Cover Image: At the End of Everything

At the End of Everything

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Member Reviews

Title:   At the End of Everything
Author:   Marieke Nijkamp
Genre:   YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

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 enjoyed this kind of dark, kind of hopeful read. Some of the teenagers have done some truly awful things, some have just done thing the adults don’t understand, but they’re all there in need of rehabilitation. When the plague starts, they’re abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

The story is told in three main viewpoints, which gives a much more well-rounded perspective than a single main character would have done. There were moments of fear, panic, and pain mixed with the hope and determination, and this was a solid, entertaining read.

Marieke Nijkamp is a bestselling author. At the End of Everything is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)
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"When everything is too scary and too overwhelming, we all want to go home."

When is it too soon to read books about a deadly pandemic? I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and honestly, some of it was a bit triggering as we still live through the lingering effects of Covid-19. (Will it ever end?) At the End of Everything tells the story of what happens to those who are forgotten and left behind in the wake of a global pandemic. We start off by meeting several teenagers who are living at the Hope Juvenile Treatment Center. Logan and her sister Leah are there and protected by the bullies of the center. Logan doesn't talk and communicates with Leah through their own made up hand signals. Grace is a firey teenager who doesn't hesitate to stand up for what's right. Consequently, she spends a lot of time in isolation. Finally, we meet Emerson, who has just arrived at Hope. The guards have no intention of using Emerson's correct pronouns (they/them) and Grace is there to support Emerson. When Grace gets out of social isolation, she realizes the guards are acting strange but she isn't quite sure why.

It doesn't take long for the residents of Hope to figure out what's going on. The guards, therapist, and warden leave Hope unattended and unlocked one night. Some of the teens decide to walk to the nearby town of Sam’s Thorne, Arkansas. There they encounter a heavily guarded barricade and are told they aren't allowed to proceed further. One of the teens ends up shot to death and the rest of the group heads back to Hope to figure out what to do now that they have been left behind. As soon as they get back, some of the teens start to fall ill. This virus takes the form of coughing up blood and affecting part of the brain causing seizures and other medical issues. The teens split up with some of them deciding to travel outside of Hope to make it on their own while the other teens decide to stay at Hope and figure out how to make things work.

Be warned: this story isn't uplifting. It is horrific to see how quickly the virus spreads and the damage it has. It is equally horrific to see how quickly these teenagers have been forgotten and left to fend for themselves. Despite their attempts to reach out to family, friends, elected officials, and the company that runs Hope, no help arrives. The teens are left to figure things out which no supplies and no hope of rescue. This book served as a reminder to remember all members of society. Too often in the midst of a global pandemic, it's easy to stop and think about yourself and your immediate family members. I can't help but wonder how many people were forgotten about in the early days of Covid-19. In the author's note, Nijkamp mentions how she wanted to bring awareness to those folks who are not immediately thought of when it comes to global issues like pandemics. I appreciated getting to know the teens that are immediately labeled as delinquents and unworthy of our time and attention.

This story is bound to be one that sticks with me for a while. Thank you Marieke Nijkamp for writing a story that forced me to think about those who are not often on my radar.

TW: pandemic, death, violence

**Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This book is set at a juvenile facility for kids that got into trouble with the law and were seen as being able to improve their lives and being normal, average citizens after getting help for their issues. Unfortunately, a plague starts and the guards and doctors desert the building. The kids are left alone to fend for themselves. Will they make it? Read to find out!

Unfortunately for me this book was just okay. It was very tense and interesting at points, but reading a book about a plague DURING a plague seems a little too meta. It was hard to focus on, because my brain kept making comparisons between Covid and the plague in the book. So if you can handle that, read on! If not, do not pick this book up because the plague is the main focus in this story. All in all 3 stars.
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I got this from NetGalley and these opinions are my own. Logan, Emerson, and Grace are all teens in Hope Juvenile Treatment Center. All of the teens have either done some not great things or had a difficult time with life! For the most part they are just trying to make it through. One day they wake up and the guards are gone and there is military keeping them locked inside. Turns out a plague has hit, can they survive on their own?  Given our current pandemic this book brought a touch of reality to todays current times. I enjoyed all of the characters and the three main characters were well supported by other characters in the book! There was great character development and I enjoyed the touch of having the phone calls in the book! I also think it ended well and showed the resilience of people, even teens, in difficult times! Marieke Nijkamp did a wonderful job with this one!
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Well I did not know what to make of this book to start with. The blurb looked interesting and so I thought okay lets go with a YA book.  I am so glad I did, it is engrossing and really makes you think about what could have happened in the last two years and wonder what did happen in the prisons and young offender pleases. How easy is it for people to fall through the cracks. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it is so well written, thought out and engaging. 

