Nikki Erlick is a writer and editor whose work has appeared on the websites of New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Indagare Travel, BookTrib, and Verge Media. As a travel writer, she explored nearly a dozen countries on assignment—from rural villages in France to the arctic fjords of Norway. As a ghostwriter, she has lent her voice to CEOs, academics, and entrepreneurs. She graduated Harvard University summa cum laude and is a former editor of the Harvard Crimson. She earned a master’s degree in global thought from Columbia University. The Measure is her first novel.
Stories about glimpsing the future have always sucked me in. And The Measure is no different.
One day, a little wooden box arrives for each person on the planet, no matter where they are. Inside is their name and a piece of string. It soon becomes clear that the length of the string stands for the length of their life. How will society cope with such knowledge? Will it ultimately strengthen bonds or break them apart?
First of all, what a premise! I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever thought to myself, I wonder how long I'll live. Well, this story takes that idea, expands it into a thought experiment, and just runs with it. And the result is absolutely fascinating, if not wholly unexpected.
Where this story really shines is its focus on the characters. Even though this is speculative fiction, once the premise is established, this feels more character-driven than anything else. We have a large ensemble cast, and we slowly get to know them and watch them grow, even as their lives intertwine and touch each other.
This story is clearly an allegory, meant to teach a lesson about what happens when humanity finds yet another way to divide itself. And the author is definitely passionate about her views, imbuing meaning into every thought and interaction between the characters. Unfortunately, it does come across heavy-handed and soppy at times, with everything so clearly spelled out for the reader again and again.
The other issue I have is that by the time you reach the halfway point, it's pretty clear what's going to happen for the rest of the book. You can see how each storyline will play out, who will learn their lessons and who won't, and even how each character's life will end. All the subsequent conversations and thoughts really just spell out in long form what is already obvious, with no more surprises to be had, which does feel a bit disappointing for speculative fiction.
Still, the negatives don't take away from the emotional impact of this story. Even though it tackles a heavy subject, it does so with a never-ending optimism that I found both appealing and heartwarming. Not to mention, I walk away with some food for thought about what I'd do if faced with the choice to know the length of my life. For that, I'll round it up to 4 stars.
My heartfelt thanks for the copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.
I didn’t expect to CRY! And, if a book moves me to tears-it earns all the stars!
This will make my FAVORITES list this year-and it’s AVAILABLE NOW!!
Overnight, the boxes arrived. For everyone 22 years and older.
EVERYWHERE. All over the World.
Just six inches wide, and three inches deep-each contained a string which revealed the MEASURE of your life. Your FATE disclosed by the length of your string.
Where did the boxes come from and how did they all get delivered at once?
Initially FEAR united Society.
Eventually FEAR will tear people apart.
SHORT STRINGERS will be discriminated against, pitting them against LONG STRINGERS.
MANDATES will vary from Country to Country, imposing on your freedom of privacy and your freedom of choice.
Yes, you may see some parallels between the Covid World, we are living in, and the one imagined here, but ultimately THIS story is about the EIGHT main CHARACTERS and the UNEXPECTED ways that their lives will touch one another.
You may think this book would be depressing, but despite the loss of some SHORT STRINGERS, it’s actually quite uplifting and hopeful.
And, definitely UNFORGETTABLE.
I cannot believe it is a debut!
If you enjoy the Dystopian Worlds that John Marrs creates- you will enjoy reading about this one.
Thank You to Harper Collins UK for the gifted ARC. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review!
This book literally blew my mind! It’s absolutely thought provoking, intriguing, mind numbing! My emotions are everywhere! I think I didn’t care about the mystery centered on boxes that include strings which predict the measure of a person! I cared more about the characters, their suffer, their adaptation to the new normal and their new life stories!
This book can be considered a good science fiction because of its unique plot line : people all around the world start finding boxes at their doors telling them how long they will live. We don’t know where those boxes came from! There is no security footage showing any proof about mysterious delivery men! Only thing we know the strings that determine how long a person will live are correct!
