The Measure

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Pub Date 5 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 20 May 2023

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Your fate arrives in a box on your doorstep. Do you open it?

It seems like just another morning.

You make a cup of tea. Check the news. Open the front door.

On your doorstep is a box.

Inside the box is the exact number of years you have left to live.

The same box appears on every doorstep across the world.

Do you open yours?



Your fate arrives in a box on your doorstep. Do you open it?

It seems like just another morning.

You make a cup of tea. Check the news. Open the front door.

On your doorstep is a box.

Inside the...

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ISBN 9780008491536
PRICE £5.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 251 members

Featured Reviews

OHMYGOODNESS.WOW. This is absolutely incredible storytelling. So thought provoking, and how the characters deal with this and society in so many ways is fascinating. Absorbed this in one sitting and could not sit still. A fantastic group of characters who delight, are admirable, sometimes scared but mostly have warm hearts. Told from quite a few different viewpoints but not too many. Emotional, powerful, moving.

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WOW just WOW i can't even with this book, where do I begin? This is such an interesting premise that really makes the reader think and question things, would they open the box or not, it is something I have often wondered - whether I would like to know when I was going to die, but then faced with that decision I am not sufre whether I actually would or not. It is an emotive and heartfelt read that i couldnt put down, I was gripped straight away. A really enjoyable book that I will read over and over.

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When I started reading this novel, I thought this was strictly dystopian, for the concept of knowing your fate was truly highly extraordinary. But this book was so much more than that! It touched down on issues of love and morality in the best possible way. A great read!

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When I seen this book advertised on Twitter for request on NetGalley I KNEW I just had to read it… BUT nothing could have prepared me for what I lay inside.

The Measure Is one hell of an emotional rollercoaster… it had me on the edge of my seat, happy, sad and by the end in tears. This story was exhilarating and a CRACKING start on the author journey for Erlick – this is definitely right up there with one of the BEST debut novels I have ever read.

Each character in this story is so life-like you instantly connect with them, you live their life with them hoping and praying that more can be done that they can be helped – you love them like a friend or a sibling someone you don’t want to loose…

Yet the rest of the world turns crazy – but the question really is does it matter how long you have left. It has always been decided for us has it not?

BUT – what would you do? Would you look inside your box and find out the answers to your life’s length or would you live on with no regrets?

I would definitely take a read and request this book OR wait for the pre-order link and buy it!! This is going to be one HOT BOOK for 2022!!

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"The measure of your life lies within"

On a morning just like any other, a small wooden box appears on the doorstep of every household on the planet - from mansions to maisonettes, shacks to tents, every adult has one. Inside, just a name and a piece of string that will tell you how long you have left to live.

In that moment, the whole world is changed. Dreams suddenly seem impossible, people taking things slowly are realising they've run out of time, people's faith is failing and society as we know it is collapsing. The 'short-stringers' and 'long-stringers' are divide and the young wait for the boxes to arrive.

Would you open the box if you could? And what would do once you did?

"When we think about the greatest love stories ever written, we aren't judging them by their length."

The Measure is truly a one-of-a-kind read. I'd tell you the usual 'read this if you're fans of this other book' but this definitely is something unique.

Told from multiple point of views, each one intertwining and weaving together inexplicitly in a tapestry of lives. There's reporter Nina and her girlfriend Maura who have suddenly realised till death to us part is coming sooner than alter, Amie who's read enough fantasy to know never to open a magic box, Hank who can't cope with the patients expecting him to cure them from a short string, Jack and Javier who are just trying to survive military school without dealing with the new restrictions on short-stringers - and many more characters, each bringing their own dynamic and unique outlook on the unfolding crisis. Despite having such a large and vibrant cast, the story remained easy to follow and completely engrossing.

Fully immersive, thoughtful and clever, The Measure was a stunning exploration into the human condition, into the fragility and the strength of humanity - heartbreaking and joyous all at once. Erlick also absolutely nailed the inclusivity and representation all the way through, showing how the mystery boxes not only affected society as a whole, but women, people of colour and members of the LGBT+ community.