I was given an advance copy by netgalley and the publishers but the review is entirely my own.
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What happens when teens in a youth family are abandoned during a plague?  Yes some of them might leave, some of them might do bad things but the majority of them band together to support one another.  Logan,  Grace, and Emerson tell this tale of horror and resilience.  Logan, twin to Leah, is non-verbal, Emerson is non-binary, and Grace is more or less the leader of the group left behind.  Death stalks these teens, as does hunger as the plague hits them and their supplies dwindle. I liked the different perspectives (each voice stood on its own).  The scenario is frighteningly real, which might make this a tough read for some.  At the same time Nijkamp has important messages to convey.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  A YA novel that made an impression on this older reader.
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Thank you for the arc! I'm very grateful but unfortunately didn't rate this. Admittedly YA isn't my usual genre so others may love this for different reasons.

 I just couldn't get into it and contemplated DNFing multiple times but struggled to piece bits together or find parts at all memorable.
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Marieke Nijkamp is a favorite of mine. Her writing always evokes a strong emotional response from me and At The End of Everything was no exception. It follows a group of characters in a Juvenile detention center when a plague hits. If it was difficult to survive before, now it’s really become tricky as things become progressively worse. 

The most striking – and heartbreaking – parts of the book revolve around the mistreatment of the kids but especially of those that are deemed ‘different’. I think the show of strength and community, even by a group of misfit teens during a terrifying time made for an interesting and timely read. 

My thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for the gifted DRC.
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I loved this book. First and foremost, the diversity in characters was really nice. I also liked that they were a group of "troubled kids" and yet, we saw so many redeeming qualities in them to make every individual worth something, rather than the worthless that they themselves feel. This novel is told from multiple perspectives so we get a solid sense of of our three main speakers: Emerson, Grace, and Logan. Each person has their own sad and scary back story; while also having these beautifully done story arcs within the main plot. 
Timing is everything, and this novel is as disturbing as it gets during our own pandemic. We find ourselves in a facility for "troubled teens"  - a place both horrific and safe at the same time for many of this kids, particularly since they have come here from worse situations. Emerson is non-binary and after being kicked out of their religious home is arrested and placed at Hope (the facility). Grace bounced around foster homes until she helped defend a girl from being assaulted and ended up at Hope, and Logan doesn't speak - she and her twin sister set fire to a building where terrible things happened with a man inside. The rest of the kids at Hope have equally as tragic pasts -- but when a deadly respiratory plague breaks out, the guards/doctors/staff from Hope abandon their posts and leave the kids to fend for themselves. What a perfect opportunity for redemption, growth, and bonds of friendship. 
This novel is timely; it deals with a pandemic, LGBTQIA+, prison systems, socio-economic inequalities, and of course, the main YA focus of growing up. We don't learn everything about every character. We don't even meet some of the characters who leave Hope voluntarily or those that die - but each loss, each setback these characters face makes your insides ache - because we see this in today's society. And the best fiction stories are those that are submerged in tangible, real-life moments: this book has them. 
These characters are strong, not because they are rough and tough, but because they are afraid and choose to continue forward, because they recognize their weaknesses but do not let it stop them; and they do not let fear drive them in their choices but instead: hope and the sense of community.
Highly recommend!
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I can tell from the content warning this book is not for me. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review.
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A good YA book about a tough subject but indeed worth the read. Just not for everyone.  I would recommend for older teens.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars rounded up to 3 stars

At the End of Everything is, in a way, a sort of modern-day reimagining of Lord of the Flies set against a pandemic backdrop.

