter's moons, when they lose all contact with mission control.

This is set in the future, exact date unknown, but these few people may be the only ones left on earth. The quietness of this novel is profound, and the scenario is disquieting in itself. Is being alone the same as loneliness? Augustine finds a young girl, Iris, apparently left in the hurry of the evacuation, but who is she? So many questions. when they think they are the only ones left, how does their thinking change? Can we only truly want to be alone when we know that there are still people out there, people that can be reached at anytime? So many questions.

The author is at her best when describing the Arctic circle, the cold, the snow, the arctic hares jumping about, the flowers in spring, can picture it all as Augustine and Iris experience the same. The inside of the spaceship, the different jobs, the six people and what they are experiencing, immersive. This is not a book for people who want definitive answers, pat endings, you won't get that here. I finished this book with more questions then answers and I was okay with that, I just enjoyed the experience of reading this very unusual story.

ARc from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,846 followers
February 6, 2017
There were a few things to this novel that I quite enjoyed, such as the level of description of the mundane life aboard the spacecraft that had seen Jupiter. That whole part of the story was like a slightly better written Clarke in 2001, but without the drama or conflict.

And that's where my problems really stem from, too. The main conflict is silence. Literally. and what we're really got going on in the novel is two character studies between a broken, self-isolating man named Augustine and his entire life and death in an arctic wasteland (avoiding the rest of the Earth's catastrophe), and the few returning people within the spacecraft with the PoV focus coming from Sully.

It's a novel of isolation and loneliness. Plain and simple. I assume the end for Augustine was a fever dream revolving around the realization that it's not good to be alone, while Sully's decision stemmed from the same stark, bare hope.

It almost feels like a traditional mainstream novel that has been souped-up a bit to slide into the SF category. There's no breathtaking ideas, just the reliance on Emily Dickenson to carry the core concept of a whole novel. It's decent as far as that goes, but that's all it does. A long character study of self-isolation and realization with two characters who are mildly interesting and wind up in mildly interesting situations, both of which are the results of their decisions.

But me? I wanted to know more of the core mystery. There's never a resolution and that was intentional. I ask why, and alas, this is my issue, my burden, and the reason I didn't care so much for this novel. I could find picture of a lone mountain climber looking over a precipice to get the same emotions and it wouldn't take me a whole novel's length to get there.

Others might get more out of this, and I wish you all the luck in the world!
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,016 reviews652 followers
December 23, 2016
A handful of astronauts are finally on their way home from a two-year space mission, eager to touch down on their home planet. Then, jarringly, all connection to Mission Control is lost, and the problem does not lie with the spaceship's equipment. What on earth are they coming home to?

Meanwhile, at the Arctic circle, an old astronomer revels in his aloneness after refusing to evacuate the outpost with the rest of his crew. The dire warning is that there will be no chance of a return trip, this is a one-time only chance to leave. It matters not to old Augustine. But he's not entirely alone. . .

The planet has gone dark, with a silence so profound it is deafening. And so very, very cold. Quiet, haunting, and somehow quite beautiful.
Profile Image for Dianne.
548 reviews882 followers
February 20, 2017
Wowsers............so, so good and different from what I was expecting! I thought this was going to be a sci-fi dystopian novel (a la "Station Eleven") and there was a bit of that, but the beating heart of this story is about the human need to connect.

The loneliness in this novel is palpable. There are two story lines - Augustine, a brilliant and remote 78-year-old astronomer whose gaze has always been upward into the cosmos, is alone at an abandoned observatory in the arctic circle. A world emergency (never explained) has caused a mass evacuation of the observatory. Augie, understanding he has nowhere else to go, refuses to evacuate. To his consternation, he finds a 7-year-old girl, Iris, left behind who he is now responsible for. The two of them are utterly alone, in the silent and frozen north. The radio equipment finds no communication...all frequencies are just static.

