|| Book Review || Things To Do Before The End of the World by Emily Barr
Published: May 13th 2021
Genre: YA, Thriller
Timely and powerful; the new coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.
One minute you’re walking in the park, hiding from a party. Then you discover that the next nine months will probably be your last. Everyone’s last. You realise that you happen to be alive at the time when your species becomes extinct.
You have to decide whether to go with it meekly like you usually do, or to do something brave, to live your last months with all the energy and bravery you can muster, to rage against the dying of the light.
Olivia struggles to live her real life as fully as she wants to. She plans out conversations and events in her head but actually doing them and interacting with other people is hard. When the news breaks that humans have done such damage to the earth that there’s only nine months of safe air left everybody makes bucket lists and starts living their best lives – everyone, that is, but Olivia who is still struggling to figure out who she wants to be.
Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know exsisted. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for their last summer on earth Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having a effect on her. But what if Natasha isn’t everything she first appears to be . . . ?
Thank you very much to Dave @TheWriteReads, the author and the publisher for my gifted copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
So where do I begin with this one?
First off I think it’s really important to note for anyone considering picking this up that the blurb and cover really don’t give the best idea of what this book is actually about.
If you are looking for a good end of the world story, this really isn’t it.
I am not even sure I would consider it to be a real thriller… I don’t know exactly what this is. That probably sounds quite negative but I want to make it clear that I did actually like this book quite a lot.
The concept behind it is really good, the pace is fast and I honestly breezed through the book so quickly and really enjoyed it.
So we have our main character, Olivia/Libby. She is pathologically shy with seriously bad social anxiety.
She wants to do so many things but feels held back by her own social issues.
One day she is sitting in the park when NEWSFLASH, severe weather changes are melting the ice caps and some poison gas or “creep” as it becomes known is being released into the atmosphere and it is predicated that in 9 months time humans will no longer have air to breath and it will basically be the end of the world.
This sounds terrifying right? What would you do if you knew you had less than a year to live? What would the world do?
Personally I predict that there would be mass panic, hysteria, the breakdown of society as we know it.
People wouldn’t go to work or school, there would be mass violence and it would just be bad. That’s how I picture it anyway.
In this book though once the initial bombshell about the end of the world is dropped, thats pretty much it.
I don’t know if the world is just living in denial but life pretty much carries on as normal with most people continuing with work and normal every day stuff. It’s really weird and not what I expected.
So moving on Libby is pretty freaked out and decides that she wants to make the most of the time she has left. She really struggles though and I think as a person who is quite shy myself I totally related to her struggles.
The book shortly introduces Natasha, a long lost cousin that Libby didn’t know she had who is basically the polar opposite. She is bubbly and confident and a lot of fun.
Libby befriends her via email but never expects to be able to meet her and so feels comfortable talking about herself and her life and it helps her to cope with the impending end of the world.
It’s summer though and Libby’s mum decides to take a long holiday with the family to Spain to enjoy their last few months and Libby decides to go with her of course and amazingly Natasha ends up in Spain too and by this point you’re about halfway through the book and not a whole lot has really happened but you feel like you know Libby pretty well and you want her to be able to come out of her shell and travel and see places and do things, you don’t want her life to end with regret.
So when Natasha arrives in Spain too you really start to root for these two young girls and its lovely to see how their friendship blossoms but at the back of your mind you can’t help but think that something is not quite right with Natasha, you just don’t know what.
In the last third of the book the pace really picks up and a lot of secrets are revealed and there are a couple of shocks! Before you know it, you’re finished. I mean I basically read it all in one sitting and I have no regrets.
My main criticism is that I don’t know exactly what to label this book as because I did not find it particularly thrilling or exciting but it was different, interesting and fun. It was more about Libby and Natasha than it was about the end of the world. Not what I expected but still a good read!
About the Author
I started out working as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. I managed, somehow, to get commissioned to go travelling for a year, and came home with the beginnings of a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, a thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and I have since written eleven more novels for adults, one novella, and three book for Young Adults, published in the UK and around the world. I live in Cornwall with my husband Craig and our children.