A review by Nalini Haynes
Janie and Micah live next door to each other. Micah is a quiet nerd while Janie is a terror, inciting trouble and performing ‘practical jokes’ while dragging Micah in her wake. However, she doesn’t talk to Micah in public. Then there’s a fire. People judge Micah on what they haven’t seen, assuming he’s a stalker. Janie’s disappeared and she’s not talking.
Janie and Micah take turns in telling the story, Janie ‘before’ and Micah ‘after’, with excerpts from Janie’s journal including decorative doodles. This is a lovely touch although is somewhat undermined by the plot: after the journals are burnt, how does anyone read them?
In recent years I’ve read several stories with This Is Where The World Ends‘s plot twist starting with Is Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes, so I anticipated it for most of the novel. In spite of this, Zhang’s unfolding of events was interesting until the climax where I felt she’d dragged it on too long, trying to get too much blood out of a stone. However, this is just one opinion: I can visualize teenage girls reading on the edge of their seats, gasping when Zhang reveals the truth.
This Is Where The World Ends delves into teenage culture with relish, not patronizing its audience. Although I think this is good in principle, there are too few consequences. Teenagers drink to oblivion on a regular basis yet no one suffers alcohol poisoning or more than a bad hangover? A teenager is raped.
She experiences the usual — appalling — consequences of being raped by a popular jock who cries that she cried rape before she cried rape because he knew he raped her. Then he says sorry because he wants more sex. Really? [headdesk]
I was disappointed with the dénouement. I felt ripped off as our heroes walk off into the sunset with trite comments. I’m also not convinced that the right person would have been blamed for arson due to the destruction of evidence.
This Is Where The World Ends is a good angst-ridden YA story about teenagers in high school. Avid readers will probably recognize the tropes well before the big reveal but teenagers may experience a revelation. Consequences are too little explored and yet people have to live with what they’ve done while making trite comments about ‘doing better next time’. I’m giving This Is Where The World Ends 3 stars although I suspect that, when my daughter was a teenager, she would have given it 5 stars.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
ISBN 10: 0062417878
Format: paperback, 304 pages