Homer's Travels: Book: Nikki Erlick's "The Measure"

Friday, March 10, 2023

Book: Nikki Erlick's "The Measure"

This book, Nikki Erlick's "The Measure", begins with a truly novel premise.  On an ordinary day in March, everyone twenty-two years and older wakes up to find a small box outside their doors.  On the outside of the box it says "The measure of your life lies within."  Inside the box is an inscription of the recipient's name and a length of string.  No one sees the boxes appear.  Each day thereafter, when someone turns twenty-two, their box mysteriously appears at their door.

It is soon discovered that the length of the string is proportional to the length of a person's life.  A long string means a long life.  A short string means a short one.  The strings turn out to be accurate no matter the cause of death ... accident, illness, murder ... the strings are always right.

The book then follows several people whose lives become intertwined like pieces of string, one could say, as they try to cope with the world changing events that result from the appearance of the strings.  Laws are passed to prevent short-stringers from working in services like police, fire, and the armed forces in the belief that long stringers would not die on the job (being maimed or put into a coma is still a possibility of course).  Some short stringers become violent.  A Presidential candidate wins an election when his string is shown to be longer than his better opponent.  Relationships breakup once people discover their lives will not be the same length.

This premise fascinated me but as I read on I realized the author really didn't know how to end the book.  It just sort of faded away near the end.  Some things get better.  Society adjusts.  We never learn who or what was delivering the boxes.  I found the end anti-climatic.

When I started this book I thought it may be a five star book but I ended up giving it only four stars out of five on Goodreads because the five star premise was held back by the four star ending.

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