Cover Image: At the End of Everything

At the End of Everything

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Member Reviews

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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A group of diverse teens in a residential rehabilitation center are abandoned by the staff when a respiratory plague sweeps the globe. They aren't necessarily safe where they are, but aren't safe to leave either. Some of the most engaging aspects of the book were the elements of the past year and a half that were so recognizable: supply chain disruption, stay-at-home orders, masking, essential workers risking themselves, people that don't believe the virus exists, etc. I don't much YA, but I was really impressed with At the End of Everything. Content warning is included for readers to decide if the book is a fit for them.

Thank you to Sourcebooks FIRE and Netgalley for digital copy for review.
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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

I had to force myself to read the whole thing. It was very slow and very drawn out. Nothing really ever happened.

Kids are abandoned at a youth home in the midst of a Stephen King like pandemic. None of the characters were particularly memorable. Their names went with their personalities.
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An emotional read. When a plague breaks out around the world, the teenagers at hope juvenile treatment centre are forgotten about. They have committed crimes but are detained whilst they are rehabilitated - but now the guards and those in charge have disappeared. As food shortages appear, the internet connection breaks down and groups decide to see what’s happening outside of the centre - the story follows a few of these teens as they adapt to their new normal. 

I found it difficult to read at times - it was apocalyptic and yet seemed too close to current world events. I loved the diversity of the main characters and the insight into the relationships the teens had with their families back home, as they struggled to communicate and find out whether they were still alive. Great book for teenagers to read but I would have liked to have seen more plot features than internal / thought dialogue.
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In this story a group of misfits at a detention center are left for dead when a pandemic breaks lose. This book was a Lord of the Flies meets Outbreak scenario with more empathic characters. I thought the premise was interesting, but in the end I just wasn’t able to really get to know any of the characters. Even when the main character dies I didn’t feel very bad about it. It was a quick read, but I would have liked more of a connection to the characters or the plot.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this book!

At The End Of Everything is book about a group of teens living in a home for troubled youth. After being abandoned by their superiors when a plague strikes the world, the group is left to fend for themselves with very few resources and a lot of bad attitudes. 

I really wanted to love this book, but a few things fell pretty short for me. While there were some heartwarming moments with the characters, I didn’t find myself really connecting with any of them. Aside from the few main POV characters, none of them stood out enough for me to even keep track of. 

The plot itself was sturdy enough, and the representation was great. While the timing on reading a plague book is not ideal, I think this book definitely has some qualities that make it worth reading.
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Well the queen of YA/Suspense books has done it again!!! At The End Of Everything is an amazing story. This one grabbed me from chapter one and I just couldn’t put it down. It will be a hit with all ages and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next.
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At The End of Everything is an outstanding book. I was gripped by the story and the characters, especially how the reader gets to know the characters as the story unfolds,  and how the human truth of what is allegedly a group of juvenile criminals is revealed.

The setting is a juvenile detention center in the middle of nowhere, where supposedly irredeemable teenage “criminals” (not every resident has actually committed a crime, although many have - the Center is also a place where homeless children or young people kicked out of their homes by their parents) have been sent for their last chance to become “productive members of society” (please note, I use quotation marks not because I am quoting the book but because I have trouble with certain concepts and values  that the society internal and external to the Center adhere to). The Center is woefully understaffed in terms of people who might actually help the residents; while there is an abundance of guards, there is a paucity of social workers, psychotherapists, and no vocational training whatsoever. The residents are treating poorly and they often fight with each other. The Center has a well-defined caste system, with a warden at the top of the heap and the residents at the bottom, where they are treated like refuse.

Things change all of a sudden. One resident’s therapist packs up all her stuff and leaves in the middle of a session. One by one, the guards leave, followed, finally, by the warden. Not a word is said to the residents, who are, technically, now free, except there really is nowhere to go. Eventually, a group of scouts form and make their way through the woods to the boundary of the nearest town. There they are met by armed soldiers who say that there is a terrible pandemic raging in the world, and that they will shoot to kill anyone who dares to leave. Which, sadly, they do. 