While I appreciated aspects of the story—a unique consideration of an overlooked population affected by a pandemic, each character's struggles, the quiet desperation tinged with hope—I wanted a bit more... with just about, well, everything.

Of course, there was the overarching plot line, and a few subplots thrown in for good measure, but I found myself hungry for more tension and drama to keep me turning the pages. I kept hoping for something to happen, so I'd keep on reading, and then wonderfully a subplot would appear, only to be resolved a short time later (and without any complications that would affect the main storyline).

This novel was told from multiple POVs of the teens in the treatment center. But there were simply too many voices with too little character development to get me invested in their outcomes. And because the character development was lacking, I often found myself forgetting whose POV I was in since none of them were fully developed individuals.

There's also the timing of this novel set within our current-day pandemic to contend with. Many readers simply aren't ready for a read that's so close to reality.

Multiple times I considered DNFing the book, but by the time I was ready to give up I was so far in and too invested in my progress to walk away.

I also recognize that as a YA novel, I am not this book's target audience. I do believe some teens and young adults will appreciate and find value in this novel's themes and messages.
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A different take on a pandemic, At the End of Everything gives the reader a look into a place that no one ever thinks about; a place the certainly everyone forgot about when the world went crazy. Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is located in the mountains of Arkansas, and the residents are delinquents in every shape and form. The reader is introduced to several "main" characters, and it is through their voices the story is told.

The guards and warden just up and leave one day, and no one knows why.  When a select few wander outside, free from their prison, they find that they are relegated back to that same prison. A plague has been unleashed on the world, and one of them has been infected. They are then split into two groups: one to try their luck out in the real world and one that stays behind to ration food and tend to their sick.

Every voice has a shattered past, but they all look toward the future and do not want to be forgotten. While not every bit was enjoyable, the writing style was different and kept my interest. There are interspersed phone conversations and news stories that allow you to find out what is going on with the sickness in the world. You see how characters change or don't change; some for the better and definitely some not. But it is a tale of survival, and it comes at a time where the real world is in somewhat chaos, just not as bad as this tale.

Thank you, SOURCEBOOK Fire and NetGalley, for the ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.
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This reminded me a great deal of This is where it ends, but in the context of the pandemics instead of a school shooting. It was good, it was more thrilling than I had expected, but it is too early for that topic to come up in our leisure time. 

The juvenile treatment center has been abandoned by all people who could be responsible for the teenagers inside and they have no idea why. Until they break out, only to find there is a plague—the Plague—widespread and killing. Without receiving food or any attention from the state, they have to organize and treat themselves on their own despite their differences.

3.5 rounded up to 4.

As always, this author's control of plot and character development is superb. The story is told from three points of view, and I feel this was my favorite work since This is where it ends. It had me crying, it had me cheering, it had me questioning and wondering. 

It is still a book about a widespread and contagious disease. It is not Covid but it is very similar, except it makes the word into a war field, very similar to the distopic YA's that were popular some years ago. It's all written on the summary, so I feel that anyone that gets this book will be ready to read scenarios that have distopically become part of our present. I also feel it was an interesting take to focus on kids in a juvenile center. I really hope there isn't a true story behind this, but I can't say it didn't sound real, unfortunately. 

If you're aware of what you're getting into, I think it can be therapeutical to some. And it's not only that, there is a proper story that I found not only scary but all compelling. As usual for Nijkamp's books, you'll find diversity in the characters too. It's not a comfortable reading, but it was well built.
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For most of the YA I read, I like to go into it blind. Sourcebooks sent me an ARC of this one, and when it came up as my next on my TBR, I was excited. I've loved this author's other books, and knew this one would definitely be fantastic. As I began reading, and as I got to know the teens living at Hope Juvenile Treatment Center, I fell in love with them. And after the guards abandoned them in the wake of a deadly virus, the actual Plague, these teens had to band together if they had any hope of survival. Of course, the teens did wander out to discover why the guards had left them all alone, and soon after, the first victim begins coughing, and death soon follows. 

As the plague spreads, the teens begin to realize that the government has left them to fend for themselves. Ration cards do not make their way to the treatment center. They have no medication to take care of each other. After a time, their phones and internet fail and they have no way to get information from the outside world. 