The outcome of the boxes’ sudden appearance resulted with chaotic and traumatic changes in the world! People who have short strings find themselves into deranged Darwinian attempt at exclusion. Most of them lose their jobs, health insurance, rights to get treated properly at hospital, getting accepted to the critical positions at army, government jobs.
Politicians use their shortcomings for their benefits to turn their democratic regulations into tyranny.
I loved the author’s perspective to the boxes’ traumatic reflections to people’s regular lives but I mostly enjoyed the powerful POVs ! I loved each of the character: except power thirsty politician Anthony!
There are two amazing love stories in this book ( if you include Gertrude’s, it will be three) a big twist at the end made me cry so much! But I deeply attached with each character including; Hank: you are my hero. Nina- Maura: I envied your extraordinary bond! Amie- Ben: I devoured your letters starting with Dear A and Dear B! Jack and Javier: I loved to read about their unique friendship even though they both carry the burden of their big secret. Both of them were amazing fighters.
This book is so poetic, heart wrenching, meaningful, poignant, one of a kind! It affected me more than I expected! Definitely, absolutely, extremely, highly recommend you to read it!
All over the world, people aged 22 years or older, are waking up to discover a wooden box waiting for them on their doorstep. The boxes are supposed to indicate how long the recipient has to live, depending on whether they receive a long string or a short one. Not surprisingly, panic ensues!
For some who received a short string, it was a chance to talk about, and contemplate death with their loved ones, a chance to say their goodbyes. Other ‘short stringers’ decided to just end it all, whilst some even chose not to open their box, quite happy to get on with their lives without that knowledge, to be free to be themselves. Knowing you’ll die sooner rather than later tends to make a person live life differently.
The Measure is essentially a story about love and relationships, and how each character and their loved ones deal with this extraordinary and frightening event.
There’s no doubt this was a well written and unique storyline, and is receiving many 5 star reviews, but it left me feeling quite down. This is possibly due to a combination of the past 2 years with the Covid pandemic, and the fact that whilst I was reading it, the news media around the world were leading with the invasion of a European country, making the world feel precarious enough. So, possibly reading about something else that was out of the control of the world’s population was presently a step too far from a personal point of view.
*Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Harper fiction for an ARC in exchange for an honest unbiased review *
It seems that everyone loves this book but me, so I expect it to be a big hit. I had high hopes for this one as the premise of the story hooked me in; people all around the world wake up to find a box on their doorstep with a piece of string inside that determines how long they are going to live. From that point on it just goes through various short string characters, or friends of short stringers all wondering when they were going to die. The characters weren't particularly memorable or interesting, and overall the storyline fell flat for me. Nothing transpires about where the boxes came from, or why. To be honest I felt like a short stringer reading it and struggled to keep going through this one. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an advance copy of this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
It Is Not The Years In Your Life That Count, It Is The Life In Your Years.
Would you want to know how many years you had left before you die?
Everyone worldwide over the age of 22 receives a box with a string that indicates how many years they have left. Who sent them? How? Why? This borders on sci-fi, but the focus is not on the how or why but on a group of people and how this knowledge affects their lives. Maybe it’s the nurse in me but I felt their pain and sympathized with their untenable situation.
If you knew you had little time left would you make different choices? Would you hire or promote a short stringer? Would you elect a short stringer to office? Imagine if Abraham Lincoln lost the election due to his short string status. What about all the greats of history and the arts whose lives were short but impactful? Would they have left an impact if they were discriminated against for being a short-stringer?
Would you marry a short stringer? Date one? Have children? Do you open your box or would you rather not know? If you open your box do you tell your loved ones?
What about discrimination, not just in the workplace or your private lives, but with insurance companies? What if a short stringer is diagnosed with cancer? Arrives in the ER after an accident? Should resources be used to treat them? What about soldiers serving in the military?
