A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.
What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?
Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?
Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.
But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .
Things to do Before the End of the World is a powerful coming of age story that reminds the reader that our impact on the environment could mean our ultimate extinction.
What I Liked
The timing of this story is even more impactful because of our current world situation. Much like the environment in the story, I don’t think anyone believed our world would come to a standstill due to a disease. Beyond comprehension, with our explosive advancements in every area, anything cannot be quickly neutralized so that our lives remain the same. But, as we have seen, that isn’t true. That made me think twice about the story’s message as I imagine it will other YA readers – young and old.
I found Olivia’s coming of age story to also be impactful in an unexpected, inspiring manner. She starts the story as a girl who is scared to live her life – to enjoy everything life has to offer, even if it is right in front of her. Olivia writes emails that she doesn’t send or intends to send to a girl for which she has feelings. She keeps her circle very tight and doesn’t venture outside of that circle, considering invisibility to be her superpower. Until she meets her cousin through an email after learning about her existence. Natasha has a significant impact on Olivia’s life, and the story of their relationship is such a compelling storyline that it is hard to put the book down once Natasha appears.
The pace stays quick throughout the story as I waited to see if life really would end on September 17. It can’t end, right? Or can it? I found myself imagining what the world would be like if everyone knew the exact day, it would end. I pictured a society turning very hedonistic in my mind, but if you want to find Barr’s thoughts, you will have to pick up this book.
This story has a lingering effect – my thoughts repeatedly returning to what I would do if I knew the exact date the world would end. I love that it has me asking tough questions of myself and society as a whole and making me contemplate if the changes I would make knowing the world was going to end are changes that I should be making now.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are ready for your world to change, this is the book that will take you there.
I started out working as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. I managed, somehow, to get commissioned to go travelling for a year, and came home with the beginnings of a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, a thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and I have since written eleven more novels for adults, one novella, and three book for Young Adults, published in the UK and around the world. I live in Cornwall with my husband Craig and our children.