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At the End of Everything

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At the End of Everything

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When the plague strikes, the youth in the Hope detention center are abandoned. 

This book is the story of what happens next. Can these discarded teens survive?  What do they find out about themselves? 

A grim but interesting read, possibly inspired by the current pandemic.
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Actual rating 3.5/5 stars.

<i>"This is what the plague looks like.
It’s not illness, at first. It’s fear. The type of fear that nags at the back of your thoughts, that crawls like a parasite under your skin. It’s like every bruise that brushes against my clothes."</i>

The guards have gone and the lights are out. The teens at The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center find themselves abandoned. When a few of them travel to find help or answers they encounter armed soldiers and are informed that a deadly plague has swept through the world, taking many lives with it. Those supposed to protect and care for these teens have fled and now their only chance for survival lies in trusting in and working with the few of them who are left.

Reading about a plague during a pandemic was an odd experience. I would definitely say it heightened my emotional attachment to the storyline. The events that actually transpired in 2020 did not escalate as quickly nor get quite as bad as those depicted here, but this delivered a scary insight to how sinister everything could have easily turned. If I had read this a few years ago it may have felt like a distant dystopian story but reading it in 2021 made it feel like a very possible reality we were lucky to escape from.

For all the terror this novel conjured, it was also a remarkably quiet story. Events were slowly-paced and all were full of sorrow. It provided a very humane approach to the plague and kept the focus rooted on the individuals attempting to survive it.

The teens who centred the story were wonderfully resilient individuals. The world deemed them  expendable and yet they fought for their survival every single day, never giving up or complaining about the unfairness of their situation. The diverse cast of characters were all so lovable, selfless, and hard-working. I could have spent an entire novel's worth of pages with each one of them and am glad to have been provided with this insight to their stories, both personally and relating to the plague.

This captivated me throughout and yet I wished for a little something more, at the conclusion. Sorrow dogged these pages and the tone was not alleviated at the book's close. I felt desperately sad once it was over and though I understand that this was probably Nijkamp's desire, I could have used a few more moments of lightness and hope to be peppered throughout this.
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Okay, so I’ve read a few of Marieke books before and I have always really enjoyed them which is why I was so excited to receive an ARC for this book. However, I felt disappointed with this book and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what I didn’t like, but perhaps this review will help make my mind clearer.

The cover is stunning - dark and mysterious and instantly drew me in. I loved the idea of the premise. Delinquent teens locked up and a sudden, bizarre disease has plagued the outside world? This honestly sounds like such an exciting plot but the execution just wasn’t it for me.

I have an issue with books that have multiple POV’s. Some authors can do it really well and you feel connected to the characters, but others (such as this one), fail to make you care about any of them when it feels like you still don’t know them. We have several POVs we flick between in this book and whilst I could understand this, it just didn’t work. I think having any more than two POVs is too many, especially when things just felt repeated in every chapter.
I also wasn’t keen on the pace of the plot. I found myself skimming some chapters and felt like I missed nothing significant. The book was slow starting and when things picked up, it was over and done with quick. 
I also felt like I kept waiting for more. More twists, more of a thriller (ish) plot as that’s the vibe I got from this book. 

This was the kind of book that had a lot of potential but just fell flat for me. I think it would also appeal to much younger YA readers.

<i>I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.</I>
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Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC! Overall, this story about a group of teenagers who are forgotten as a plague takes over the outside world is captivating. I was drawn in quickly and couldn’t put the book down as I read deeper into the story. I liked the diverse points of view and how the author shifted into their voices when a new chapter began. I felt like there could have been more depth there - it came across as barely scratching the surface. I didn’t feel very invested in the characters - I just wanted to know how it ended. I do not want to go into specifics and spoil the story - definitely give this a read to hear about what happens to those who were forgotten by those who were supposed to love and protect them.
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I wasn't prepared for just how timely this book is; an outbreak, people who don't care or believe in its existence, people who work to keep everyone else safe at their own expense...It was difficult to read but only because I feel like we're living this book's setting in real life.

The characters were diverse and unique, and I love the representation of different communities. Particularly with Emerson being non-binary and Logan speaking ASL; it definitely brought to light the difficulties that marginalized and underrepresented communities have to deal with in the best of times, let alone during a national crisis.

And it got me thinking - in all of Covid, did I once think about more than my little bubble and consider what was going on in, say, rehabilitation centers, detention centers, etc.? Ouch.
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I really enjoyed This Is Where It Ends and Even If We Break, so when I saw At the End of Everything available for request, I was thrilled to be approved. 

When the guards at Hope Juvenile Treatment Center--a remote detention center in the Ozarks--start acting strangely, none of the teens at the center could have predicted what it meant. An off day? Ornery attitudes?