The other story thread involves the crew of the spaceship Aether. Aether is returning to Earth from a 2-year mission to Jupiter's moons. As they leave Jupiter, mission control on Earth falls silent. The silence and its implication weighs on each of them deeply. The focal crew member is Sully, the female communications officer. She desperately searches the radio frequencies, connecting with distant space probes and satellites, but nothing at all from Earth.

Deeply introspective and very atmospheric, with lovely writing and memorable characters. This novel reminded me very much of "Sweetland," which I adored - solitary and stoic figures in harsh and unforgiving environments, yearning for connection. There is a little twist at the end that I really liked, but I suspect not everyone will buy it.

I can't predict who will like this and who won't. All I can say is I devoured it in a single day and wouldn't change a word of it. I appreciated that Brooks-Dalton avoided sentimentality and sensationalism in favor of dignity and a quiet contemplation of the unfathomable. I loved it.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,861 reviews10.5k followers
July 15, 2016
Augustine lives alone an an observatory at the north pole, living out his days doing what he loves when everyone else evacuated. Sullly is an astronaut on the way back to Earth from Jupiter. How will their lives intersect?

I got this from the fine folks at Random House.

Good Morning, Midnight is a story of loneliness, time, and deciding what's important. The two main characters, Augustine and Sully, both live lives of isolation. Augustine is an astronomer at the north pole and Sully is a Specialist on a space voyage. Both have their ways of life uprooted. Augustine meets Iris, a mysterious girl left behind after the evacuation and Sully suffers loss and hope on the Aethir.

Lily Brooks-Dalton paints some awesome scenery. Both settings were very well realized. I shivered a few times during Augustine's parts and felt pretty claustrophobic at times during Sully's. On the surface, it feels like a science fiction story but it's really an exploration of loneliness, drive, and isolation.

I guessed the connection between Augustine and Sully early on. I think Iris' origins were left intentionally ambiguous. By and large, I can't think of a whole lot to complain about. The writing was crisp, I cared about the characters, and I was pretty enthralled by the whole thing.

Caution - Possible Spoilers: There was some ambiguity I didn't care for, though. I wouldn't have minded finding out what catastrophe befell Earth while the astronauts were away. Iris possibly being Augustine's fever dream the entire time cheapened his thread, I thought. I think some people won't like that Augustine and Sully never actually meet. I was fine with that part, though.

Good Morning, Midnight was above and beyond the simple science fiction novel I thought it would be, riding the line between sci-fi and serious literature. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Philip.
496 reviews660 followers
March 6, 2017
4ish stars.

This is much more of a "mood" book than a narrative one, so expect a lot more "feels" than plot movement or explanations and resolution. I'd say don't expect to feel satisfied at the end, but I think that's unfair because we're left with a strong lasting impression and a lot to ruminate on and that's a special kind of satisfaction in itself.

Brooks-Dalton has a very natural descriptive voice that immerses us in the distinct settings and makes us feel connected to the characters who she obviously cares about and knows inside and out. Those were the highs for me. It's a slow burn to be certain, but a beautiful one.

There are several dichotomous themes the book is based on, particularly loneliness/connectedness. The characters are each isolated/connected in various degrees. They each experience different levels of regret/acceptance. I takes their complete engagement in their jobs and callings to realize how disengaged they are from everything else. Including time- the only indication of time the astronauts have is the dimming and lighting of the simulated sunrise/sunset. Augie is subjected to the unending Polar night. But who needs to keep track of time once time becomes obsolete?

The questions left hanging at the end seem to be intentional. What happened? and What happens next? in the broad narrative sense play second fiddle to How did I become this? and Can I come to terms with it? in an individual, internal sense.

I think enjoyment level will vary based on mood, but it's definitely worth a read.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,111 reviews1,975 followers
April 1, 2018
And then suddenly from left field comes a book which is practically perfect from an author I have never heard of before. In fact I believe it is her first fiction book. Let's hope she writes many more!

It may be dystopian, it may be science fiction, but it is also totally readable by anyone who likes to read fiction. I loved the descriptions of the Arctic Circle, the snow, the polar bears, the arctic hares, the flowers, the Aurora and so much more. That was only half the story. On the other side there is a space ship returning from an exploratory mission to Jupiter, where we learn about life in space , the beauty and the harsh daily realities.