A stunning, electrifying debut - enthralling, mysterious and thought-provoking. This book will make you think about life differently every time you turn a page.

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Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this arc. Themes such as life and death intrigue me, especially the search for what gives our life meaning. The Measure has an unique hook and looks at these questions without once comprising on characters and plot.
One day the whole world wakes up and finds boxes on their doorsteps, with a measure of how long they have left. People with long strings will have a long life. Those with short strings have a certain numbers of years.

The books follows about eight characters, some of whom are related, and you see the world unfolding through their eyes. It might seem like a lot of characters, but you they go in and out of each other’s lives, and it really is not as confusing as it seems.

At the start of the novel people think the boxes is an elaborate hoax, some think a return to the old ages when Gods would come down. It doesn’t take for the whole situation to become political and socially dangerous as those with short strings are fired from jobs due to the fact that they’ll die soon, and they’re being dumped by their partners cause it’s easier than being with them. But more than that it’s about people, and how we connect with each other, and how we love. In the end it shouldn’t matter how long your string is. Truly a wonderful read!!!!! I loved it. 🤗👍👍

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When I first read the premise of The Measure I knew I had to read it. What a unique, thrilling and captivating idea. I had to know what it was all about. And it didn't disappoint.

Right from the beginning. I was obsessed with deciding if I would open my box or not. Would I want to know so that I could plan my last years well - give up work and do as I like - or would it make my last years absolute hell - scared to lose a minute of the time I had left on earth?

What about my children who being adults would have theirs? Could I deal with the agony if they didn't have a long string and would die before me? Or would it be worse to keep the boxes closed? To not have said that last "I love you" and made the best of our time before the day death claimed them.

These decisions and more are all faced by the characters throughout the book. This is what makes it so mesmerising. You are immersed in their journeys because you are seeing yourself in them. Your emotions are fully engaged with their plights. And if at times if they are hesitant, unsure of what to do well you get that too.

Some of those journeys are beautiful but others are heart breaking. Each story bringing a new outlook and view on the crisis the world has found itself in. But of course there are those that use the presence of the boxes for personal gain just as they would when they see any advantage in the modern world. And there are others who show their true morals when faced with something different from themselves.

The writing itself is accomplished and nuanced, the plotting is excellent and unravels gently across the pages. The themes of death and grief are sensitively and beautifully captured. But what makes it magical for me is the connection you feel with each character. The short stringers pain burned within me as if it was my own. However, I was also distressed for the long stringers - what guilt one would feel. An intelligent and thought provoking exploration into what it means to be human and how we measure the substance of life.

As the truth about fate and choice is revealed long held beliefs are dissolved which leads to dramatic changes in friendships, families and communities. But for me the narrative transcends its philosophical themes. The Measure is an ode to love. A gorgeous and enduring love story to life, no matter the length of you and your loved one's string.

I wish I could discuss The Measure more but to do so would give too many spoilers and ruin the book.

Highly Recommended.

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Wow… this is such a powerful, thought provoking and utterly heartbreaking novel. It’s about big decisions, and small, many hurts, fears and anger and hatred. But it’s also more than that it’s how some people through love and the ability to care can make a difference to people lives and of course their deaths. What would you do if you found a box that had a length of string, be it either short, middle or long? How would you feel if that piece of string decided how long you have left to live? Would you rail, weep or succumb to panic? For me the answer is always we just don’t know I could be all those things but I would hope to never open it and just live how I would normally live. This is a fantastic book and one that I know will be huge. I am determined to buy this.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for this Advanced Review Copy.

The title and premise of this story caught my attention completely. I am so thrilled to have received an ARC of this book. Absolute dynamite that addresses so many social and cultural issues that plague our modern world. At first, I feared this was going to be a retelling of the 2019 movie "Countdown" but was soon disabused of that notion.

"It was difficult to imagine a time before them, a world in which they hadn't come."

