Archive Reviews

Archive Review: Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson creates a whole new world in this novel. Toussaint is the Caribbean-colonized world of Tan-Tan, a young girl whose father is in charge of the futuristic place she lives in. That is until her father commits a serious crime, and unable to leave his daughter behind takes her with him into exile. New Half-Way Tree is the terrifying place that criminals and outcasts are sent to, to live among the native inhabitants of the planet. Stuck there without the technology relied upon in Toussaint, Tan-Tan and her father must learn to make their own way in a new world separated from their home and family.


What is Midnight Robber about?

Midnight Robber is about Tan-Tan, who begins the story as a young girl who loves the tales of the Robber King–a historical/mythological figure in Toussaint’s history. As a child, her family life is unstable and leads to her being taken to New Half-Way Tree. There, her father’s instability further breaks down to the point of abuse and Tan-Tan suffers for some time before standing up for herself, leaving her “home,” and taking shelter with some of the native inhabitants of the planet: the douen. Tan-Tan goes on to embody the life of the Robber Queen in more ways than one, forging her own life finally.

Genre: Science Fiction/Coming of Age

The two major themes of this novel are that it is a futuristic, Caribbean inspired culture in possession of advanced technology and inhabiting an alien planet, and the way Tan-Tan grows up in this world.

Tropes: Full Circle Narrative

In many ways this book puts forth circular storytelling. Things become relevant again over time, cycles are apparent, and Tan-Tan’s childhood informs her adulthood in interesting and complex ways.

Plot: Ain’t no rest for the wicked

There’s definitely some sense of justice in this book. There are some truly bad characters who see justice for their actions, and some truly good characters who finally get a break sometime. There’s almost an element of a cosmic design to the way things progress, with some people earning favor and others doing the opposite.

The Good

This book was fascinating, beautiful, and heartbreaking all at once. The book is written in patois as well, which really contributes to the stories being told throughout it and the revelation of the narrator. Though there are definitely uncomfortable moments, the power of the narrative is overwhelming and the story is absolutely beautiful.

The Okay

This is usually where I include content warnings, and that’s really all I’ve got on this book other than to implore that you read it. CW for sexual assault, molestation, incest, pedophilia, rape, physical assault, harassment, abuse, and the related scenes and discussions of these events that take place following. This is a tough book to read, and you should absolutely be prepared for the intense conflicts that stem from certain relationships.

Final Thoughts

I simply cannot do this book justice in my review. This book is beautiful, terrifying, thrilling, futuristic, complex, and so well written. Tan-Tan immediately draws you in, making you wish for only the best for her and to cry with her when her life is shaped by others with less than pure motivations. Tan-Tan does what no other human in New Half-Way Tree can and resides with the douen; she is the Robber Queen and she takes back the life she deserves from the clutches of those that wish her only harm. As Tan-Tan transforms and takes her place in the world, the story also transforms and shows the justice that is lying in wait for evil.

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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