Inevitably, some people deal with their new knowledge honorably, while others go off the deep end. Discrimination rears it’s ugly head. Relationships change. How do you manage life’s risks if you know your string status?
How do people react to the knowledge of their status? Elation at seeing a long string vs despair with a short one? What if you are a long stringer but your spouse is a short stringer? This knowledge has the ability to bring out the worst in people, and the best.
This sounds as if it could be a depressing read, but it is not. The tone is hopeful. In the end, I found this poignant story touched on all my emotions. I was invested in the lives of these characters as I cheered on their successes and mourned their losses. It made me laugh, and it made me cry.
I read a lot and while I enjoy most, in the end many are forgettable. This is not one of those books. It is a creative and thought-provoking debut that will be on my 2022 favorites. It would make an excellent book club selection.
Who among us knows how long we have? Would I open my box? No I would not. Shouldn’t we all make the most of every moment of this precious life, regardless of how many years we have? Perhaps we should all contemplate our own mortality and live every day as if our string was short.
*The Audiobook was narrated by Julia Whelan who did an excellent job, as always. *this was a buddy read with my friend Marialyce, and it will be on our 2022 favorites list! Do check out her review!
The Measure by Nikki Erlick, Narrated by Julia Whelan
This is an interesting and thought provoking story. For some reason every person twenty two or older gets a box. Inside the box is a string which represents how long a person will live. Would you want to know how long you are going to live? Would you open your box or leave it unopened?
We follow eight people and the people in their lives, seeing how they and those around them react to this new reality. There are divisions between people based on string length. There are protests, bombings, shootings, attacks, and more because of this new way of judging others. It's pretty clear who the good guys are and who the bad guys are and mostly I just followed along, watching to see how things played out.
I think at time of writing pretty much every review of this book is five stars. So I guess I'm an outlier!
The Measure has an interesting high concept pitch... What if everyone could find out how long they had left to live? It does feel like this idea MUST have been done already (?) but if not credit to the author for a nice hook.
However, the execution for me just fell flat. I gave up around a third of the way through the book. I just wasn't interested. The characters literally felt like just names to me with no depth or interest.
And after the initial kick off of the plot, when people find boxes with strings in them which indicate how long they have to live, nothing much has happened. Its just a bunch of people agonising over having a short string or knowing someone with a short string.
Maybe it picks up as the book continues but I'd read enough to know the style wasn't for me.
Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.
“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life” that matters…… Emerson
Author Nikki Erlick explores humanity’s obsession with longevity(quantity) and quality of life. In her debut novel, “The Measure”, she scrutinized, what if every person on the earth could obtain the information of when they will die. They have a choice to find out. Would you want to know if you could divine how much more time you had to live? It’s a fascinating question. Erlick takes it a step further, if the world could do that, how would it affect culture? Art? Politics? Attitudes?
To accomplish this “idea” of providing this knowledge to humankind, Erlick begins her story by having boxes miraculously appear at people over the age of 21’s doorstep. Each person’s box has a string inside. The length of the string indicates the remaining length of your life. You have the option of opening the box to see your sting’s length, or not. It’s a step further from genetics where it is possible, if you choose, to do genetic studies to determine if you carry the gene for life debilitating diseases such as Huntington’s, breast cancer, etc. Some want to know, other’s do not. As a reader, we understand that the logistics of how and why the boxes miraculously appeared is not the point. The point is what we would do with that knowledge and the possible ramifications of that new knowledge ability.
At the beginning of the story, Erlick introduces us to various characters and their varying responses to the boxes. All her characters are realistically portrayed. In fact, this is a realistic philosophical contemplation. Once we meet all the characters and their varying reactions to the boxes arrival, we see the immediate fall out. For example, this isn’t a spoiler to say that a romantically involved young adult couple broke up because one person looked at the box, without permission, of their paramour. The “violated” person broke up with the person who opened their box.