From this opening line, we meet one character after another faced with whether or not to open the mysterious and indestructible box that arrives on each and every person's doorstep around the globe. Even those who don't have doorsteps, such as the homeless or nomads who live in tents, receive their own box. Everyone, that is, aged 22 and over. The boxes bear the legend, "The measure of your life lies within" and contain a string of a certain length, which tells you how long you have left to live.

The changes that come rock the world. This is a shocking read because it is all too believable. The book contains so many great lines that I struggled to choose only a few to highlight in this review. Here goes ...

"When your sample size is the entire world, you're bound to find anecdotes that support any theory."

And ...

"Ben tried to maintain eye contact with the floor."

And ...

"Did a patient receive less care because her string was short, or was a patient's string short because she received less care?" ... A wonderful take on the classic chicken-and-egg question. Although the author undid this achievement in the very next sentence by then telling us it's "a wonderful chicken-and-egg question". Argh.

One character I found incredibly naive. Amie, a woman in her twenties, who teaches 10-year-olds at a private school. This character brings us nonsense such as: "Amie smiled at the thought of her parents, still active in their late fifties" ... erm, I should think so!!!!

Also, in the same vein: "... Still working full-time and filling their weekends ..." they're in their 50s for heaven's sakes! Amie is only a couple of decades or so younger. I might expect this kind of mistaken ageism from a kid or a teen but not from someone in their mid-to-late twenties. Obviously, this character is blissfully unaware of retirement ages despite being employed herself.

Okay, mini rant over with. That was the only place in the book that pulled me up short and had me asking, WTF??? The rest of the read was brilliant. One final quote I loved: "Even if we can't affect someone's longevity, at least we can still impact their quality of life."

This read gets 4.5 stars from me, rounded up to five for rating purposes. I connected with all the characters and found the plot entirely believable and plausible. I finished this read in two sittings, and some of the questions it raises will stick with me for a while.


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

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The Measure is based on such an interesting concept, that I took the question with me long after I finished reading the book - if the exact length of your life were contained in a box before you, would you look? And how would you deal with that decision, whatever it was? I really appreciated how Erlick explored all the different combinations of decisions, emotions and global reactions. The writing was compelling and easy to follow, even with the multiple narratives.

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This is the 182nd book I have read in 2021 and I can comfortably say it is the best. I don't even know where to begin in my review.

In this novel, all adults aged 22 and over awake to find a box outside their homes. The boxes differ in only two ways, the name of the recipient and the length of string inside the box -the length of string being indicative of how long the recipient will live.

We follow a number of characters throughout this story as they grapple with the decision as to whether to open the box or not. Would you want the relief of knowing you will live a long life or would you be unable to cope with the heartbreak of uncovering a short string? These are the dilemmas which our characters face and they all make their own choices.

Erlick deals not only with the personal choices of the main characters as they struggle with this momentous decision but also the impact on society. We see "short-stringers" pitted against "long-stringers" with the former facing harassment and discrimination in many aspects of their normal daily lives.

The novel is told from multiple perspectives and the characters interweave with each other. Often times, with multiple character perspectives, a novel can become confusing however the characters here are so real you will have no trouble keeping everyone straight.

Of course, I will not ruin any aspects of their stories however be prepared to laugh, cheer, empathise and cry as you follow these ordinary yet remarkable people dealing with knowing (or not knowing) their eventual fate.

As I have said above, I read a LOT of books. Like most of you, I read them, I enjoy them but if you were to ask me about them six months later, I would likely struggle to recall the details of it. Books like The Measure come along rarely....a book which will linger with me over the coming days, weeks, months and probably years. A book that changes your thoughts on life and makes you question how you are living, whether you are making the most of the time you may have left or wasting it away.

This will be a certain hit when released and I would not be surprised to see a Hollywood film or Netflix series follow. A must read and a great novel for any book clubs out there.

