Jared's Reviews > Not Dark Yet

Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen
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If you were fortunate enough to know of Vandermeer Mixtape via Storybundle, as I was, you may have been lucky enough to get your hands on Berit Ellingsen's wonderful Not Dark Yet. If not, grab it and read it right now.

Not Dark Yet is a quiet and dark and cold story, but none of these to an extent that punishes the reader. It's about love, but not necessarily romantic. About family, but not gratuitously tragic the way literary fiction can be. (Although speculative fiction may be more apt, given the exaggerated sense of environmental danger occurring around the characters). It's about the forces of nature, and climate change--its ultimate, creeping power over us, our decisions, our past and future. Science is a powerful recurring character in this book: growing crops in mild winters, environmentalists, Brandon's desire to go into space. All handled with an understated prose that's never stale and sometimes starkly beautiful.

The protagonist's name is mentioned once, in the first line, and for the rest of the story, Ellingsen only uses "he." I never confused him with other male characters, and had this sense of the story moving in one, continuous stream, despite multiple subplots.

One scene that stands out to me: Brandon dreams of being on a cruise ship as it crashes. Of that particular and familiar horror, being in a violent dream and being unable to escape it as it happens, knowing cataclysmic danger is coming but being powerless against it, and it's all so personal, felt like a wonderful metaphor for how the character felt at this point in the book.

"But no life boats were lowered, no life jackets hurled into the still water, no mayday sent out, because they were all there voluntarily, enjoying the sight of the jetstam going down and thanking the multitude gods that it wasn't them."

Ultimately, I read this as a book about ghosts, and light in the face of them. It would be easy to say it's a climate change story and leave it there, but Brandon has so much more to him than that. It's about the world we build for ourselves. The signs of danger we see decades before they become actual problems, the reasons we act as we do even when we know we shouldn't. It's a book about hope, even when a hurricane destroys the work you've done in the autumn of your life.

Not Dark Yet was the first book I read in 2016, and comes highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2016 – Started Reading
January 6, 2016 – Shelved
January 6, 2016 – Finished Reading

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