How High You Go Depends on You

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark has made the bestseller lists and received serious praise. The author reportedly started working on the book in its earliest form in 2011, however, the novel about a deadly virus revealed by climate change became more urgent with the COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantines? Yup, they’re here.

NPR said that book features “thoughtful explorations of how the survivors process death and loss through art.” The Guardian reviewer wrote that “Nagamatsu’s skill lies not only in his evocative imagining of alternative realities, but also in how he builds bridges between them.”

My own interpretation is that the book is powerful and enjoyable. However, it’s definitely light reading. There is a lot of death in these pages. It isn’t Cormac McCarthy style massacres, but it’s death. Quite a bit focused on children. I recall a well-known and respected literary agent who put in his submission guidelines that he just didn’t want to see work featuring children being harmed. How High We Go in the Dark probably isn’t for him.

But if you want to reach a timely, prescient literary science fiction novel and you’re not put off by the sensitive and intelligent treatment of death, then this might be just the book for you.

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