Cover Image: How High We Go in the Dark

How High We Go in the Dark

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Member Reviews

Genre: Sci-Fi/Literary

Format: Audio/E-book

4.75🌟 - I really really liked it!

I was so obsessed with this audio when I was listening! This essentially is a short story collection with woven interconnected characters and stories. The only reason this one wasn’t 5🌟 was because some of the stories weren’t as memorable as others for me!

That being said, these of these are the most memorable short stories I have ever read! The most memorable being a euthanasia amusement park. This is essentially about a pandemic set not too far in our future, and there is so much heart and heartache imbedded in these stories. It was giving literary Black Mirror with sci-fi backdrop.

Profound, unsettling, dark, but beautifully done.

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I struggled with this book only because of how much it hit me. I was very interested in finding the connections between all the characters and the unique way in which the story was presented. But it took me ages to finish because of how difficult it was emotionally to read at times.

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I found myself completely immersed in a lot this novel of interconnected stories about the aftermath of a post climate plague world. The writing is fantastic and imagery quite arresting at times. Full of compassion and a surprising amount of hope in its humanity, here and there. But as I often feel, as some stories spoke to more than others, the success overall is often tainted by the stories I DON’T connect with. But worth reading for the second story (City of laughter) alone. Ambitious and challenging.

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Absolutely fantastic book. Flawless writing and riveting characters. Creative in ways I didn’t know I wanted. Feminist Book Club recommended it on our podcast and tiktok.

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I was immediately hooked reading this book — collection of stories? Some sections I could not put down — and others I was lost from the first paragraph. Still, I overall recommend it if you like Black Mirror and science fiction. The author did an amazing job world building — and had to build several worlds, too. Ultimately, I put off reading this one but I am so glad I eventually picked it up! 3.5 stars

Absolutely loved the full cast of audio narrators oh my gosh! Julia Whelan reading the last section was *chef's kiss*

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Beginning with scientists finding the body of a young girl who seems to share attributes with both Homo sapien and Neanderthal as well as genetic traits that are like a starfish or octopus. And worst of all, when she is brought to the surface, she unleashes a deadly virus. From there the book veers to an amusement park where children get one last day of fun before the virus kills them. Nagamatsu has a variety of characters, which voiced well in the audio version, but the story doesn’t go smoothy as the characters try to remember the past which is quickly disappearing and try to determine what their future will be. I found the book very depressing and while I made it to the end, where the book circles back to the beginning, but it’s not my kind of book.

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This was so well written! I was completely engaged from page one!! Now I’m not the biggest fan of anthologies bc it’s jarring to me to be picked up and placed in another story every chapter, HOWEVER being that each of these chapters had characters that interconnected and were all revolving around the fallout of the same plague, it was so well done!! I do think if I had been able to follow just a few characters stories I would’ve given 5 stars, because some of the POVs I found taxing in comparison to other stand out ones. But overall SUCH a good book. Definitely recommend picking this one up!!

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I'm wary of reading books about a global pandemic while still living through one, but this book was worth it. Told through a series of loosely connected vignettes, we get glimpses of how humanity copes with catastrophic loss of life from a virus as well as a planet ravaged by climate change. The first few sections were especially emotionally wrenching, but as the story progresses to far off in the future it is easier to detach and just enjoy the beautiful writing. I know I'll be thinking about this book for years to come and plan to recommend to it anyone who likes literary and speculative fiction.

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I want to preface this review with the fact that this is not my normal read. Its a book about death and grief and yet, there's hope interlaced. It's a deep and thoughtful book.

The book opens in Siberia with the discovery of a young girl frozen in the ice. An artic plague is unleashed in the thawing permafrost. How High We Go in the dark is a selection of stories that follows the virus and its aftermath. It's a warning of global warning, pandemics and the promise of human strength when faced with a terrible situation.

This is a narrative driven by deeply human stories centred around love, the painful experience of letting go, the ways we memorialise each other and our ability to persist through challenging circumstances. I connected with some characters more than others. I loved the changing perspectives as the book moves into the future.