Somehow the students manage to survive on their own, although a lot of them die from the illness. They are forced to forge alliances with each other and work out an equitable distribution of tasks. One young man discovers that the warden’s computer works, and he finds out what is going on in the world. A couple of girls become adept at trapping and fishing, and stealing what they can to survive.

Of course we are living through a pandemic and there are plenty of books and movies about them. What resonated with me with this book is while a deadly illness is the backdrop for the story, the real story is how these young people learn to drop their defenses and uncover not who they really are as individuals, but learn how to make a functional community from the ashes of dysfunction.

This book is marketed to the YA audience. While that is appropriate, given the ages of the players,it will certainly captivate and grip the adult reader. Highly recommended. 

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.
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*ARC (Advance Review Copy) received via Netgalley.

3.5 out of 5 Stars – Good but not great.

At the End of Everything is a book about a group of teens who reside in a juvenile detention rehabilitation center. When a plague breaks out in the world they find themselves abandoned by the employees for the center.  It goes on to detail the events that unfold once they find out they are free.

The story focuses on three main characters but there are several brought to the forefront of the story as well. I feel that the back stories for the main characters could have been more developed.  Why is Logan considered fragile and “special” by so many Is it simply because she is mute or is it more than that? And why is she mute? It seems to be selective but it never goes into the why. Then there is Emerson who is nonbinary, meaning they don’t identify as either male or female, but it doesn’t go into any detail about it. Grace is the final main character, the one that steps up and really shines. I would have liked to have learned more details to her backstory and the events that brought her to the center.

Overall, At the End of Everything was a good story. It held my attention and I found it to be interesting. I just felt it needed more depth of character and perhaps more focus on some of the relationships between the teens as they struggle to handle their new reality.
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At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp is a timely novel with a unique twist, a school filled with what are considered youth who can be rehabilitated is left with no adult supervision in the midst of a Black Plague pandemic and must fend for itself, finding a structure for their days, food and necessary medical supplies to survive on their own.  However, the author takes a nosedive when she tries to include every type of person in her group of misfits...twins who communicate with each other through a special sign language because only one is verbal, a non binary character, a bully, a smart girl, etc.  By making each person in the group a standout she has made each a stereotype of their genre and hasn't imbued them with much personality or made the reader feel real empathy for them.  The who story was more of a detached telling of events and during the whole reading I felt detached from the events, rather than immersed in them as I usually do when reading novels.  I had hoped for more with such a timely subject.

Thanks to the author, Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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Unfortunately, this book did not hold up to my high expectations I had for it. The premise was SO good, I was stoked! I couldn't wait to dive in. But once I did, I was just left feeling... unsatisfied.

I did like some of the characters and felt like their emotions were true and real. But I felt so overwhelmed sometimes. There was a LOT going on in this book, and I felt like it was a bit disjointed. Also, I was confused why the "treatment" center was more like a jail or prison atmosphere. It didn't make sense to me. I thought it was for rehab? And rehab or treatment for what, exactly? The book doesn't give us a lot to go on with this, nor does it really delve into the reasons of the characters being there. It touches base on it, but I would have liked more.

To me, it felt like it was a huge race to be published so that it could be capitalized on the pandemic we are currently living through. And I am not pointing fingers - but it's happened a LOT with these sorts of books lately. I mean, the teenagers in the book actually do what we are doing now in real life. They are wearing masks, sanitizing things they find, they are even social distancing. Like, I get it... I do, but this is NOT what I expected. 

Also, the first couple of pages is "so and so is a black girl" and then "so and so is a Mexican American" girl and then "we are lesbians" and then "THEY are nonbinary, and THEIR pronouns are they and them.". I mean, okay... diversity is GREAT. Don't get me wrong. I love diversity and I am advocate for it. But there was something EXTREMELY tasteless about how this author basically preached their views in the first few pages. I almost DNF right then and there. I was not impressed. But alas... I pushed on, and really wish I hadn't. I am not pleased with this book.

I will not be owning it nor will I recommend it, sadly. :(
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This book in 3 words: Tragic. Brave. Exciting. 

