Goodreads Choice Awards – Nominee for Best Science Fiction (2022) and Nominee for Best Debut Novel (2022)

The Measure by Nikki Erlick
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

The Measure by Nikki Erlick is a speculative fiction novel written about a future in which adults are faced with the knowledge of the length of their life.

This book is part of My Fall 2023 Reading List.

My Overview

Imagine being able to find out the total length of your life. All you have to do is open a box and look at the string inside. The length of that string indicates the length of your life 😯. What would you do? Would you want to find out? Would you rather not know? That’s the dilemma that The Measure poses.

One morning, each adult around the world wakes up to find a small box. Each receives their own box, which contains a piece of string and an inscription stating that the measure of their life lies inside. It’s unknown where the boxes came from. What’s clear is that people are fearful about the boxes, and aren’t sure what to do. With the unknown comes fear, and leadership fueled by fear leads to chaos and deception. Initially, people are joined by the fear evoked by the strings in their boxes. Soon, they’re torn apart by them.

The theme of this novel is the value of life, and is well exhibited through the POVs of various characters. The story takes place in present time, so the reactions and upheaval are relatable. Although the story makes no reference to COVID, the fear and chaos caused by the strings reminded me of the early days of the pandemic. From the fear of the unknown across the globe, to the scrambling for new rules and regulations, they’re similar experiences.

This speculative fiction novel poses an interesting question: what if we could all know the length of life we’ll have? I found the concept of this story unique and interesting. Likely, at one point or another we’ve each wondered how much time we have left to live. What if adults could find out the length of their life? Should they change their life? How should they plan for the future? What if long lives are valued more? So many questions!

My Recommendation

If you haven’t read The Measure yet, I highly recommend it. This is the kind of thought-provoking story that will stay with me for a long time. I specifically recommend the audiobook, which is read by Julia Whelan.

Have you read this book?