The individual stories are distinct varying from a theme park for terminally ill children, a pig grown for organ transplants that develops an ability to talk, a mechanic that no longer has the parts to repair families' beloved mechanical dogs, and more. I enjoyed how Nagamatsu concludes the book by circling back to the beginning in a surprising way.

How High We Go in the Dark is a book that will leave you thinking for days. There's a whole world of discovery within the pages. Perhaps it hits home stronger with our most recent pandemic, but what comes through strongly, for me, is the strength, sense of hope and tenacity of the human spirit.

Thank you NetGalley and Harper Audio for this thought provoking ARC.

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This brilliant novel tells the story of what happens to humanity when warming climate frees a long-frozen Siberian virus that proceeds to ravage the world.

Check that; “How High We Go in the Dark” tells what happens to individual humans. That’s what makes this tale — reminiscent of the story of COVID but also strikingly different — so compelling.

There’s the scientist who discovers the long-frozen corpse that harbors the virus and her father, who comes seeking answers when she dies. There’s a young man infatuated with the mother of a dying child who has brought her son to an amusement park designed to entertain — and then euthanize — its young guests. And many others, over a period of centuries, as the story turns fantastical but not unbelievable.

Nagamatsu has crafted this debut novel as a series of loosely connected, sharply observed first-person short stories. They’re read here by 14 talented narrators, each of whom finds the voices of their characters to create an eminently listenable whole.

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In a world that is constantly changing and facing many of the challenges found in this near (to far) future novel, it was awe inspiring to see what one author envisioned as a way forward and through a pandemic, climate change, and incredible world building in a unique and profound way.

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Science fiction/dystopia
An Arctic plague is unleashed and has devastating consequences for the entire world. The book is broken up in to 17 chapters each with a glimpse of life before, during, and after the plague. Very imaginative and heartbreaking.

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A great read for many patrons. I’ve been asked about any new dystopian novels and I’ll be happy to recommend this one!

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Breath taking absolutely breath taking is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this book. Everything about this book was beautiful from the time line to the stories told to the way everything wraps up in the end. I could not stop listening to this because I just had to know what the next story would bring me. I cried more from this book than any I have reading in a long time. This was truly moving. I finished this book and just wanted to go back and start it all over again. I can not wait to see and hear other people gush over this absolutely phenomenal book.

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WOW! This might be the bleakest book I have ever read. I knew going into this that it was a pandemic/climate crisis book and so I didn't expect it to be happy but I was not fully prepared for just how rough it was.
How High We Go in the Dark is a series of vignettes, told by characters that are all loosely connected to one or more of the former perspectives, chronicling a near future where 50 million people have died in several waves of virus-related pandemic, also splicing in the effects of climate change into the storylines here and there. We begin with a father and research scientist sent to Siberia to pick up where his daughter left-off after her untimely death, discovering an ancient human site buried deep in the ground, leaving behind art and artifacts and each story is linked to the world events set off from that point. The last story brings us back to that beginning scene, which was definitely an interesting way of closing the circle on such a loose and broad storyline. It definitely did not seem like it would have an ending, but it somehow managed to, and I found the first and last stories to be the most satisfying, followed closely by the second story. Some of the middle stories felt lost in a sea of sameness, which might be expected of a collection of this sort.

I was fortunate enough to listen to this on audio and I am glad I did because I don't know if I would have finished had I been reading it on paper. It took me a couple of months to get through it because sometimes I had to put it down to give myself some space emotionally. I would definitely not recommend it in the midst of the pandemic to anyone who is not prepared from something unrelentingly dark. I find myself torn between feeling that this is too much too soon and wondering if it would have had the same impact if it hadn't been published in the midst of this current pandemic. Ultimately, I think it works but it will definitely not appeal to a host of people who are not ready to read something so close to home. The choice to have a full cast recording really helped since each story was told from a new perspective. I think it would have been confusing if it had been one or two voice actors trying to represent all the different characters.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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How High We Go in the Dark is one of the most thought-provoking science fiction stories I've ever read. Each chapter is focused on a different person after a pandemic ravages the human population. This book covers the fallout, the grief of losing so many loved ones, the commodification of that grief, how people move on, and much more I won't mention due to spoilers.

