Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2017

Review: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell



Rating: 2.75/5 stars

Series: - | Published: November 2nd 2017 by Two Roads
Pages: 224 | Format: E-book
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Status: read from December 19 to December 20, 2017
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“These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button. That's why I bought her heart online.”


This short story collection is divided into twelve stories, with varying length, and varying content. Some are only a couple of pages, and other are far longer. I liked the longer ones because they managed to make me feel slightly wiser as to what was really going on in the story. I was confused a lot during this reading process. A LOT.

In the end, I found that I really had conflicted feelings about this collection. Some stories were so great, other plain boring. Some stories were completely confusing, others more easy to understand the meaning behind them. One story was written as a letter (Jacob), one in dialogue (The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night), one was way more poetic than the others (Bright White Lights). I don't really like poetry and poetic language, and therefore not a fan of that specific story.

The ones I listed as favorites, down below, are the ones I think were the most complete, the most finished pieces, if you know what I mean. They were easy to keep up with, but still had some magic in them that was quite tricky to figure out. Some of the mystery is still unknown to me... Aunt Libby's Coffin Hotel was the most logic in my opinion, it was the easiest story to predict what would happen. And Jacob too was very un-magical, in comparison to the other stories.

Of my least favorites, Animals, In the Dark and Sea Devils are the most memorable. Animals because it was disturbing (but it was very thought-provoking), In the Dark because it was super weird and random, and lastly Sea Devil because I found that it had an important message about fame and everything that lies behind it. Little Deaths, Pebbels, Human Satellites, and Bright White Lights didn't stick with me at all.

Maybe I'm really bad at reading between the lines and finding the hidden message?? I actually believe that's the case sometimes. I like logic.




Favorite stories

• Jacob (4/5): A young boy writing a letter about his sister having two souls. He asks a lot of questions, that go unanswered.
• Plum Pie, Zombie Green, Yellow Bee, Purple Monster (4/5): 50 % human -- 50 % plant. Plant-people going to "camp" to be examined by scientists. One plant-person goes missing.
Margaret and Mary and the End of the World (4/5): About Mary, and God? Eating disorders, teen pregnancy, and much more.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night (5/5): A story of two people taking in the middle of the night about a tree, and existence, and the beginning of the world. The ending is very confusing.
• Aunt Libby's Coffin Hotel (5/5): Takes place on a spooky island where people go to sleep in coffins to prepare for death, or spend the night with a loved one who is dead.

Least favorite stories

• Animals (2/5): Animal hearts used in humans to bring the love back. In a scary way. The subject rape-culture is very pronounced in the story.
In the Dark (3/5): Could've been great if it weren't so short. About a man wandering into a woman's kitchen at night to eat. He doesn't speak to the woman and seems rather alien.
Little Deaths (2/5): People breathing ghosts and scientist trying to cure said people from these ghosts.
• Pebbles (2/5): A lesbian romance about hate, love, and war.
• Sea Devils (3/5): Two friends killing crabs in the summer time. They drift apart when one of them starts chasing her dream of becoming a famous actress.
• Human Satellites (3/5): About the discovery of The Hour, a new planet. Focusing on humanity's reaction.
• Bright White Lights (2/5): A special girl working at an aquarium. Explores deformity and what's normal/abnormal in a way. With a bit of mermaid on the side.

What is it about?

Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows. A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island. A boy is worried his sister has two souls. A couple are rewriting the history of the world. And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.

Have you read this book? What did you think? :)

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