We follow three teen perspectives: Logan, Grace, and Emerson as they attempt to do what they can to make it through this trying time. I loved them all. My heart soared with them, and broke for them. And I was sobbing by the end. I loved this book.

These teens are resourceful. They are magnificent. They embody the spirit that I see every day in the teens that walk into our library. And they challenge the stereotypes of teens who go to detention centers.  The author's note was really informative too, so definitely read that after you finish this book. I gobbled it right up and cannot wait for it to hit shelves so I can add it to mine. 

Appropriate for grades 8+.
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A mysterious plague has crippled the world and the guards of Hope Juvenile center have abandoned their charges and left the kids on their own. We alternately follow the story of the kids through the eyes of three of kids- Logan, Grace, and Emerson.  They must figure out how to navigate and run the center in their own and determine what each will do to help or hurt those who remained at the center. 

This is a story of survival and hard times. It is definitely heavily COVID influenced and it feels a bit soon for me personally to read it. I think the ending left me wishing for a bit brighter outlook and left me a bit disappointed.  I think it was the authors intent to paint a bleak story of those she feels are forgotten and abandoned

I received a digital copy from NetGalley and Sourcebooks so that I could share my thoughts
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I really wanted to like this book, and I thank the publisher for sending it to me. I thought the writing was good and the idea of it was excellent. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into it and only got about half way through before I stopped reading it altogether.  

I would read a chapter or two at a time, and when I picked it back up, I couldn’t remember a thing about what I read last. I have read the same chapter three times now - enough for me to give up. It just didn’t grab me.
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Thanks to #NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

They have been sent to Hope Juvenile Treatment Center to pay for their crimes and be rehabilitated into contributing members of society. The warden, the guards and their therapist are there to help them along this journey. Until all the adults leave, abandoning the teens to fend for themselves as a plague hits the US. 8 leave the facility to brave the wilderness, 22 stay. Now they have to figure our how to work together to survive even as the plague reaches the facility and the food supply dwindles. 
This is a story of survival, death, hope and despair told through the voices of 3 of the teens:  
     Leah -who communicates through made up signs only her twin knows
     Grace -who has become the reluctant leader of their group
     and Emerson -who is nonbinary and trusts no one 

I will definitely be adding this novel by Marieke Nijkamp to our high school library collection. I believe it would be fine for students from 8th grade up to read. 

There is some language. The author includes the following content warnings:  abuse, death, illness, implied eugenics, imprisonment, transphobia, mentions of assault, blood, gunshots, racial profiling, and (sexual) violence. 
The sexual violence is not described in graphic detail.
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OMG a book about the bubonic plague but a new kind in recent times. My sister once didn't want me to go to Europe on a trip cause of the plague lol. She also didn't want me to go to Alaska cause of vampires, I love her. But the plague was horrible and centuries ago.

But our setting is a correctional facility for teenagers. Everyone was told to shelter in place and not leave their homes. So the guards and workers just left these kids with no supervision and no care. Each one of them were there for different reasons. And as my daughter's principal says there are no bad kids, only bad circumstances. If they had the right support, encouragement and environment would they have needed to be placed at this jail type place. I am horrified by mass incarceration and even at such a young age. But also, leaving them to fend for themselves during a pandemic is also pretty horrible since those guards were abusive. In a way they are better off alone but no one is even answering their calls for help.

I wanted to keep reading to find out who survived and if that party that took off in the beginning even made it since they were out in the middle of nowhere in the Ozarks. Long story short, don't leave incarcerated people to die during a pandemic, these poor kids. This event brought out their character good and bad as they tried to survive and care for those around them as they all started getting very ill.

This had  bunch of trigger warnings since the young adults didn't have their needs or preferences considered. Their pronouns, disabilities, etc. They were considerate towards eachother but their families and other adults were another matter.

Thank you sourcebooksfire and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.
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What a refreshing and interesting read! The characters are an impressively diverse group of teenagers who are living the reality of our world today - a pandemic. As a teacher, I look forward to bringing this book into my classroom.
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