Title: Things To Do Before The End Of The World
Author: Emily Barr
Genre: YA / Contemporary
A Touch Misleading
From the synopsis of the book and the title, one might assume this book is focused more on preparing for the end of the world, and not about a teenage girl overcoming her shyness while she’s traveling Europe the summer before the world ends (maybe).
The fact that the world is ending is brought up quite often throughout the story, and is a major factor for the story moving forward, but it’s never quite a threat. I never felt like it really was going to be the end of the world. Other than a few occasions, whenever the final days were mentioned they were mostly glanced over in passing. The characters show very little stress over it all and its often written in a positive light: parties, fun, spending time with loved ones.
Despite the rather disappointing mentions of the end of the human race, and only in a positive way when it is mentioned, I thought that it was a nice take on an impeding doom type of story. The way Barr talks about the end times from different perspectives of society is something I don’t find often.
It was easy to predict the plot for me. I had it figured out before the halfway point of the book. The moment of the big reveal comes and goes and you’re left with little sympathy for the main character because you saw it a mile away and you sort of want to blame the main character for being so gullible.
Even still, it’s new. It’s a new premise that I had never read before, and despite its predictability, it was fun. It was fun seeing the characters interact with the world around them and adapting to new problems and challenges.
The few secrets that are revealed throughout the book are interesting, but I would not say they are integral to the plot, nor are they keeping you on the edge of your seat. Like the mentions of the apocalypse, the scenes where secrets are at the forefront come and go quickly and without much second thought that you can forget all about them and you’re not missing much.
As a Canadian reading the book, some of the language was confusing. There were mentions of “college” but the main character being only 16 or 17. There were a few other situations where I had to look up a phrase or two because they are not commonly used where I am from, but it is all simple enough to get over.
I think the best part of this book is the writing. I think Barr did a great job of creating a story that molds well with the writing. Like the story, the writing is fast paced. There is no wasted time on useless scenes or characters. Everyone we encounter as a reader has a purpose in the story, even if it is not relevant at first.
You also feel like you are in the mind of a teenaged protagonist, because you are. The quick, snappy language and dialogue fits well with the story, and I think the main character especially is given dialogue and language that perfectly fits her growth over the course of the book.
The disappointing and predictable premise of the book did initially turn me away from reading it, but once I got to a certain point, I found that the reading and the story kept me interested. It’s a short read; it only took me 3 days and I don’t spend a lot of time reading so you’ll likely get through it in no time.
I wouldn’t say its exhilarating, but its titillating enough to keep you interested and you’ll want to see if all your fears for the main character come true or not.