Review: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

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Dr. Cliff Miyashiro arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue his recently deceased daughter’s research, only to discover a virus, newly unearthed from melting permafrost. The plague unleashed reshapes life on earth for generations. Yet even while struggling to
Among those adjusting to this new normal are an aspiring comedian, employed by a theme park designed for terminally ill children, who falls in love with a mother trying desperately to keep her son alive; a scientist who, having failed to save his own son from the plague, gets a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects-a pig-develops human speech; a man who, after recovering from his own coma, plans a block party for his neighbours who have also woken up to find that they alone have survived their families; and a widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter who must set off on cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead, How High We Go in the Dark follows a cast of intricately linked characters spanning hundreds of years as humanity endeavours to restore the delicate balance of the world. This is a story of unshakable hope that crosses literary lines to give us a world rebuilding itself through an endless capacity for love, resilience and reinvention

It’s been a few weeks since I finished reading this book, and I’m still not quite sure how to write a review for it. I read this book while I had Covid, which I honestly wouldn’t advise as this book focuses heavily on a global illness, but it hit me even harder because of it.

This book is a collection of short stories that interconnect throughout the book and provide different perspectives on a worldwide epidemic. Short stories that discuss death, and friendship, and illness, and love – all types of love. Love between a parent and child, love between married partners, love that happened in the wrong place at the wrong time but in one way or another, succeeded, even just fleetingly.

How High We Go in the Dark made me cry, multiple times. It made me cry just 60 pages in, and again, and again, throughout the book. It managed to both capture and break my heart so many times over the course of just under 300 pages.

The writing was super slow and the sadness emanating from the pages of this book sometimes prevented me from picking it up, but it was so beautiful too. This book is in no way fast, it is a sprawling collection of stories that are interwoven in the same fragile way everything in our universe somehow is.

I loved this book in many ways I didn’t quite expect to. It was so dark and so sad, but I felt so connected to some of the perspectives and after some of the stories I was just blown away by the beautiful intricacies of it all.

4 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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