The Measure by Nikki Erlick (368 pages)
The Measure Follows Eight Characters and the Unexpected Ways a Box Touches Their Lives
Overnight, mysterious boxes arrive on people’s doorsteps across the globe. The boxes, just six inches wide and three inches deep, contain a single piece of string. In this story, the length of your string is a measure of how long you have left to live. In other words, your fate is sealed by this string.
In the wake of their arrival, questions begin surfacing about the boxes. Where did the boxes come from? And how were they delivered precisely at the same time to every person 22 years of age and older? Fear begins to ravage society as people begin discriminating against “shorter string individuals” and worshiping those with longer strings.
As the world grapples with the strings, countries begin to define freedoms of privacy and choice based on the content of each person’s box. The Measure follows eight characters and the unexpected ways the box touches their lives. Each makes a decision to either open the box or store it away unconcerned about what the string has to say. We learn the hardship of knowing, or not knowing, on their family and friends and the future life they pursue.
The Measure is Incredibly Though-Provoking
We meet Nina, who, along with her partner, Maura, decides not to open her box until science can explain the phenomenon. She is soon forced to face reality when the strings’ predictions are proven accurate. The dynamic of their relationship is altered when they both open their boxes. Nina’s little sister Amie, however, decides to live her life as if the boxes were never delivered.
Then there is Ben, whose life implodes due to the box, and Hank, a doctor who has spent his whole life believing science could save lives. The boxes also don’t stop a presidential campaign since we meet Anthony, who only wants to use the threat of fear to get more votes. Jack, Anthony’s nephew, soon becomes a pawn in the campaign. He soon delves his own way into the mystery surrounding the boxes with the help of his friend Javier.
The story unfolds realistically as each character contemplates their respective box and how much time they have left. Their reactions–whether they opened their box or not–were conveyed in a very believable manner.
Amid the overall dystopian flavor, this novel is incredibly thought-provoking. It illustrates how, during challenging and uncertain times, people reveal their true nature. The final chapter will leave you reeling.
This debut novel is magnificent. The parallels between our current world and the one imagined here really makes you think about the uncertainty of life.
Tomorrow is never guaranteed.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 stars
This book earns all the stars. While The Measure may sound depressing, it is a story that is truly uplifting and hopeful. The premise is original, and you’re bound to be left questioning what you would do with your own box. That being said, I am not sure I’d want to wake up to a box on my doorstep any time soon.
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Shannon K. Loar is a small town girl with a passion for reading. Books have played a significant role in her life since her youth where she’d spend hours in the local library where her grandma served as the librarian. In her free time, you can find Shannon reading or listening to a book, practicing yoga or binging a streaming show. Her most precious time is spent with her children ages 20, 18 and 15. Her new favorite fashion trend, athletic leisure.