Next, if you do look, are you obligated to inform anyone, including loved ones? Let’s go further, what rights do the government have over your knowledge of your length of life. Can potential employers ask to see your sting to determine whether they want to hire you? Dating apps, need you provide your length of life information? Should you morally have children if you know you’ll be dead at age 40?
Erlick shows how easy prejudice can arise. At first, some with short strings became reckless with their lives with this information. Their despair was seen as dangerous, much like our culture’s concern for mental health and gun violence. You have bipolar and a male? Now some in society are very prejudicial to those with mental health problems.
With prejudice comes political strategy. Running for office? Show the length of your string or we won’t vote for you. Should those politicians run on platforms regarding society’s treatment of “short-stringers”? The sociopolitical issues are rampant.
I loved this rumination of how we would change if we could have that information. Would you open your box? Would it change your life? Would it change your opinion of others?
This is a perfect book club read. The discussion topics are abundant. For a book club read, I give this novel 5 glowing stars. It’s chock full of differing viewpoints. I found this fascinating.
I chose to listen to the audio, narrated by the outstanding Julia Whelan. Her differing voices for all the characters made this a wonderful listen.
Question of the day: Think hard about this one…would you want to know your life span?
Today, every person around the world over the age of 22 awoke to find a box at their doorstep. Inside each box is a string. The length of that string represents your life span. ( no anxiety here!)
Now… you have choices to make! ◉Will you open the box? Do you truly want to know the length of your string? ◉What decisions and changes would you make in your life knowing (or not knowing) the length of your string. ◉Would you treat others differently depending on their string status?
I don’t think I have my answers to all those questions… do you?
A deeply thought provoking read that made for an exceptional buddy 🎧 with Susanne.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, with just a hint of a dystopian flavor then I highly recommend this one. It really makes you seriously think!
Once again Julia Whelan did an outstanding job with the narration of this audio!
Powerful, moving, reality, and one of the best books I have read this year.
In The Measure by the talented new author, Nikki Erlick, one encounters eight people on life's journey. Like the rest of the world they have received a box that contains a string that can't be destroyed, for it is the length that your life will last and these paricuar people have to live with a destiny they already know.
Of course, we know that not a one of us escapes death, quite a sobering thought indeed, but the when stays hidden, mostly in fear of what's to come. How these eight handle the knowledge of the end, is the gist of the story told with compassion and empathy. There is a plethora of emotions, feeling, and reality, that one can't help being drawn into the story as we too, may not have a box with a string but in reality, we do.
One can't help but reflect on whether they would open the box containing either a long or short future. It's like that question of would you want to know the day of your death? Would your life change because of that awareness and would, as the author postulates, that we might live a better life, one lacking hatred, being linked into groups that are detested in the news and other social media outlets. Look around us now are we not living what this book puts forth? Are we appreciative of just being alive, of having family and friend, of a beautiful day opening before us, or are we being taught to live in fear, afraid of color, race, creed, of belief in a governing system that right now seems inept and unable to see good?
This author so mimics our lives and our world that the book touches us in a way that others do not. It enjoins us to practice human emotions like empathy, joy, and happiness and eliminate those who try to place us in states of anxiety and fear.
I can't begin to explain the impact this story had on this reader and am surprised it hasn't shot up into best seller status. The Measure is our lives, it is where we are, it is how we can change our view of our world while embracing the good within us. Definitely recommend this stellar book from a first time author.
Jan and I were blown away with this powerful insightful look into how we live our lives. This is truly us, creatures who need to enjoy their time on earth and be grateful for that time every day.
