My dear bookish friends!
I just read the final page of one of my absolute favourite books of the year 2021. I know it’s only May, and I know I will read numerous books in the months to come, but this just was A M A Z I N G!! Turning the digital last page of it in my Kindle, I got actual goosebumps running all over my body – it was THAT good!
Big thank you to Dave at TheWriteReads for my spot on this Ultimate Blog Tour, but also to Penguin and the author, Emily Barr, for my digital review copy in exchange for my honest review which is about to follow – but first comes the synopsis!
What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most? You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?
Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be? Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed.
Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.
But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .
I wouldn’t normally start a review talking about the ending, but for a book with that title it does make sense, doesn’t it? I was wondering from the very beginning, how will this book end? Will it give us what we’re fearing right now, or will everything turn around and be ok in the end? Well, I obviously won’t spoiler right now but what I will say is that I think the ending is absolutely perfect. It gave me goosebumps, yet made me content. I just know that I will think about Things to Do Before the End of the World for quite some time yet!
But let’s go back to the beginning. What would you do if you got the news that you only have about a year left to live – and so does everyone else? That the world is about to go down? Quite a spooky thought if you ask me. It makes my stomach turn, it makes me scared. Humanity has lived through so many scary and possibly life-threatening scenarios – there were world wars, atomic catastrophies, and now we’re living through a pandemic. Every day we have is a gift, and we should treat it as such – but I’m drifting off topic lol.
Olivia – Libby – our heroine here, just got away from a Christmas party at her college when the breaking news hit her – and everyone else’s – phone. I found it very interesting to see her reaction compared to that of the other people around her. While adult men are breaking down crying, Libby is taking the news almost as if… they don’t really concern her. And I think that’s exactly how Libby’s life has been so far. It is as if she’s been detached from it all, and I could feel with her so well, seeing my teenage self in her a bit.
Libby is a great character in what I would say is her coming of age story – when her actual coming of age is stopped by the impending end of the world. I loved Libby’s way of dealing with her problems, her social anxiety the way she did. The impending doom helped her insofar as it turned her decisions that were ‘I’ll do it one day’ before the news of ‘The Creep’ (as people call the disaster that’s about to strike out humanity) suddenly into ‘If I don’t do it now I will never do it’. She was given an ultimatum, and Libby made the most of it. After all, you can only panic for so long when you are given the news that the world ends in a year, before you have to start really living it.
I loved the writing. Author Emily Barr made it into such a personal account, I loved reading Libby’s uncensored thoughts in brackets, it felt like talking to a friend! I loved seeing the character coming out of her shell, even under these circumstances and despite her shyness. Reading about her liberation felt liberating to me too, and every time she managed to talk to strangers or did something else that not long ago would have been very hard, if not impossible, for her, I wanted to high five Libby.
She isn’t the only great character in this book, though. Her best friend Max, the one she barely exchanges more than six words with on a daily basis (they both feel more comfortable typing), her step-mother with the great taste in fancy clothes, her crush Zoe, her new found cousin Natasha, all these are amazing support characters that made this novel into something even more special. I loved that Libby has such a great connection with her family and that they are all so close.
I loved her mum especially. While at first she seemed to turn toward religion as her way to cope with the impending end of the world, she was more of a free spirit and you could tell by the way she soon abandoned her church visits again. I loved how well she knew Libby, and the way she didn’t judge her for being who she is. Libby appreciated her honesty too, and liked that her mother knew and understood her way of thinking, I feel like. Furthermore, Libby’s step father, step-mother, dad, and her two half-siblings were all great, individual characters that added a nice touch to the story, every single one of them.
Libby’s two half-siblings were sweet, funny, loveable little toddlers who, over the course of the story, grow into smart little two-year-olds. It was lovely seeing how much Libby loved being around them, and how she blossomed in these scenes. It made me chuckle how she disregarded her father’s and step-mother’s rules the second they left the house, and how she made her own when it came to her siblings’ wellbeing.
Libby thought she was invisible back then, but she was actually loved by many people. If only she could have seen how special she was! I loved how she turned what she had in her head thinking she would one day possibly, maybe do, into reality. Even if it needed the knowledge that the world would soon come to an end to achieve that. Sometimes you need a little nudge to come out of your shell, and that was certainly a proper nudge that Libby got.
One other character who has a really big impact on the story is Natasha, Libby’s cousin she didn’t know she had. Natasha lives far away, and they will never meet anyway, so why not talk to her, right? Well, not only that seems to turn out much different than Libby expected, there’s also so much more to Natasha… but you will have to read this book yourself in order to find out what that is!!
Things to Do Before the End of the World will be published on 13th May by Penguin. Mark the day in your calendars, you will not want to miss this amazing new YA story!!!
5 stars from me!
Thank you all so much for reading!
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.