The book is literary but still exciting and emotional. Each story builds on the previous one, and several characters reappear unexpectedly. I think I'd have to read this book more than once to fully grasp everything.

The audiobook is beautifully done with a large cast giving each story a specific voice. I expected to like this book, but I ended up loving it. The audio version had a lot to do with that.

I recommend this book for readers who enjoy speculative fiction, pandemic stories, climate fiction, stories that span long periods of time, and those who want a unique take on grief.

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I had the pleasure to listen to the audiobook edition of How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. Picking up a book about a global pandemic during a global pandemic worried me at first, but amidst the bleakness this book is full of hope.

It would be impossible to unpack everything in a single review, as Nagamatsu explores so many themes, issues, imagery, and symbols, but there are several points I'd like to highlight. One cannot talk about this book without discussing death, and the rituals surrounding death, which plays a central role in the stories. Death takes a bigger space than life, to the point where peoples lives happen around it. Funeral homes take over the banking system, cemetery skyscrapers take over neighbourhoods, death hotels and euthanasia amusement parks abound. The death industry is the new driver of economy and social status. The frequent descriptions of peoples' modest, and at times dilapidated, living quarters juxtaposed with the lavish resting places of the dead further drives this point home.

However, the book is also about community, and how communities have the power to take us higher and further than we ever could or would on our own. Furthermore, the communities in the stories are precipitated together by the Arctic plague (neighbourhood walking group, spaceship crew, souls in the dark, Siberian team of scientists, metaverse connections, post-pandemic letter to neighbours, etc.) Our interconnectedness is central to the human experience. Several characters appear in other stories or we discover that they are connected through familial ties. Interconnectedness also manifests through the characters' common tragedies, goals, and hopes for the future.

I also appreciated the way Nagamatsu was able to balance science and art, and how they come together to make humanity better.

Ambitious, intimate, and hopeful, I will be thinking of How High We Go in the Dark for a looong time to come. It gave me Black Mirror and 2001: A Space Odyssey vibes. This needs to be picked up for a limited series!

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This book was deeply haunting and everything I had wanted Station Eleven to be and more. The narrators were phenomenal.

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The audio was amazing. The story had amazing flow. This is a hidden gem for 2022. The author had a poetic way of story telling.

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After reading Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go In The Dark, I will never look at death the same! This sci-fi book is like sci-fi with a heart and soul. Each chapter is a different story of a character and how their life is affected at that point in time by climate change. It starts in 2030 when Dr. Cliff (an archeologist) is grieving the loss of his daughter Clara. He decides to go to the Arctic Circle where Batagaika Crater’s melting ice has exposed a body. The frozen little girl is named Annie and is part Homosapien and Neanderthal while also possessing DNA like a starfish or octopus. Then we fast forward to Skip working at the City of Laughter where terminally ill children have a day of fun ending with a roller coaster to their death. Chapters then move on to a living human pyramid seeing if they can reach the top of the hole they are in hence the title “How High We Go In The Dark”. My favorite chapter was about the heartbroken scientist, David, growing organs for children and forms a relationship with a pig. The pig “Snotorious P.I.G.” Was one of my favorite characters. The Chapters then move on with new characters being related or connected to other characters. In Songs of Your Decay, we watch Laird die and decay. It was grotesque yet I couldn’t help reading further. A lot of the stories are an ode to Japan and Japanese culture which made them even more intriguing. Then the chapter, The Scope of Possibility, blew my mind. It ties all the stories together including the story of the frozen girl, Annie. This is one of those books you want to read parts a second time to see more connections. This book is a work of futuristic art. It shows that Nagamatsu worked on the stories for over ten years.

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