Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 46 – Things To Do Before The End Of The World

Dear Readers,

as always: I review the books in English, which I read in English, but it has been a while since I wrote the last one in the English language, so there might be a few more mistakes than usual. Don’t be shy to tell me, if you find any 😉
This is one of my summer-reads (actually my main summer-read, because I didn’t manage to read as much as I wanted to).

Things To Do Before The End Of The World (I’m gonna shorten it to “TtdBtEotW” from now on) was published on May 6th 2021 by Penguin. The paperback comprises 358 pages, you can find it with the ISBN 0241345278. I bought this one for myself in my second-most favorite bookstore at home. Emily Barr is a bestselling author known for writing Young Adult Thriller (I think TtdBtEotW perfectly fits in those genres), maybe you know The One Memory of Flora Banks (2017) or The Truth and Lies of Ella Black (2018).

Plot: 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 . . . ?

After all, I’m not quite sure why I bought the book in first place. I mean, the cover is beautiful with its shiny letters, the blury Paris skyline and its overall mostly red appearance (red is one of my favourite colours, maybe I got influenced more or less subconsciously or something), but I remember going to the bookstore that day with the thought in my head that I really need more queer content in my bookshelf. Though TtdBtEotW actually contains a queer main character that’s basically already it and it isn’t even recognizable from the plot summary on the back or the first pages or something (Which is a good thing regarding the queerness wasn’t used to market it). Well, maybe it was the perspective of the upcoming summer and climate change combined with the pretty cool chapter design – every chapter is named like a thing on a to do list. However, I bought it, read it and reviewed it, here you go:

I really liked the style of writing. Even though I didn’t quite like the plot building (gonna talk about it) the book was still catching and I think that’s mainly because of the engaging and personal writing style. The reader gets to know Olivias (aka Libby) perspective, so it’s like experiencing the story for oneself which makes reading it emotional. Also, I liked the main character herself. I was able to relate to her very well – probably because of my personal experiences of being a shy introvert, not being brave enough to talk to/kiss the human I like and because I know how much guts it takes to travel alone or with people one doesn’t know long enough – though I got a little annoyed with her in the end, it made her appear more human and real, because it didn’t become to much. Frankly, I didn’t quite get her mom till the very end, but that’s alright I guess, it fitted the story. To say one last thing about the characters: Olivias dad and Zoe are great, I really liked them and their development (though I would have loved to read more about Zoes growth).
Coming to the unpleasant part of the review: The reason why I just gave 3 out of 5 stars: The idea behind the plot is gorgeous, I loved reading about what people do, knowing they won’t have long to live on earth, I loved reading about the last summer and I loved reading about Olivias personal growth, but the actual plot wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. The main part of the book is about how Natasha comes into the lives of Libby and her family and creates a big deal of chaos. While reading I got the impression nothing really happend till the last quarter of the book. Of course, the plot twist needs preparation and some things must have happened in order to keep the story going, but it only became thrilling as the book was nearly finished. Also, there have been some pretty obvious hints which lead to an “I told you so”-impression reading the big thrilling point of TtdBtEotW. But nevertheless I liked the ending the most. I enjoyed how the situation was solved and loved reading the last few pages, because they contain big emotions and are written in a philosophical/emotional way. Maybe you know that I always read the first and the last sentence of a book before starting to read it; those two sentences of TtdBtEotW are some of my favourites: “You know when you worry about everything all the time?” “I
breathed.”

In summary, Barrs book was a nice summer-read that made me think about how society would react knowing the world was ending and what I would do with my life, if I got such a message and though the ending was great and I liked the characters, it wasn’t much more than a nice book. But before I leave you with the question what you would wanna do before human life ends on this planet (please feel free to comment if you like, it would really interest me), I’ll give you the List of my Things to do before the end of the world as it stands now.

Visit my brother and his family in Australia (in terms of the book probably with a ship and then stay there till the end). Do a parachute jump. Get at least one tattoo (actually already planned). Tell the girl, that made me realize I’m not straight, how much I like her. Tell the people I love that I love them. Be happy. No need to hide.

To be fair, the last ones are quotes, but my favourite part of TtdBtEotW summarizes it perfectly: “‘They say you should live every day as if it were your last,’ he said, ‘but when it comes down to it that’s not really it, is it? Live every day as if it might not be your last. That kind of works better.’ ‘Live every day as if you had a future.'”

-love, Aly

2 thoughts on “Blog Entry No. 46 – Things To Do Before The End Of The World”

  1. I loved reading your comment and felt like I know the book already – it gave me a really nice summary about it. Things I want to do are: cross the Alps via feet. kiss a boy i like. bake cinnamon roles together with my floor. drinking home-made capuccino in the morning (already doing this, but still it is always really nice).

    Like

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