At the End of Everything
Published on January 25, 2022
About At the End of Everything
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS comes another heartbreaking, emotional and timely page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.
Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.
As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.
I requested this book because both of the other books I’ve read by Marieke Nijkamp (THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS and BEFORE I LET GO) have been powerfully told stories and really well written– and this one is no exception. I wish I had been in a different place when I picked up this book to read it. Like, I loved the characters, and it’s such a heart-wrenching story. I wish I’d had more emotional bandwidth as I was reading the book, which isn’t the author’s fault at all. I think I just happened to read it when my emotional gas tank was almost empty.
But. All that aside.
So the story follows three points of view: Logan, who communicates via a sign language she and her twin sister developed between them; Emerson, a new resident of Hope who’s also nonbinary; and Grace, a girl with some big anger issues who winds up reluctantly in charge of the group.
I loved the balance of those three points of view. They all have different feelings and ideas about what’s happening and how to go forward in the best way. Each of them contribute critical things to the survival of the group, but in really different ways. I think the whole story could have been told from any one of those perspectives, but I think having all three added so much to the depth and breadth of the book.
The plot is pretty simple– a deadly plague disrupts every aspect of life as they know it– but it brings really high stakes. The characters literally face life and death decisions at every turn. I read this book in two days, and I couldn’t not do that. I was absolutely drawn into the story and what would happen to each of the characters in it.
Something about the book reminded me of AWAY WAY WE GO by Emile Ostrovski. It’s a bit darker than that one is, but I guess it has a similar feel in terms of this small, collapsing world inside a culture faced with a global pandemic. I think fans of edgy fiction will like AT THE END OF EVERYTHING.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Main characters are white. One is mute. Another is Ace. The other is nonbinary.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.
One character was raised as a Catholic, but when they came out as nonbinary, they were rejected from their church. They have a lot of (understandable) feelings of anger and hurt, but at one point they express longing to have the certainty of faith in their life again. Sometimes they pray or ask St. Jude to pray for them.
Violent Content – trigger warning for sexual assault, transphobia, and ableism.
A group of kids surround another kid and beat them up. Soldiers shoot and kill a boy who does not follow their commands. A girl sees a boy sexually assaulting another girl and beats him up. Two girls light a warehouse on fire that they thought was empty and nearly kill someone in the fire.
Emerson (the nonbinary character) faces situations in which they’re misgendered or harmed for their identity. Their parents threw them out and their friends abandoned them when they came out as nonbinary.
Several other characters belittle or talk down to Logan because she communicates with sign language and they assume she’s less intelligent or less capable than they are. Those behaviors are clearly addressed and called out as wrong and harmful.
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