I love love LOVED “Even if We Break” by Marieke Nijkamp so I was VERY excited to receive AT THE END OF EVERYTHING from NetGalley at no cost which thus resulted in this review. I downloaded this the instant I got it, read a few chapters, took a break to have dinner and hang out with my roommates, and then it was 3am and I was finishing it. It follows the pattern of one of my other favorite books, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer, where a huge event happens (in that book, when an asteroid hits the moon and the tides change completely) and it changes everything, and the government isn’t doing anything so it’s up to the characters to continue to figure out how to live. It’s basically LIFE AS WE KNEW IT smash cut with THE SOCIETY, but it takes place at a juvenile detention center, and the huge event that happens is a pandemic that’s much worse than the one we are currently living through. The feeling of dread that surrounds the entire book reminds me of WILDER GIRLS, which is also about girls surviving in a remote location while terrible things happen.
This story is told through first-person narration of three main characters interspersed with phone conversation transcripts. It’s extremely effective and evocative, especially as more of the characters and residents of the facility succumb to the pandemic. I loved all three of the main characters in this book: Grace, a headstrong girl who just wants a future, Emerson, a nonbinary teen who plays violin, and Logan, who is a nonverbal autistic character, something that I have literally never seen in a book.
Was it rough reading this book during a pandemic, as cases are getting worse and worse? Yeah, a little. But it’s worth it. This ranks as one of my favorite books this year. Five stars. Storygraph link here. Bookshop link here.