Thank you so much to the author, Netgalley and HarperCollins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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How long is a piece of string? In the Measure's case, the longer the better! This book has such an imaginative concept, across the world people wake up one morning to find a box on their doorstep. Inside the box is a piece of string that measures the exact number of years you have left to live. Would you open it? I’m not sure I would be brave enough. What if my string was short? Would it change my outlook on life? Would I give up my job? Travel the world? Or take risks I wouldn’t have dreamt of? This book raises so many questions that beg the reader to ponder what they would do faced with a similar situation.

The Measure is told from a multiple points of views; the characters are an eclectic bunch, each of their stories intertwine perfectly. Each character’s length of string leads to dramatic changes. Relationships are fractured, whilst others are built, love grows, love is lost, each character brings a unique outlook to the story. Nikki Erlick has captured the characters’ every emotion perfectly. You feel their pain, fear, confusion, and guilt, living their story alongside each and everyone of them.

This isn’t just a book about relationships, the author explores themes of mortality, loss, prejudice, exclusion, and fate, it’s these themes that move the plot forward. This never felt like a depressing read, as woven into the pages were hope, human resilience, love, and the importance of not taking life for granted. I found The Measure such an extraordinary book to read, beautifully written, emotional, heartwarming and thought provoking in equal measures (no pun intended). I think this book will be a HUGE hit on its release in 2022, and would make the perfect book club read as there’s much to discuss. Highly recommend.

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This is one of those books I just had to read when I first saw the blurb. I had high expectations, and for the most part they were totally met.

Beautiful characters, fantastic writing, a real mixture of heartbreak and hope lies between these pages. There are some mesmerising characters and there is a real strength in its believability.

For me, there were times the novel veered too much toward the political - whilst this added to the realism it wasn’t what I craved - it was the characters themselves, and whilst this was a loss for me it will not necessarily be for everyone else.

A fantastic book which is likely to stir some real conversation in the coming year.

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This is the book that has got all of my friends talking about life and the mysteries of death and none of them have even read the first page yet. If you could know how long you had to live, would it change the way you live your life?
Would you open it? If you knew for certain that it was real and the length of string inside the box directly correlated to your lifespan, would you want to know? I have wrestled with this question for weeks, changing my mind back and forth every other chapter or so, with each character having a good point and clear reasons for their choices. In the end, after many long conversations well into the night, I finally decided that I would open it. I’d pretend otherwise and agonise over the pros and cons but knowing that the box was right in front of me, almost mocking me, I’d have to look.

The majority of the characters do look, which knowing humanity in general and our habits, doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, I think it’s perfectly normal to want to look. Erlick captures the nuances of those who look and those who didn’t just perfectly, to write so authentically about something that hasn’t and won’t ever happen is a genuine talent.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story itself but I want to bring to light some of the themes that run through the entire piece. A story about mysterious lifespan revealing boxes turns out to be so much more, it really looks deep into the fabric of society and how collective experience of intense events really changes the way people act and interact.

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One day a box arrives outside the doorstep of every adult aged 22 and over, not just in one country, but all over the world. No one knows where they came from, who delivered them but the decision rests about whether to open the box and reveal how long you have left to live or not. The premise of the book is superb and such a moral dilemma for us all. Would you really want to know how long you had left to live or to go about your daily life in ignorant bliss? The book follows what happens in the lives of some who decide to open their boxes and the impact on their lives and on the lives of those around them. This really makes you consider this dilemma for yourself and is a stunning debut novel.

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What would you do if you know how long you have left you had to live and how would you spend it? That’s what the questions arise when you read The Measure by Nikki Erlick.
When one day small, wooded boxes arrive on every doorstop around the world for each person with the inscription “The measure of your life lies within”. Each box contains a string with the name of the person which measures the length of the life you have left. When this happened, the whole world goes crazy and wonders at first if this is a prank. But they soon realise the seriousness of the boxes.
People with the short strings, think they have a bad deal in life and try their best to make most of what time they have left and want to make their mark in the world. Others choose to end it. The long stringers don’t know how lucky the are and seem to resent the short stringers and the trust is lost between them. This is also about discrimination and equality.
Thank you, Harper Collins UK Fiction for a copy of The Measure. This is an amazing book about the meaning of life. I can’t imagine what I would do if I knew how long I had left to live. This is one of them books that will make you think about things more important to you. It will be one of them books that people will be talking about for a very long time. I really enjoyed this not only for the detail, but it made me think a little differently. It has a unique storyline and thought it is apt for this period that we have been living for the last 18 months, 5 stars from me.

