Reading At the End of Everything was quite the journey. There are so many threads of issues with each of these teens that can resonate with a broad audience. With an inclusive cast in a no-win situation, the teens are trying to survive in the way of a pandemic, which might hit close to home for some readers.
I appreciate Nijkamp is writing about juvenile facilities, as it’s a step toward spotlighting the obsession with mass incarceration in this country. Emerson reflects so many teens in America whose family uses religion to justify not supporting their children in their quest to find comfort in their own body.
There are a few things that didn’t work for me. First, anyone in essentially what equals a coma for months will not be kept alive without the aid of IV feeding and such, which is something that isn’t even a possibility in this situation. Second, I appreciate when a book will have, for example, newspaper clippings, a phone call transcribed, a podcast transcribed, and so on because it furthers the story. Nijkamp had several various transcriptions unrelated to each other but related to the situation. But I found the food inventory lists tedious and completely unnecessary as the storyline made clear that food was at a premium, and it felt like filler to me.
Aside from those minor issues, this character-driven storyline comes at a time where we’re all still very much in a pandemic. Readers looking for an escape from the pandemic won’t find that reading this book, but they will find so much more in the varying teens that comprise this thoughtful novel. Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire, for sending this along.
About the Book:
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.