Holy politics. Way too many stereotypes and political agendas for my taste. The premise was appealing but the execution fell flat for me. I wish a different author could take the main plot and write the book using a completely different angle—any other angle—and turn it into what I had HOPED it would be. I was not inspired, and by the last few chapters I found myself speed reading through a bog just to get it all over with.
i loved every second of this beautiful, unique and thought-provoking book 😭😭😭😭
do you want a creative book? thought-provoking book? character driven book? emotional book? beautiful book? good book for discussion? epic on audio? LOOK NO FURTHER!
i go off on a tangent below—clearly i could talk about this book for 5 hours. it would make a PERFECT book club pick (good choice, Jenna!!!) and it’s even better for people new to reading!
also—i cannot recommend the audiobook enough! it’s narrated by the majorly talented Julia Whelan and per usual she did an amazing job. top 5 audiobooks of all time for me without a question!
this story was so unique and i knew i’d love it from the premise. i saw a few mixed reviews so i was nervous i’d be left with more questions than answers after finishing, but after reflecting a bit more i realized those unanswered questions i do have (where did the strings come from? and why at age 22?) don’t really bother me like i thought they would.
it’s no secret to anyone that the strings in this book can be seen as a HUGE metaphor for so many things in our current state/lifestyle—gender, race, background, sexuality, you name it. why would we treat anyone else different because of any of those things? this book explores that same ideal but with a creative spin—a box with a string inside that gets delivered to your doorstep and depicts how long your life will be.
it’s so fun to ponder and think through what you’d do while reading this. would you open the box to see your string? would the curiousity get the better of you? or would you wait? i can see it both ways, of course. pros and cons to both situations. after you see how the world changes when the strings are delivered, you can’t help but think that ignorance could be bliss. or maybe the strings could help restore so much of our broken world + mindset—and most importantly, change how we choose to live our lives with the little time we have. what do we prioritize, knowing exactly how many years we have on this earth?
i also LOVEDDDDD how every character was intertwined someway. it gave me LOVE, ACTUALLY (the movie) vibes and was so fun to see it play out.
lastly… did i mention i am DYINGGGGG for this to get adapted?!?!? PLEASE book to movie gods!!!🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
a full review/more to come over on my IG next week, but if you do one thing over the next few months—pick up this book💖
Audiobook read by Julia Whelan …..10 hours and 57 minutes
It seems that lately I’ve either been reading books that I absolutely think are wonderful and beautiful and inspiring and all encompassing— Great enjoyable books!!!! or…. Dull boring books!!!!
This book fell — mostly — into the DULL and BORING. Add silly - with too many political references.
I felt the whole premises was silly…..(I understand it’s the ‘premise’ most readers thought ‘was’ interesting). BUT….it was the opposite for me. I wasn’t much of a fan of the premises—- but many of the conversations examined about life - [how we live it] — our choices, friendships, jobs, passions, adventurous spirit — etc. ‘we’re’ interring to think about.
Hell…. Paul and I discussed themes in this book for the past HOUR… and he hasn’t even read the damn book.
So — I got something worthy. Paul and I covered many topics that directly came from ‘this book’….. ….a little politics, religion , family, education, longevity, illness, violence, being ultra rich—a little about our comforts of inner peace - our clean house — yummy foods - friends - books - gardens - birds — joy - death - health.
Paul wanted to know — “Would I open the box?” “YES…. I definitely would”. Paul ‘wouldn’t’!
okay….. …..but…… …..this book messed with my head. I couldn’t stop giggling. Here’s why….. I got trapped in the SILLY SYMBOLISM!!! I kept thinking about all the many SHORT people jokes! I’m Short!! No joking!!
The characters in this novel who received a box with a short string got the short end of the stick. A short life for those short-stringers. So? Then what? What’s their fight? “Que sera sera ….what will be will be”. 🎶
I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. But I admit chatting with Paul added tons more pleasure. I was hysterically laughing ‘at it’ —‘with it’. ….. so thank you to the author, and my friends who read this before me. And even to one of my friends who didn’t finish the book. I understand!
The book got into my tbr-pile due to its premise. Imagine getting a box containing information about how long you will live ? What would that do to a person? The story explores that in a beautiful way. The prose was noteworthy and gave the book a dream-like quality. The different characters became real to me. I was moved by Nina’s love story, but also cared about the other characters. This story will stay with me, as it raised questions about prejudice, inequality and finding meaning despite of it.
"The Measure" by Niki Erlick is an enjoyable and well-written read!