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I had absolutely no idea what direction or even what theme this book would take on but wow, I am in awe of this book. I'll be the first to admit that as far as action goes, it's fairly limited but that's ok because it is so much more than that. I was fascinated by the concept from the outset but I was unprepared how deeply and emotionally I would become invested in the plot and the lives of the characters. The author writes beautifully, managing to successfully take on various different characters and tell their stories while interweaving them flawlessly. I loved that there were so many characters to both care and root for, with the 'villain' being in the minority, something that seems to be rare with books nowadays. Covering a wealth and depth of many topics, I would encourage everyone to pick up this thought provoking read that is bound to leave a lasting impression.

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This books is something we all need in our lives. Through the lives of multiple narrators, we follow as the story unfolds right after every person in the world receives a box with a string inside that measures the length of their life. Reading the experiences of the narrators teaches us how to be empathetic to all people, not matter who they are. It also brings back a lot of our own experiences of the past two years and living through a world-wide pandemic. I highly recommend this book, as everyone has something to gain by reading it.

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OH MY DAYS!!!!!!!
What a book!!!!!!!
This book is so well written and thought provoking.
All the over 22's in the world receive a box on their doorstep......what happens next is simply one of the best written books I've ever read.
Their world changes do they deal with it?
Brilliant to the very end.

This will be the book of 2022!!!

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This is an amazing book about the meaning of life. I can’t imagine what I would do if I knew how long I had left to live. This is one of them books that will make you think about things more important to you. It will be one of them books that people will be talking about for a very long time. I really enjoyed this not only for the detail, but it made me think a little differently. It has a unique storyline and thought it is apt for this period that we have been living for the last 18 months, 5 stars from me.

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The idea for this story caught my attention, and I have to say I was not disappointed! It poses a really interesting question and I think tackles it well from a range of different viewpoints. There are not so many that the story loses focus or you forget who is who, but enough that you get to consider a variety of angles which helps give the overall story greater depth.
What would you do if you looked, or if you didn't? How would you react if you had a long string - or a short one? I thoroughly enjoyed how these dilemmas and how these and the others the characters faced were tackled. I found I devoured the book quickly as the story was always on my mind and I could not wait to finish!

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Wow - what a rollercoaster of a read!!!

I absolutely loved The Measure and it’s a book that will stay with me for some time to come. It is highly original and very thought-provoking - raising moral and ethical dilemmas. It has spawned a lot of conversations between me and my friends and family when I’ve given them the hypothetical question and basis of the book - On your doorstep is a box. Inside the box is the exact number of years you have left to live. Do you open it or not?

The story’s characters are weaved together beautifully like the threads in said strings.

Huge thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, The Borough Press, and NetGalley for making the ARC available to me.

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A totally captivating concept, The Measure is a breath-taking debut asking an impossible question, would you choose to find out the length of your life? I read this book originally on submission and I was fascinated. This is one of those books that will hook you from page one. Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and at times, unbearably tense, this is ideal for fans of Emily St. John Mandel and Christina Sweeney-Baird.

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What if you knew how long you had to live?
This will be a book that will spark the imagination and will spread through word of mouth and could well be one of the most talked about books of 2022.
It is thought provoking, intriguing and allegoric - though that is no where near enough to describe this book.
The concept on first read is simple but once you start to get into the story it raises many questions and parallels to so many areas of life. It will raise questions and make you think about what is important.
To say much will give the areas away and this is such an incredible book every reader should discover them and get their own thoughts from the reading of it. The characters are well drawn out and drag you into their stories each of which are different.
I really can not recommend this book highly enough it is such a great work of fiction and one that I will think about for many years to come.

