Cover Image: At the End of Everything

At the End of Everything

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Member Reviews

4.5 Stars

Told from three vastly different perspectives, At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp follows the teenage inmates at the Hope Juvenile Treatment Center as they’re abandoned by their caregivers and security guards at the onset of a plague, left to fight for their lives, discover their true strengths, and prove to everyone they are more than just their past mistakes.

Nijkamp did a fantastic job with all aspects of At the End of Everything. The writing and storytelling was fantastic and meaningful, the characters represented diverse backgrounds, and the three main perspectives were full of emotion and fear and uncertainty. However, no matter how good this book is, I know it will not be for everyone. Nijkamp does not shy away from a lot of topics that tend to make people uneasy, such as transphobia, abuse, ableism, racial profiling, assault, and the mass spreading of uncontrolled illness. While many authors or publishers have been avoiding illnesses and plagues during the pandemic, Nijkamp tackles those uneasy topics head-on in order to thoroughly illustrate how many, both juvenile and adult, have been forgotten or neglected during lockdowns. For those readers who pick up books in order to escape, the harsh realities portrayed in At the End of Everything may not be for you, at least not at this time.

For those readers who can handle some grim reflections of reality in their fiction, I definitely recommend this book. Our three main characters – Logan, Emerson, and Grace – all beautifully unfold their individual stories while having unique reactions to the hellscape evolving just outside their cells. None of the characters, main or secondary, are at the Hope Juvenile Treatment Center for the same reason, and each of their reactions to the global plague align with their personal journeys. Nijkamp gave each of her characters the time and recognition they deserved even as the adults in their own world forgot about them.

At the End of Everything was, at times, hard to digest. Obviously, the plague that takes out hundreds of thousands in the book mirrors our very real pandemic. While kids remain abandoned at the treatment center, watching their cell mates remain defenseless and dying, they have to listen to people on the outside deny the plague is real. This is a heavy story to read, and as the teenagers have little to smile about, so do the readers. But just like in our real-life pandemic, the people in this story find reasons to continue to dream despite how hopeless their futures may look.

Nijkamp’s newest release is at times gritty, stark, and desolate. When the unthinkable happened, the teenagers at Hope Juvenile Treatment Center were forgotten. This fictitious account may be too troubling for some and eye-opening for others. I personally thought At the End of Everything delivered just the right balance of desperation and hope. Their plague was realistic, damaging, and not everyone makes it. For readers able to enjoy such a story at this time, Nijkamp beautifully weaves a tale of growth, overcoming assumptions, and defying society’s prejudices.
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Thank you NetGalley for this book!

I read This Is Where It Ends a while ago and was just floored at how excellent it was. After all this time, the story has really stuck with me. So, when I saw a new book by Nijkamp, I knew I would be reading it. I’m so happy I got this one from NetGalley because it was another great one that I won’t forget anytime soon.

From Goodreads: 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. 

The story is told from various teens within the Hope center. You see their survival story from multiple sides, namely those who are trying to help and make their situation as livable as possible. Even though the teens are there because they were in some kind of trouble, thankfully this isn’t some kind of Lord of the Flies re-creation. Sure, they disagree at times, but it isn’t a battle for king of the hill, and they *mostly* work together. Clearly, this was written post-Covid because plenty of the “news” the kids hear is directly from what we have been going through. Overall, I really liked this book, and I’ll keep my eye on other books from Nijkamp.
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When compared to other YA apocalyptic-type books or series, this one stands out for a couple of reasons. Unlike the Gone series or the Quarantine series, this book features a more diverse representation in its characters and it's more hopeful.  

The End of Everything is a quick read (I read it in less than a day) but didn't keep me on edge of my seat. While the author successfully introduced diverse characters, it was frequently distracting because we were told more than we were shown. I would have appreciated a more subtle approach, which I believe would have resonated more with me. 

Like the series mentioned above, this book featured a group of teenagers abandoned during an apocalyptic event. While other books took on a very Lord of the Flies persona, The End of Everything focused more on survival and hope. While the book could have been better with a little more suspense, I did appreciate the characters working together and portraying humanity in a positive light when dealing with catastrophic events.
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Great premise especially in this time of Covid and epidemics. A bunch of kids in a remote detention home are abandoned by the adults in charge and need to learn to fend for themselves. The diverse characters provide a wide spectrum of different personalities and lifestyles which makes it appealing to many groups old and young.
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This is not an easy book to read as we are following a group of teenagers who have been deemed to be unimportant and forgotten about when a deadly pandemic sweeps the global. It is so painful to read about this kids struggling to just survive; I cry easily at books but I haven't sobbed quite so hard as I did at this book in a long time.

This was quite possibly the easiest 5⭐ that I have ever given to a book and I wouldn't be surprised if this is my favourite books of the year, possibly even the decade. 