The dystopian event is quiet, sudden and unexplained but I felt a chill when the space ship, returning home, saw no lights at all from Earth. Imagine the whole planet in total darkness. What kind of event could cause that?

The ending is amazing and I was left stunned. Still thinking about it - there is so much to wonder about that is left unsolved. I really recommend reading this book!
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,016 reviews551 followers
August 8, 2019
My perfect SF novel would be one containing a good deal of fiction and just a little science – enough to make the world feel different, to spark the imagination. I’m also an apocalypse junkie, so an end of the world scenario is always welcome. Therefore, on the face of it, this book should be perfect for me. Told in alternating voices, we hear of the plights of Augustine (Augie) and Mission Specialist Sullivan (Sully). Both are scientists with an interest in what exists beyond Earth. When we meet them each is removed from the daily reality of life on this planet. Seventy-eight-year-old Augie, a top astronomer, is seeing out his final research project deep in the Arctic Circle. Sully is part of a six-man crew returning from an exploratory trip to Jupiter. Then everything changes. For Augie it’s that the team around him are suddenly evacuated from the camp amid rumours of war impacting the populated world. Augie refuses to join the evacuation. Sully’s ship suddenly loses all contact with their control team on Earth.

It’s tempting to compare the two sides of this tale to The Road and The Martian, but that would be too simplistic. The prose here is less bleak than the former and more literary than the latter. The fact that events leading to the isolation of Augie and Sully’s team are kept to the background means that the focus is almost entirely on their predicament. But rather than focussing totally on the nuts and bolts of their attempts to contact other humans and to simply stay alive we are treated to a much deeper tale of lives lived. There are regrets concerning people left behind, resentments over treatments received and rumination on opportunities missed. But it’s definitely not a sentimental catalogue of what might have been, more a growing awareness and acceptance of who they each are.

Of course there is more to this story than I’ve covered, but I think it’s best for readers to discover this for themselves. For me, this book did feel like the ideal SF novel. The character development was excellent and the way the important events in each of their lives was allowed to unfold throughout the narrative really helped to ensure that the pacing was spot on. I loved it. Thank you Jen for bringing this one to my attention via your Goodreads Review of 2016.
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
580 reviews326 followers
March 15, 2018
5 🌠 🌠 🌠 🌠 🌠
Truth: "No one who reads Good Morning, Midnight will ever forget it." - New York Times

They are “fighting an absence instead of a presence,” an ending instead of a beginning. All the descriptives I’ve seen about this book are also true:

Best of the year

Despite likeminded friends who also are not fans of the dystopian/apocalyptic genre but gave assurances that this one was special, I waited too long to read it because my library was very tardy about finally ordering just one paperback copy. So much for my stinginess as I will be buying my own and reading it again, then probably again.
When facing the ultimate end, what remains? The absolute essential past and present self laid bare. In deep space, on a silent earth, inside me, I treasured the journey this took me on.
Profile Image for Hannah.
583 reviews1,041 followers
October 17, 2016
It is no wonder I loved this book - as it combines pretty much everything I look for in a book. I wouldn't say that it was perfect (but pretty damn close to it).

This book tells the story of the end of the world - but the reader doesn't know what happened. We follow Augustine - a 78-year-old astronomer who decides that rather than be evacuated from the North Pole like the rest of the scientists he'll spend the last years of his live there - and Sully - one of six astronauts on a mission to Jupiter's moons and back. As both of them lose contact with the rest of humanity, they have to come to terms with the decisions that led them to where they are. In the beginning I prefered Augustine's chapters but Sully really grew on me and by the end I cared about her a lot more.

Both protagonists are not what you'd called "people people" - especially Augustine made some questionable decisions in the past.

The story is told in flashbacks which help explain how those two became the way they are and how they might be connected after all. I do love stories that are told non-chronologically, so this was right up my alley. It fit perfectly - because there might not be a future for anybody anymore.

