I was provided with an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you St. Martin’s Press!
Book: Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain
Description: Stand-alone YA contemporary
Publishing Information: Released December 8, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
First Sentence: By the time you return, maybe the end will have come.
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(taken from Goodreads)
From the author of The Good Sister comes a gripping novel about two sisters who learn that there are things in life – love, lose, and self-discovery – that you simply can’t prepare for.
He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man – except for the one that struck.
When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it’s too much to handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling part, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?
Cover Review: Normally I follow the trend of not liking people on covers, but I think this cover is really well-done. It’s woodsy, and so is the book. The ripped paper under the words is pretty dramatic and cool, too.
I was really interested to pick up this book. I haven’t read The Good Sister by this author (although I plan to), and this synopsis really intrigued me! I thought it was a really unique premise.
I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t blown away. I really enjoyed the writing style, which read very smoothly and beautiful – that element makes me excited to pick up more of this author’s work in the future.
However, I had a really, really hard time connecting with the characters in this book. It’s not that they were unlikeable (although some of them intentionally were), I just couldn’t relate to them or get really attached to what was going on in their lives for some reason. The book was told in multiple perspectives, and I honestly don’t think it needed to be. Most of the perspectives – other than Nicole’s – were rarely visited each and didn’t add very many new or needed viewpoints to the story.
I did appreciate Nicole’s character, however. She remained really smart during a tough time and didn’t do stupid things just for the sake of doing stupid things, as many YA characters seem to.
There were also many elements in this book that I wish had been explored more. The ending didn’t really satisfy me. There was still so much tension in certain situations and I didn’t want it to be over because I wasn’t confident that the characters were okay. I wanted to hear them yell at each other and work out all these issues that came up. The middle seemed like there was so much build-up, and then it ended.
Going along with that, I feel like there could’ve been so many side plots incorporated. Like, Nicole’s dad wrote a survival guide book called Instructions for the End of the World (hence, the title of this book), but it was literally only mentioned once. It would’ve been really cool to see that book included more in the plot of this one, even if that just involved quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Also, the setting of this story is a very unique town for many reasons, but the reasons behind the creation of this peace-focused village were never really explored, and the often-mentioned leader of it was never formally introduced or explained. It made it hard to be completely sure of what was going on and what was going to be relevant.
There was obviously a romance element in this book, but I didn’t love it as much as I normally love YA romances. It was certainly insta-love, which isn’t an always bad thing, but it bothered me that both characters were “just drawn to each other”. Okay, but why? Wolf was certainly an interesting character, though. I would’ve liked to hear more of his perspective and backstory.
While I didn’t love this book as much as I hoped to, it was still entertaining. The style of writing was enjoyable, so I’m certainly not opposed to picking up more of this author’s work after reading this one. Most of my dislikes were personal thing: just not clicking with the characters and wanting more of things that really interested me. If this book sounds interesting to you, maybe you should pick it up! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.