As much as I loved this book, I would advise caution to readers going in as this book is very much set during a pandemic and people are every bit as selfish and self-serving as you would expect and people of all ages die.

This book does an incredible job of critiquing the so-called justice system and the way that those in prison are continually treated as sub-human, especially throughout the pandemic.
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It's still a little difficult to read plague books. But I did like this one. Not a lot of stories take place with young adults living in juvie. I think it's far too easy to let these kids move around the system and completely lose them, especially in the midst of panic and fear. But I didn't love the characters like I hoped I would. I did like the story - it was compelling and hard to put down - but it didn't fully grab me like I'd hoped it would. Good, very good, but somehow I didn't love it.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
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3.5 stars

Lord of the flies, but add a plague, and you have at the end of everything.

A plague sweeps over the world, and those in juvie are left to themselves with no structure, protection or help; they are left to wither. The cast of characters works to survive as half of them go and half stay within the building, and while you'd think they'd be safe, the plague appears to wipe them out.

I think we all have episodes because of covid, and boy, does this add a new perspective. These kids face emotional and mental turmoil as they must face their past and what could be their future. The book does an excellent job of making you connect with the characters, but unfortunately, the story slowed and felt anti-climatic along. I can't be sure how it could have been better.
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While I do read some YA, I felt like this one wasn’t for me. Or maybe I didn’t read it at the right time! I also don’t read an abundance of character driven books. This was well done, but the story fell flat for me.
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A very thought-provoking and timely read. It is an emotional rollercoaster that ranges from heartbreaking to full of hope. Being left at a detention center when a pandemic occurs puts the action into overdrive within the story. The story has its ups and downs and I felt like it ended abruptly.
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i didn't enjoy this book, and DNFed it around half way. i don't think it's fair to review this book based on that.
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Whew, I was not ready for a pandemic read, especially one that feels post-apocalyptic/dystopian (not one of my favorite genres). I liked This Is Where It Ends, so I was excited to read more Nijkamp. And while I didn't love the way this one began, I grew to appreciate how much the characters were there for each other, and the literal and metaphorical themes of abandonment of our most vulnerable really cut me deeply as I read. I understand that this might be a TOUGH read for many, but it's worth it.
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This was a little bit rough to read during a pandemic, as it takes place during a horrible pandemic as well, but it was a great book which I will definitely purchase for my library. I appreciated how the setting (a juvenile detention facility) forced the kids there to really depend on themselves and work together after the guards abandoned them when the illness began. Many of the kids there don't feel super confident about themselves or their abilities, have been let down or abandoned by others, and have difficulty trusting people. By struggling through a pandemic together, despite many difficulties, those that survive find new kinds of strength within themselves. The end was pretty heartbreaking, and I suspect I won't be actively recommending this book still for a little while, but I think it will find an audience when the real-world pandemic isn't quite so fresh.
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Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is a misnomer; there is no hope in this juvenile detention center. When the guards start acting odd and then its residents wake up to no supervision, the teens feel a little celebratory. Though they’ve grown accustomed to living by strict schedules and demands, now they get to make all of the decisions. And one of the first choices is do we leave to find out what’s going on, or do we stay with what we know? The answer splits Hope’s residents in half, only to have the group who leaves discover that a deadly, highly contagious disease is spreading outside of the boundary fence. Armed guards, in fact, are stationed at the gate to keep them in, and they have no words of advice or comfort. When illness breaks out at Hope, the teens must join together to survive. But getting close to and helping others goes against everything they’re used to and puts them at a greater risk of becoming sick. As more people become ill and supplies dwindle, leaders step up to help. But with no rescue or aid in sight, will these teens make it out alive or will the infectious disease take over?

THOUGHTS: Written during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Nijkamp will captivate readers with this sci-fi thriller. Narrated by a diverse group of teens, readers will root for their survival and be amazed at what limits they push themselves to in order to make it out alive. Recommended for high school collections.
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The story was beautifully written and heartbreaking. It’s a story about teens who have been exiled to a juvenile treatment center. When the guards don’t show up a group of them make a break from the facility only to find that the there is a worldwide pandemic and people are dying.  They are all forced back to the center by soldiers and must learn to figure out how to survive. 

I love dystopian/apocalyptic books, but unfortunately this one fell flat for me. They were a lot of characters and it took me a while to get them all straight, and I felt like it was just too slow. I loved the author’s writing and was just waiting for something “big” to happen throughout the book, but unfortunately nothing did – it just ended. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This was very unrealistic for me, considering how much it is based on the actual pandemic we're living in.
I thought there would be more high stakes and difficulties, having a big group of teenagers figuring out how to survive on their own, but it was all weirdly easy.
The characters were interesting but a bit stereotypical as well.
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This is an apocalyptic thriller concept that has young narrators who are a bunch of broken, criminal kids who have lost their ways and who don’t have any chance to recover and starting over.
The place they stay is called Hope Juvenile Treatment Center.  The name is ironic considering there is no hope for those living there. The center lies amid a small clearing. A piece of elevated grasslands between the wild oak and hickory trees and mountain ranges of the Ozarks.

