How High We Go in the Dark

A Novel

Hardcover, 304 pages

English language

Published Jan. 18, 2022 by William Morrow.

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4 stars (9 reviews)

Beginning 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 …

5 editions

How High We Go in the Dark

5 stars

I read this for the #SFFBookClub January book pick. How High We Go in the Dark is a collection of interconnected short stories dealing with death, grief, and remembrance in the face of overwhelming death and a pandemic. Despite getting very dark, I was surprised at the amount of hopefulness to be found in the face of all of this.

It was interesting to me that this collection had been started much earlier and the Arctic plague was a later detail to tie everything together. Personally, I feel really appreciative of authors exploring their own pandemic-related feelings like this; they're certainly not often comfortable feelings, but it certainly helps me personally, much more than the avoidance and blinders song and dance that feels on repeat everywhere else in my life.

It's hard for me to evaluate this book as a whole. I deeply enjoyed the structural setup, and seeing background …

How High We Go in the Dark

4 stars

A series of bleak, gritty glimpses of what's in store for us over the next few decades.

The tone is lightened a bit here and there with injections of optimism, but I think it works against itself a little when the optimism feels unwarranted.

The way that the characters from the different stories are linked reminds me a bit of Cloud Atlas (although I only saw the movie (sorry)).


Review of 'How High We Go in the Dark' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Sequoia Nagamatsu's (@SequoiaN) How High We Go in the Dark is a dark, haunting, and insightful pandemic novel of short stories that rotate the protagonist role through an ensemble of characters. Each short story is a beautiful piece of literary speculative fiction that helps the reader to digest the grief and horror of the pandemic and find something to build hope upon.

When I reached the story about the euthanasia theme park for terminally-ill children, I was ready to put it down, but some of his metaphors started to land and drove me through the rest of the book.

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3 stars
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2 stars
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4 stars


  • Fiction
  • Dystopian