Sequoia Nagamatsu brings our current reality to fiction with his new novel, How High We Go in the Dark. Life on Earth is changed forever after a group of archaeologists in the artic circle re-discover an ancient virus in the mummified remains of a young girl. Nagamatsu’s ensemble of characters find themselves struggling to re-stabilize a crumbing society in the midst of a pandemic of astronomical proportions. Nagamatsu’s work holds a mirror to our current experiences as the characters face no only an deadly virus but global warming, corporate greed, and the degradation of community and interpersonal relationships.
I found How High We Go in the Dark to be almost too close to reality. I don’t typically enjoy novels that parallel this closely with current events, but How High We Go In the Dark is definitely an exception to that rule. Nagamatsu’s reference to crypto currency, global warming, infidelity, addiction , and virtual reality were an interesting addition to his novel. These additions allowed for more tension in the storyline than the virus alone, in addition to making the characters more relatable and multifaceted. These conflicts challenged relationships, pulled characters away from their reality, and allowed for creative and community oriented solutions.
Each chapter in Nagamatsu’s work was from a different character’s perspective. I thought that this was a fantastic choice, but I wish there was a stronger connection between chapters. As a reader I really had to think about how the characters were connected, which took me away from the story. Even so, How High We Go in the Dark, is a fantastic twist on the pandemic novel and is a great read for anyone who is a dystopian fan.