Those delinquent teenagers who are kept there haven’t seen the outside world for months or years, living under strict rules. There is an inner hierarchy between them. A wild and vicious boys group provide protection to some of them leading by the boy named Hunter who is a killer. And his group used to welcome new members with their special initiation ceremony by kicking them till they bleed out.

Then one day the guards start acting strange--and then they don't return. When some of the teens leave the facility, they find a group of armed soldiers. They tell them there is a respiratory plague spreading throughout the country and no one is allowed to leave their homes. The group realizes this means they've been abandoned to try to survive a plague at Hope.

This was a wild book and I enjoyed every bit of it. I loved the world, the characters, the plot. I would definitely recommend this one to all. I must mention that I loved how the author included diversity in the characters.

4.5 rounded up to 5 stars!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I have mixed emotions about this one. The writing was well done but I think the struggle for me was the far too familiar similarities between the plague that these kids are abandoned during and the COVID pandemic we are currently experiencing. I really tried to focus on the bones of the story and put my feelings aside. Good premise. Good writing. Sympathetic characters. But after investing 10 hours 
into this, I was very disappointed with the ending. I was hoping for some closure or an epilogue much further in the future. Hope. I needed some hope.
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If you like Marieke Nijkamp's style, and you're prepared for a plague book, this will be a great read for you. 

As the back copy indicates, this is a book about what happens to a group of kids at a juvenile detention center when a massive illness completely disrupts the world. The kids are left to fend for themselves and need to figure out how to survive. 

At the End of Everything follows Nijkamp's typical style, with several different POV characters offering different perspectives on the action as it unfolds. The characters are outside of the typical cis white het neurotypical norm, which I deeply appreciate as a queer autistic person. The action is intriguing and interesting; there was a real possibility the book would go seriously Lord of the Flies and I appreciated that it found a more interesting story to tell about people working together to survive. They take care of each other, because it's the only way to survive. The book touches on how kids like these tend to be abandoned and ignored, and as someone living in DC who saw what happened to kids in the DC jails at the beginning of the pandemic, this rang very true for me. Nijkamp does have a white main cast; she explains in an endnote that while Black kids are disproportionately targeted by the juvenile "justice" system, she did not feel it was appropriate for her to try and tell their story. 

One flaw in Nijkamp's style for me is that the characters' voices are not particularly distinct from one another. I rely on the chapter headings to tell me whose story I'm going to be reading, although the character's situation does tend to clue you in pretty quickly. If you don't like her style for that reason, I doubt this book will change your opinion. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy of this book.
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Marieke always writes stories that put faces to real circumstances that other people might have overlooked. In this case, she has gone and written about a respiratory illness that has taken over the world and circulated by people travelling, and her characters are a bunch of kids at a Juvenile Treatment Centre.

While some of this felt a little bit like Tomorrow When the War Began for a new generation, it was incredibly real to read while various strains of Covid is still running rampant around the world after two and a half years.

It was also completely unputdownable.

We have three point of view characters: Grace, Emerson and Logan. The author makes a note at the back of the book about her decision to have all three of her PoV characters be white. Logan is a twin and is also autistic. Her entire life changes basically as soon as her twin sister gets sick. In a lot of ways, she becomes more independent, despite the fact that her primary way of communicating is a series of hand signs that only her sister understands.

Grace is the one who first realises that the guards have left them at the beginning of the onset of this illness. She also becomes a sort of impromptu leader of this group, made all the better for the fact that she doesn't at all want to be the one in charge.

Emerson is nonbinary, religious and a musician. They are probably the most passive of the main characters, and often make decisions to put themselves out of the way of what is going on around them while at the same time not really shying away from putting themselves in danger. The best example of this is when they elect to be the grave digger for the kids who end up dying of the disease. It's a job no one else wants and sort of removes them even more from the outside gardening they'd been doing prior.

What I'm really surprised by is how little this story devolved into a Lord of the Flies scenario as soon as the guards left. There were hints of it, but the fact that all the violent kids kinda leave the facility in search of freedom as soon as the break out happens really does manage to abort that. The kids who are left want to work together and get through this. Bonds are made where beforehand the kids were only wary of each other.

In the midst of a pandemic and the seeming end of the world, the kids who are left in this facility end up making a sorely needed chosen family.
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This is a story about the end being the beginning 

This book caused me so much anxiety- every-time I  cough since reading it, I pause to consider if it’s the plague… reading this after Covid was particularly unnerving.   I enjoyed the characters & the excellent rep- and found the events felt realistic.  Children of the system are often left behind when systemic changes occur & I think this did a really good job discussing that.

Thank you so much Netgalley & Sourcebooks Fire
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