By Emily Barr
Print Length: 320 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Release Date: May 6, 2021
Available for pre-order on Amazon
Special thanks to Penguin and theWriteReads for providing me with an ARC and allowing me to participate in this book tour.
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 . . . ? (Goodreads)
Things to Do Before the End of the World is a truly unexpected read that manages to exceed expectations by breaking out of genre norms. Barr manages to fit a coming-of-age story and thriller all into a book about the end of the world. All of which the author manages to do very well.
It’s evident from the beginning that this book’s primary themes revolve around the main character growing into herself under the most unique of circumstances. One concept repeated throughout this book is that going outside your comfort can sometimes help you live your best life. And, while doing so, you can manage to become more of the person you’re meant to be.
Taking that into consideration, and with the context of the world ending, this book was definitely in danger of falling into the realm of cliche. About one third of the way through the book though, you discover the secondary plot that sort of seems to come out of nowhere. This storyline is truly what adds the flavour to this book, pulling it out of genre-specific expectations set up by the prevailing circumstances of the story.
While this does prove to work in this book’s favour, it can be off-putting to some. At times it feels as though the book isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, which can detract from the intentions and layers of the story. It was a risky decision on behalf of the author, one with the potential to have a great pay off for unexpecting readers.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book and for those who may want something a little different, this is the book for you. This is one of those classic situations of don’t judge a book by it’s cover (or title).