You wake-up to begin your day like any other, but today you find a mysterious box outside your door. Inside is either a short string or a long string that measures the remainder of years in your life. Would you open your box?
I anxiously waited for my Libby hold of this audiobook for weeks and when it hit my inbox my other two reads were set aside so I could dig right in. Without skipping a beat, it gets right into the heart of the book's premise. There's lots of turmoil, chaos, speculation, conjecture, disappointment, fear, and total craziness within the pages.
I can't believe this is a debut novel, it's that impressive. This story contains unthinkable situations, along with others that are inspiring and hopeful. It feels like a mixture of Dystopian Sci-Fi, Satire, and, perhaps borderline Horror because it's actually horrifying to believe these circumstance happening. It's food for thought with tons of 'What If's' and 'Why's'. My mind was spinning, my heart was hurting, and it felt like the top of my head might blow off. Well, almost!
The 'creativity' in this novel is simply amazing and it feels 'different' from other books which hits two of my three prerequisites in making it a 5 star read. 'Entertaining' is my third prerequisite and the reason it fell short in this area was 'The Politics'.
I like my reading and listening to be free of anything political. I avoid it completely and, I believe, I'm a much better person because of it. It's completely a 'Me' thing. I did take away a star because I feel strongly about a trigger that's so important to my mental well-being.
I still love this book and it's still a winner in my opinion and I do recommend it to others as an enjoyable and well-written read.
And, in the light of full-disclosure, I would never open my box!
One morning, everyone over the age of 22 woke up to a box on their porch. In this box contained a string that measured their life span. In essence, you would know how much life you would have left to live. Which can be both a curse and a blessing depending on how you looked at it. In true human fashion, a bunch of idiots stir the pot and start a campaign of discrimination against the people with "short strings". This book takes you on a journey of love, friendship, family, and life. It makes you think if you knew how much time you had left, would you live it to the fullest?
If a small wooden box arrives on your doorstep inscribed “the measure of your life lies within“ would you open it? This is the scenario here as every adult over the age of 22 is confronted with small brown boxes inside, under a small piece of delicate fabric, is a length of string denoting your lifeline. What does it mean? Where have they come from? Why now – why this moment in time? Are they real and true? This is the dilemma confronting multiple millions and initially a new world order emerges and it’s very far from pretty. The story is told from several points of you which works really well.
First of all, if this sounds too grim for you after all we’ve been through in the last couple of years and the people of Ukraine are going through right now and that’s understandable. However, the book looks at the impact over several years and its ultimate message is actually very positive and hopeful as it forces an examination of your priorities and what is the most important thing to you in spite of the length of your life. In places it is very philosophical and it does make you reflect on yourself and your hopes and dreams. It’s extremely good at looking at the impact on the recipients and we get a whole range of reactions from scepticism to grief, from sadness and impotence to despair and joy.
You feel the tension as boxes are open and the emotions they elicit from defiance to resignation but also embracing the time left and living as happily as possible. The fear is palpable and initially a huge chasm emerges between short and long stringers with all its dangerous implications and I really like how the storytelling goes in waves but settles positively.
There is a bit of everything here there is happiness and sadness, tragedy and sacrifice, it’s poignant and there’s a good message about prejudice and injustice. There are some very likeable characters to pin your hopes on and root for and one you definitely don’t. The ending is emotional but it feels right.
Overall this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking rollercoaster read.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HarperCollins or the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Imagine waking up one day in a world where everyone age 22 and up has received a small wooden box, that inside, holds a string measuring the length of their life.
Chaos ensues — Are the strings real? Where did they come from? The unknowns result in a divisive nature across many aspects of life — Will short-stringers be discriminated against in the workplace? In health care? How about in their dating lives?
The Measure follows 8 individuals as they grapple with this new world, their strings, and decisions about how to live their lives.
So many questions and so much uncertainty — I couldn’t help but be reminded of the early days of the (still ongoing) pandemic. Times of uncertainty can reveal people’s true characters.