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I was desperate to get started on this novel as soon as I read the premise. Such a unique concept, and one that gave me lots of thought as to what I would do in that position. I enjoyed the characters stories woven in and the ending was completely unexpected. Definitely one to watch in 2022.

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Gosh, wha an intriguing and very original story line. The author has thought very logically about the impact of everyone in the world receiving a box with an insight into how long they have to live. I couldn’t even begin to think of all the offshoots from this worldwide phenomenon on social media and the impact on everyone’s lives. How has Nikki come up with this amazing theme, it’s absolutely pure genius? This book deserves every one of five stars.

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Wow ! I haven't cried so much at a book in a long time. 😭 brilliantly written I loved how all the different characters lives crossed over each other and that ending 😳 I was so invested in the story I didn't see that coming at all.

Thank you to Netgalley. HapercollinsUk and Nikki Erlick for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest Review.

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5 stars. -- Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Firstly, I have to say, it helps that I have picked up this book at the right time to get the most out of it—I’m aimless and I feel like I’m not <i>living</i>—and this was a good kick up the arse.

I think it's interesting to consider how others will connect with this book depending on their relationship with life and death. It really does do its best to tackle varying responses to the boxes, across a wide range of beliefs and personality types, but it can’t tackle them all; I did, however, see myself in a fair few of them.

I genuinely think the author has done a fantastic job exploring the complications that the boxes present—emotionally, interpersonally and on an international scale. The immediate societal decline into discrimination and the manipulation of fear for political gain was of course upsetting, but very clever and entirely believable. (Unfortunately.)

So therefore... are some of the storylines predictable? Yes. But I think that’s because it’s so realistic, honestly. The things that I guessed before they happened, I guessed them because I was like “ah yes. This is what humanity would do.” And I didn’t mind that, because I enjoyed (I honestly don’t know if this is the right word, given the actual content) reading the fallout.

It was also very interesting seeing how reaction differ across countries (mostly this focuses on America). Italy was most notable for me, barely reacting at all… their culture already so full of art and family and food and passion; already so full of things that make life worth living! Rather than just the grind: work work success money.

I’d say that this book is a character exploration of the aftermath of an event, first and foremost--rather than action. And although there is a very clear end ( I think), as you get closer you start having to fill in narrative jumps, which could make it seem rushed. This almost knocked it down a star for me in all honesty, but the fact that it made me <I>feel</I> so intensely saved it. Damn I’ve shed so many tears over this thing--I couldn't even read it on public transport for fear of snotting all over the person next to me.

Still, the message is really clear: what will you do with the measure of time you have left?

And of course, as the book’s tagline suggests, the biggest question in the back of my mind while reading was consistently… would I look? Would I open my box. And (surprisingly?) after finishing, I think I know my answer.

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I loved this book even though it made me have some uncomfortable moments thinking about life, death and everything in between. This is one of those books you talk about with friends and colleagues. I usually read as escapism however this book had me thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading it. The idea of knowing how long you have to live was both comforting and awkward. Do yourself a favour and read this book!

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Brilliant Black Mirror-esque concept.
One night, mysterious boxes appear outside people’s houses. Inside is only a piece of string and the note “this box contains the measure of your life”.
Panic sweeps the world, as these boxes have been delivered everywhere. People believe that the length of the string determines the length of your life. In fact, “short stringers” start to die young.
Some people refuse to believe in the idea. Some refuse to open their boxes, some going as far to throw them away.
Scientists start to study the correlation between length of string and existing pathologies. They study the boxes and the strings themselves, trying to determine an origin for the unknown materials. Where did they come from? And the biggest question- WHY?

Amazing psychological dystopian fiction.
Would you open the box if you got one?
I don’t know if I would!

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me listen to an advance copy of this audiobook in exchange for my feedback.

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