A plague. And soon, the teens at Hope find themselves abandoned as a deadly virus rages outside. As  tensions and fear rise, they must figure out who to trust and how to survive. 

I liked this book.

Nijkamp did an excellent job creating and maintaining narrative voices. Multiple POVs can be tricky, but I didn't have a difficult time distinguishing characters or their motivations. I found their back stories to be layered and authentic, and overall, the chapters flowed well together. I wished there had been slightly more push past some of the more plague-plot stereotypes, but this still holds up well as a character study amidst harrowing circumstances. 

At the End of Everything is a quick read with solid characters and an of-the-moment plot that is bound to get people talking. 

Big thanks to Sourcebooks for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
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Thank you Netgalley for the digital advanced readers copy of At The End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp in exchange for my honest review. 

This story takes place at the fictional Hope Juvenile Treatment Center which houses a group of delinquent teenagers who all have been sent there for various reasons (arson, theft, etc.). It's not a very hopeful place especially when the teens are mistreated by the guards and are forced to abide by strict rules and zero compassion. But then the guards as well as the doctors start acting strange. Pretty soon, the teens find themselves all alone with no supervision. A small group of teens wander out of the treatment center to try to find answers when a violent exchange takes place between them and a group of soldiers. The teens find out that a deadly plague is taking over the country and everyone is forced to quarantine. What happens next will have you on the edge of your seat! 

I didn't think I'd enjoy this book, being that reading is my escape and the last thing I really want to read about is being in quarantine. But I was fully engrossed and had to know what was going to happen. This book is told in several of the teen's perspectives. I liked that the reader gets to know the thoughts, feelings, and actions of different characters. I may have gotten a bit emotional at one point. The author, Marieke Nijkamp, has spun a gripping fictional tale with a touch of reality and what our world is dealing with.
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This dystopian novel takes the current pandemic to a new level as a group of children or teens - the book isn't too  specific about ages - who are in a juvenile correctional facility must fend for themselves when their guards abandon them as the plague takes hold.  I believe this book would have held together better if I had read the previous stories. It can be read as a stand-alone but I felt I was missing some important information.  Nevertheless, the characters were appealing and though I felt the book was short on details, I cared about them and their struggles to survive in a hostile world.
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At The End Of Everything by this new to me author, published by Sourcebooks, is a n absolutely gripping ya-ish thriller that had me in knots.
The storyline is set in  a juvenile treatment center called Hope - ironic because hope is the last what is to expected at this place. The teens there, forgotten by society coping with their circumstances, heartbreaking, tearyeyed. Simply unputdownable, this book deals with sensitive subjects. This is an highly en´motional read, consider you warned.
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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC and giving me the opportunity to read this.
This story is set in a juvenile “rehabilitation” center, though reads more like a prison. Positioned in the Ozarks, the children are sent there for almost every reason - possible shoplifting, being transgender, all the way to supposed murder. No one there seems to care about them and definitely no one in the local town wants them there. Enter a plague and this is where the store falls flat… when I mentioned a plague in this setting, a reader can imagine almost everything that occurs in the story. We’ll, in this case, everything imagined is basically what happens. The characters are mostly stereotypes and act accordingly. The illness spreads predictably, as does the fallout it causes. I wanted to like this book, but it was almost boring and left no where for the reader to be surprised.
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Nijkamp has came back to us with another amazing book, that tells an important story as well. The writing proves to be flawless using the right words and placement. Cannot wait to read more of her work!
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for early access. I really liked the story and character development, along with the writing overall. But I think the topic of dealing with a plague/pandemic might be a little too soon for what's currently going on- made it only a 4 star for me.
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this prior to publication. Finding yourself caught up in an event of such magnitude is not something you could, generally, prepare for...but the events of recent years have, I think understandably, made people reflect on what they might do in such a situation and what is important to them.
Our story is set principally in the Hope Juvenile Treatment Centre, a place where those teens people don't know what to do with are dumped. Nobody really notices them, nobody cares about them...and they are abandoned when the guards receive notice of an infectious disease spreading outside.
The book opens with establishing the hierarchy within the Centre, and introducing us to some of the key characters. Once the teens discover they have been left alone, the book focuses on their immediate reaction, the challenge to establish some sense of normalcy within the group and their ongoing attempts to survive in the face of something they have no idea how to beat.
After an attempted break-out results in the death of one of their party, and the realisation that they have been abandoned, those that remain in Hope are shown working out how to survive. There is the very real fear of catching the disease, there's the reality of coping with an unknown situation and there's the ongoing issues that come with having to trust people you don't necessarily feel able to trust.
The book shows teens coping in adverse circumstances - and doing a much better job of it than many adults. We also get to see some of our core group learning about themselves and how to cope with some of their own issues that may impact on their lives outside. Not everything ends well, but there is a sense of resolve and optimism that remains throughout.
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A deadly plague while you’re trapped at an orphanage??  Sign me up - you had me at plague ravaging the world. Slightly Lord of the Flies esque and a great story!
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Review of eBook file

Despite its name, the Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is particularly devoid of hope, especially for its residents. Here teens who may or may not be delinquents find themselves incarcerated in a place where everything they do is controlled and supervised by guards. Meals, classes, therapy or group therapy, work in the community garden . . . it all happens according to the routine.