”That the beginning and the end may have been chosen for us, the string already spun, but the middle had always been left undetermined, to be woven and shaped by us.”
The Measure is thought provoking, heartfelt and compassionate, with a realistic sense of tension surrounding uncertainty, and a reminder of life’s fragility — 4.5 stars (rounded up)
This is an interesting, thought-provoking story that really makes you wonder if you'd want to find out how long you had to live if presented with the opportunity. While I wanted to know what would happen to the characters I came to feel invested in, I didn't feel that emotional impact that I really hoped for and expected. There was a moment where I thought it was coming, but it evaded me.
How would you react if one day you received a box containing a string that represented the length of your life? Would you open it? Would you leave it unopened? How would you react to its length? How or would your life choices change? Oh, I love novels that make me think… what if?
The characters story’s were woven together very well. I thought that their reactions to the ‘new normal’ was conveyed in a very individual and believable way. The societal reactions/discriminations would’ve felt much less plausible if the past several years had not mirrored it so closely.
My only minor criticisms are that it got a bit ‘long winded’ in spots and I had a hard time relating to Amy. Her views and the choices she made just didn’t fit together.
Throughout this I kept thinking of Julia Roberts character, Shelby, from the movie Steel Magnolias where she states, “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”… this is how life should be lived regardless of how long or short it turns out to be.
I listen to this on audio which was well narrated by Julia Whelan. Very thought provoking and timely, I think that this would be a wonderful book club choice. A solid debut. 4.5 stars.
***ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Remarkably, one day everyone aged 22 or over receives a small box on their doorstep. Inside the box is a string. What does this mean? Why do some people have shorter strings and others have longer strings? And where did the strings come from?
As details emerge, it seems that the string represents how long you will live. Would you want to know? Or would you never open the box? What happens when those with short strings are prevented from doing certain things? Would you tell friends and loved ones how long your string is?
Several sets of characters face these very issues, and they handle the news in different ways. It made for a fascinating thing to imagine, what would you do if you knew you really had to make the most of every day? What if spouses had different lengths?
I rooted for some of the characters and found others to be despicable. This debut author really drew me in to the story and it is memorable! I found this to be a fascinating concept and I really enjoyed this one. That being said, I’m not sure I’d want to wake up to a box on my doorstop tomorrow!
Thank you to Book Club Girl Early Read/Macmillan and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and honestly review this one. Now available!
This book had an interesting concept, but I felt it widely lacking in execution. The premise led me to believe that we were about to dive into mortality, relationships, and the inner workings of our characters' minds. However, I feel that this turned more into a shallow story of oppression that very lightly touched on the realities of being oppressed. That would have been alright if the scope of this book had been more narrow and really latched onto one or two people to explore, but I never got a deep sense of any of the characters. They seemed to be on the verge of fleshed out, and I felt that we were told more about them than showed. The story didn't feel like anything new, but instead seemed to be attempting to lightly showcase the real consequences of oppression via a flimsy touch of magical realism. It was a well-written, quick read, but failed in all over depth for me. I think that the themes the author touches on here have been explored in more depth and with more heart in contemporary fiction - no magical realism is needed to explain the theme of this book.
I always hate to rate a book low when it clearly resonates with so many people. I certainly don’t think this is a bad book but for me, it just didn’t hit. I love sci-fi and I love exploring the depths of human character and relationships. But this book barely skimmed the surface on both of these fronts. The sci-fi portion (the mysterious string) isn’t addressed and only used as a prop for the story. This would be ok if the characters had depth. Instead, the chapters are 2-4 pages long and jump from character to character so often that it’s impossible to engage deeply with anyone. That pacing works for thrillers but since the mystery isn’t the focus, it hurt this book overall.
I think overall this book read like a screenplay for network TV show. But what I’d hoped for was an HBO show but instead got one made for ABC.
