REVIEW: How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Image from Harper Collins

I’m not sure I can give this book enough praise. It’s nothing like anything else I’d read in 2021, and if it’s being compared to other post-pandemic novels of the apocalyptic variety, it’s because readers are weary of the dreaded. derivative COVID-diaries. This incredibly prolific collection of short stories is anything but derivative. It’ll take up space in my mind forever and remains firmly lodged into my top ten.

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet. 

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

-taken from Harper Collins Publishers

A collection of short stories within the same world, featuring interconnected characters, sometimes thousands of years apart —these touching, riveting sci-fi stories of normal people overcoming peril, brings out the best of what humanity has to offer and puts it on display with pinpoint precision and stunning beauty.

I listened to the audiobook as I did dishes, tidied up the kitchen, divided the laundry into lights and darks. I can still see the repetitive motions my hands made as I conducted small labors of love while listening to the stories of unfathomable loss, admirable strength, epic feats of human compassion, through an apocalyptic disease that seemed exaggerated and yet horribly real. I felt it all so deeply as I listened that I lost track of time, and my house was so clean.

Thanks and recognition to NetGalley for the prepublication. This novel releases on January 18, 2022.

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