The Day the World Ended by Anna O'Hare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Okay, confession time. I haven’t read many indies. When I first started publishing, I did a few review swaps, but that made me very uncomfortable. First off, I don’t like to write bad reviews, and since I know how hard it is for indie authors, I’m even more hesitant to add a bad review, even if it is deserving. Secondly, there’s the fear of retribution when you’re trading reviews. So, after trading 3 or 4 reviews, I’d had enough. This came about for two reasons, the main one being I received a book that was riddled with typos and just plain bad—it looked like the author published a first draft. I was left struggling to find something nice to say beyond, “I’m sorry I’m not going to review your book because it should never have been published,” or “Please for the sake of other indie authors, hire an editor or bribe an English teacher, or at least learn to use spell check. You’re making us all look bad.”
However, that’s a silly reason not to read indies (though I will not be trading reviews probably ever). Since I’m an indie author, it seems traitorous not to read other indies. So, after seeing a thread on Goodreads asking for reviews, I discovered this little gem (free on Smashwords, and more than worth your time). I will admit, I was a little hesitant to read something that’s supposed to be ya sci-fi (burned out on the genre), but I lost all reservations as I devoured the first chapters without pause. Because the end of the world here is simply a catalyst. It’s not the focus of the story, but what drives each story.
This book is about three groups of kids who are waiting for the end of the world (which is happening in a few days). What would you do if the world was ending in four days? Would you go find an abandoned house and make it your hideout, so you and your friends could hang out there, eat junk food and watch TV, have food fights, and be together? Would you seek revenge on a group of bullies who killed a classmate? Would you formulate a plan to break in to you rival high school and hang your school’s banner from the roof?
Each story drew me in. At first, I liked the story of the younger kids in the abandoned house the most. I liked how they kept their morals and didn’t succumb to anarchy. They had a food fight, but then they cleaned up the house, because if they were going to hang out there for the next few days, they wanted it nice. I hurried through some of the sections about the other kids so I could get back to this group. (view spoiler)[ Then, at the end, when they found the old woman and took care of her, I had all new respect for them. They all wanted to spend the end of the world together, and they did…along with a dead body. I did want to hear a bit about her, but I liked how a bit in each story was never answered. (hide spoiler)] Their story felt the most complete to me.
The second storyline is about a girl, her little brother, and her cousin, who idolizes her, seeking revenge on some bullies. I would have liked if the boy the bullies killed had been Grace’s friend or crush, so that she had a reason for wanting to seek revenge so much. It seemed a bit odd that she just decided to dole out the punishment on behalf of some kid she’d only talked to one time. This storyline ended up feeling a bit weird to me. Still, it drew me in enough that I’d always want to keep reading to find out what revenge she’d dole out to the next boy, as her punishments grow increasingly alarming as the story goes on, until you realize that Grace is a complete psychopath. I kept waiting for her companions to stand up to her and realize she’s lost it and say no, they’re not going to go through with her escalating terror. Because it soon becomes apparent that Grace is a huge bully herself—not only to the boys she’s seeking revenge against, but to her little brother and cousin, too. (view spoiler)[ But when they finally stood up to her, and her cousin puts his arms around the little brother and says he’ll be there with him at the end, I burst into tears. (Okay, so maybe I have a soft spot for stories about brotherly love, but it was still sweet). (hide spoiler)]
The third story, about the group of poor high school kids, started out as the one that didn’t grab my immediate interest, but ended up being my favorite. I didn’t like it at first because I didn’t like the main character, who is a teenager who is good at everything, has life all figured out, and is completely at peace. Which I don’t believe exists. But, as the story went on and the characters developed, I really enjoyed it. All the schools have closed, since the world is ending, except the poor kids’ school, because they don’t have anywhere else to go (perfect!) I loved their two teachers, and the weird morose kid, the snarky girl, the perfect couple, etc. All the characters came alive and seemed exactly like real people you’d know at a high school. (view spoiler)[ I was hoping Christian would come to realize he didn’t have life all figured out, but he never does. Still, as they sit on the roof singing, waiting for the world to end, it was absolutely perfect. (hide spoiler)]
For a grammar nazi like me, I can’t read a book without noticing the mistakes, even in traditionally published books. There were a few in here, but the story was so compulsively readable that they were easily overlooked. I’m so used to editing that any mistake tends to jump out at me. There were a few times when I wasn’t sure if something was a mistake or British slang. Overall, the grammar was fine and the mistakes were few.
The storyline was easy to follow and addictive. I was reading this on my phone as I walked at the track every day, and I’d find myself reading it as I walked to my car afterwards, sometimes sitting in my car reading a few more minutes because I was at an exciting part and couldn’t stop reading.
The characters were mostly well-developed, at least the main players. Since the three stories have different characters, and some have dozens, obviously all are not completely rounded, but every character is unique and wonderful. Overall, this was a fast-paced character focused YA that would appeal to readers of sci-fi as well as contemporary YA. And if you hurry, it’s free on Smashwords (if you aren’t familiar, you should be—they format for download to any device), so grab it while you can, because it’s a steal.
View all my reviews