For the teens, routine is everything until the day the adults begin acting strangely . . . and then vanish.

It doesn’t take long for ten of the teens to decide to leave . . . only to find heavily-armed soldiers guarding the road and asking for their permits. From the soldiers, the teens learn that a plague has forced government officials to declare a total lockdown. No one can leave their house or travel outside town borders without a permit. Reluctantly returning to the center, the young people take stock of their meager provisions and their lack of support; ultimately, they set about doing whatever is necessary to survive.

What will happen to the abandoned young people? Will the plague claim their lives or will they find a way to survive?

In a sort of apocalyptic event [eerily reminiscent of events related to the still-lingering Covid-19 pandemic], adults abandon a group of teens, leaving them alone with no thought for their welfare or for their potential survival. Even more incredibly, they simply vanish without letting the young people know what is happening in the towns outside the center.

The promising story has moments of genuine impact and it’s easy for the reader to feel true empathy for the situation in which the young people find themselves. But the premise that the adults would simply walk away and leave the teens to their own devices is extremely difficult to accept [willing suspension of disbelief notwithstanding].

Unfortunately, the obvious effort to create a diverse/politically-correct group . . . black, white, Asian, Mexican, disabled/special needs, trans/nonbinary . . . seems more important than any true character development for the teens at the center of this ominous tale. The unfolding story centers around three characters [Grace, Logan, and Emerson] and their interactions with the other teens, but each of the characters serves primarily as a stereotype for the group or behavior type they represent. As a result, the lack of character depth and the failure to provide any significant backstory for the teens make any meaningful connection with the characters difficult for the reader even though they may find cathartic, emotional moments within the telling of the tale.

Teen and young adult readers are the targeted audiences for this narrative; unfortunately for the book, it may simply be too soon to tell this story . . . many readers are likely to need a greater distance between the telling of this tale and the ongoing pandemic struggles they are dealing with in real life.

I received a free copy of this eBook from Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley
#AtTheEndOfEverything #NetGalley
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This book was different than I expected.    A group of kids in a place for deliinquents are suddenly left alone due to a pandemic.  They are told nothing - they just awake up one day and all adults are gone.    Right away this struck me wrong.    In the real world, yes, I believe many adults would have just left them.  But someone would say something to them - it wouldn't be a mystery.    

Now we move on to surviving.   At first I was seeing a possible retelling of Lord of the Flies and I braced myself.  But this wasn't that at all.   This was their story of survival and getting through it together.   

I felt like each character was sort of a cardboard character of the next one, with changes made.    Like you take this person A, then add humor and it becomes person B.    It you add a mean streak it becomes person C.     I guess I just didn't really hear an indiividual voice when each of them was speaking.  

All that being said, I still through it was a pretty good book.   Certainly worth reading - it was interesting, and I wanted to know what happened next 

I want to thank the author, the publisher and #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review
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This book certainly hit a little close to home with it being about a pandemic and mysterious illness.  I could tell the author was pulling from real-life experience, especially with the phone conversations between the kids and their families (some not believing in the pandemic).  I liked the narrators and really felt they told the story and their thoughts well.  I was cheering on the kids to survive and be okay.  I felt the ending was a little rushed and wrapped up without really being an ending.  This might have been on purpose, but I wanted to see the characters through the pandemic to the other side (but I guess if we're still experiencing it, then it might still be going on for them...).  I can see future teens reading this book and asking us if this is what is was like.  :)
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This book suffered from several flaws.  First, there was the lack of a compelling opening scene to grab the reader's attention.   The writing style is copy, without distinct voices for each character.  The characters do have well thought out back stories, but this doesn't come through in tone or style.  The premise of the book, a group of teens abandoned at a group home during a national health emergency is unique.   I honestly wanted to like it but just could not.
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This is the book I never knew I needed. It completely blew me away, which isn't surprising since I've loved EVERY book written by this author. I will say if you are sensitive about the topic of a pandemic I would skip this one.

I loved how realistic all the characters in this book were. I know they were all at the Juvenile Treatment Center for a specific, not great reason, but I still felt for them. After being left to handle life on their own, I was utterly impressed with how well each character held their positions.

Overall this is one of the best written books I have ever read. I have nothing but amazing things to say about this book. I was not disappointed in the slightest.
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