The atmosphere of loneliness created by Lily Brooks-Dalton was amazingly well done. She captured both the North Pole as well as Outer Space in a way that made sense to me and painted an incredibly vivid picture.

There were minor problems for me - for one, sometimes things were repeated(as in somebody would enter a space, something happened and then they entered again) and also the timeline seems to be a bit wonky. But this did not change the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I will for sure buy a hard copy for my shelf (related: how pretty is that cover?!).

I received an ebook curtesy of Netgalley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,660 followers
November 18, 2016
A lyrical and poignant elegy for Earth, imbued with irrepressible hope, Good Morning, Midnight is one of the loveliest books I've read in such a very long time. Lily Brooks-Dalton's keen and delightful imagination, paired with a natural compassion and her gorgeous, lucid prose, make this a book I thought of in the hours when I had to leave it behind.

Two stranded souls, one in the Canadian Arctic, one in deep space, struggle to communicate with their own hearts and conscience. They've each chosen a life of isolation, turning their backs on their families and conventional life on earth. Augustine, an aging astronomer, opts to remain at a remote outpost while the rest of the station flees south in the midst of an unexplained apocalyptic event. Sully, part of a six-person crew exploring Jupiter and its four moons on the ship Aether, wonders if she will see the daughter she left behind nearly two years before, having chosen career over active motherhood. When Aether loses contact with Earth, another year of the return journey looms before them and the crew struggles to keep their anxiety and bewilderment at bay.

In that year, Augustine copes with his own terrible isolation. But he is not alone. Inexplicably, a young girl, Iris, has been left behind in the melee of a panicked departure. Old man and little girl survive together, until the endless night of Arctic winter gives way to the midnight sun of summer.

Augustine and Sully's stories alternate chapters in a delicate interweave as Aether approaches Earth and the crew contemplates how it will land on a planet where there may be no one to greet them.

Walking the same wondrous literary path as Ursula K Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Mary Doria Russell, Lily Brooks-Dalton offers a work of speculative fiction that reaches readers who are certain they wouldn't care for a book set in space or with a dystopian theme. Like these writers, Brooks-Dalton's work is about the characters, not the techniques, and her prose is astonishingly beautiful - a seemingly-effortless flow of description and dialogue that bring setting and character to vivid life.

Heart-rending but unsentimental, Good Morning, Midnight will stay with me, quietly burrowing under my skin and into my heart, for many winters and summers to come.
Profile Image for Ron.
375 reviews83 followers
November 20, 2016
This is the second book I’ve read in recent months that were centered, at least partly, in the Arctic. In the first book, the frigid cold, the darkness and isolation scared me. In Good Morning, Midnight, I found the opposite: beauty, tranquility, and life. Granted, the first book was meant to scare, and I still doubt that I would venture to the North Pole, but this example shows the vastly different stories writers can reveal using the same landscape.

There is another love apparent within these pages, one that I am also fond of. It is what lies in the heavens beyond our planet. Those night skies lined with pinpricks of light within darkness that fills the imaginations of the young as well as the old. For Augustine, it has been a lifelong study of that endless vast from the ground. Now nearing the end of that life, he spends his last days looking from the sky to the beauty of the earth under his feet that he had once so casually ignored. For Sully, it is a journey from the other end of the telescope, an astronaut returning from Jupiter in those heavens that Augustine sets his gaze upon.

It is a post-apocalyptic novel in the peripheral sense only. Mostly, it is about these two lives. Both search a past with regrets, and the present to find a connection. What sets this book apart from many is the beauty in the writing. It’s a story that is somehow both quiet and piercing.
Profile Image for Laura.
811 reviews237 followers
November 11, 2020

This may be my best read for 2017. Please, please don't be tempted to read the ending before you get there. You will have this novel figured out but the last page is one of the most powerful things I have read. This book is a journey told from two narrators. Wow, this book is amazing. It's beautiful. This gave me the same emotional feelings that I felt after reading McCarthy's, The Road. Hope and sadness, dang, I am spent.
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