This is my second book by Marieke Nijkamp and just like the first, this one tore me apart, in the best way. This story features a group of kids at a juvenile facility who are left behind during a pandemic. Let me say, I'm not particularly drawn to books about pandemics, ever since being in one, but the combination of the description and author intrigued me. I do think this is a tough plot for many and readers may be hesitant. But I'm here to tell you, if you can pick this up, I THINK IT WILL BE WORTH IT. 

I thought this book was well-done. The characters were brief, but beautifully crafted. Kudos to the author for one of the most inclusive roster of characters I've read in a while. 

The story is a bit dark (and a bit of a trigger for me personally... hands up for anxiety) but I still found myself invested. I read most of this in a single sitting, in my uncomfortable kitchen chair, because I so badly wanted to know what was coming next. This book takes a look at humanity, people who are "good" and "bad", and challenges thoughts and preconceived notions. 

I think the author did a stellar job of approaching this subject matter and found a way to keep pulling at the reader. If you're ready for a book about a pandemic, or just about people rallying together to take care of one another, I recommend this one.
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At the End of Everything is a new novel from the author of This is Where it Ends. The novel starts off in a juvenile treatment center, ironically called Hope. The teenagers there are all in for various reasons, although no one (besides the employees of the center) knows why each teen is there. The days in the center are very structured and orderly. So much so, that when the guards start to act strange, a couple of the teens take notice.

Then one day, the guards (as well as all the other employees) don’t show up and the teens are left by themselves. With no one there to stop them, a group of the teens decide to leave the facility, only to encounter a group of soldiers, who turn them back to the center because a deadly disease is spreading throughout the country. With limited supplies and the disease already within the walls of Hope, the teens struggle to survive in a world where no one seems to want them.

I really wanted to love this novel. However, I just felt like it was rushed to get published and to capitalize on the current pandemic. (While the author may not have intentionally done this, it is how I feel.) The characters are very cliche. There’s the smart one, the bully, the different one, the quiet one, the one that makes poor decisions, and many more. While we don’t really know why everyone is in the detention center, we know why the three main characters are in. Grace (the smart one) is in because her foster brother attacked someone and she tried to stop him. Logan (the quiet one {selective mute}) is in with her twin sister for starting a fire that killed a person. Emerson is in because they are gender fluid and got kicked out of their house. Other characters are mentioned, along with what they supposedly did to get in the center, but they too are cliche. The author made it a point in the author’s note to say she didn’t want to add to the racial inequalities, so she kept the main characters white. I can appreciate that, but that left very little diversity among the main characters.

So that brings me to the “treatment center" itself. It’s in the middle of the Ozarks and the people nearby don’t want to have anything to do with it. It fronts as a place to rehabilitate the teens in order for them to be productive members of society, but the way the center is described, it's more of a prison than a rehabilitation center.

The idea of a mutation of the Black Plague is different, but given the current variation of the COVID-19 virus, it's not very creative. The teens social distance, wear masks, and even wipe down goods they scavenge from the nearby town. I understand this is the best way to prevent the disease from spreading, but again, being in the middle of the pandemic still, something feels off.

Overall, I just didn't like this novel. I didn't feel any connection to the characters. At the end, when one of the main characters dies, I don't even feel sad, especially given all they sacrificed to try to save the others.  Yes, there were some good moments, like when all the teens took up a job within the center to keep it running, but those moments are few and far between. The ultimate sacrifice at the end could have been great and could have been really heartwarming IF the character was likable.

I give this novel 3.5 stars.

Thank you to Netgallery and Sourcebooks for this advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the digitarl ARC. My opinions are only my own. I am sorry to say that this was an absolute fail for me. I know my teen daughter has liked this author so I wanted to try but there was something about the writing that felt very clunky and did not flow naturally. It also seemed that in trying to be inclusive with the characters (which is admirable) because the author was trying so hard, it did not come through as genuine, it just felt cut and pasted. I think it is a much more natural flow to have things be revealed about characters as it is necessary to the story. To obviously state, "this character is non0binary, watch" or this character is "special needs" just was terrible. Many other elements seemed very obvious and hitting every trope. I am truly sorry I didn't enjoy it.
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