This book has so much potential and could have played out in so many ways, better ways. In saying that this one chose a political view. The premise of this book was brilliant, everyone over the age of 22 receives a box with a string that presumable foretells how long before you die. The political plot just overthrows this book. The characters were strong and really built up, and your waiting for this big bomb...and nothing. 3 starts for the first few chapters.
What would happen if basically everyone in the world at the same is given an opportunity to find out approximately how long their own lifespan will be? It's a bit of a sci-fi premise, but this book is more of a character study novel because it mainly focuses on how this one piece of information impacts several different characters, who intermingle in surprising ways.
I am so terrible at writing reviews for books I love. Just please go read this book.
What is the measure of your life? Can it be defined by something as simple as a string? This is the imaginative story, exploring the perplexities of confronting your mortality.
The entire world is at a standstill. People are waking up to a simple box on their front door. The inscription:
The measure of your life lies within
The Measure, follows several characters as they journey through the realization that a short string or a long string can change the trajectory of all their plans and aspirations. The characters are layered, and varied:
Two pen pals, oblivious of one another's strings, organically brought together to determine if life can be built on trust and love, even when time is a victim.
A politician, using his long string, advantageously, to control minds, instill fear and dissension only to garner votes.
A doctor, determined to do the right thing, overwhelmed with the fear created by the strings, leaves his job in hopes of finding a better path in life.
Two men in the army, focused on living with integrity, switch strings to help one another reach their goals, only to find that the string is truth, no matter how hard you try to run away from it.
There are so many elements at play, should a couple stay together when one has a long string, the other a short? Should they have children?
Behind the veil of characters, the plot structures around current crises. As I was reading, I couldn't help but be drawn into the story of COVID--the chaos, the uncertainty, the political unrest--much of the structure felt similar.
Short strings were treated much like second class citizens, evoking the social crisis of people of color in America. The discriminatory underpinning was quite similar, but at times a miss.
I felt the author used a heavy hand to bring many issues in one book. Somehow, it created too much chaos in an already chaotic situation.
The beginning of the book, maybe the first half, is absolutely amazing--an immediate hook. I couldn't put it down. The second half, a bit convoluted with abrupt endings for important characters--my only criticism. Following the journey of a group of people, only to see years pass, and one page to describe their future--a let down.
I wouldn’t change a thing about this book, it’s absolute perfection! I only wish I read it sooner!
A world in which everyone aged 22+ gets to play God…
What if one morning a wooden box arrived on the doorstep of everyone in the world, including the homeless. Wherever you went to sleep, you awoke & your fate was there. The boxes contained a single red string—short, medium, long— the results unknown unless you looked. If you chose to peer inside, you’d know exactly how long you’d live, down to the month.
Would you open it? What if you were forced to?
With a wide variety of characters you will see decisions made from many angles: a couple in which one is a short-stringer, the other a long-lifer, a politician who realizes his time may be up far too soon in order to help the world, a doctor that can help extend the lives of his patients but can’t save himself; volunteers in the military forced to open their boxes & sent home if they don’t comply with the new world order & more.
“Gone to live my life.”
You’ll find yourself asking questions, such as—if given the choice would I raise a family with someone who wouldn’t live to see our kids reach their teens? If not, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of love? If I don’t have much time left shouldn’t I quit my job & go on vacation? Get married NOW rather than later? Robbery? Revenge? On the flip side Maybe you’re battling an awful disease but you’ve now been blessed with a long string— finally some confirmation that the fight is worth it!
“It takes real strength to keep on fighting…but sometimes I think we forget that it also takes strength to be able to let go.”
It makes you think & I guarantee you will appreciate life even more after reading it. A true reminder to live every day as if it’s your last. I only just finished & I want to reread it again.
“If forever doesn’t exist, we’ll invent it ourselves.”
The Measure is in my top 5 if not THE best book I’ve read this year IMO. I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.
A little bit dystopian yet a tiny bit utopian?
The best part, it’s a DEBUT!!! @nikkierlick I’m your #1 fan!