Book Review: This is Where the World Ends, by Amy Zhang

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_this_is_where_the_world_endsThis is Where the World Ends is not by any means a light read. It is written in two time streams: before and after, and is split between two narrators: Janie (before) and Micah (after). Micah and Janie have been friends since primary school, but it is an unsteady friendship, a covert friendship. Although they are neighbours and hang out in the evenings, they never associate during the school day. Janie is outgoing and idealistic, Micah shy and more reserved. We meet Micah ‘after’, after an event that left him concussed and confused, unable to hold onto any memory for long. We are introduced to Janie through her diary, her fractured fairy tales, which tell a darker tale than they suggest.

This is not a story about hope. From the first pages, there is a sense of bleak pervading the pages. While we do not know precisely what has happened to Janie, nor how Micah received his concussion, we do know that things are not going to end well. And as the story continues, more, darker truths are unveiled. There is something almost voyeuristic about this unfurling doom, a dark curiosity that drew me on, and on. And things spiral further down as we learn about what actually happened to Janie, and how her will was shattered. Not only by one thoughtless, heartless, drunken act, but also by the reaction of her peers.

This may be quite a depressing read but it is, I think, an important one for teenagers. Not only does it show the importance of friendship (although one must wonder how good a friend Janie really was to Micah, given the covert nature of said friendship), it also shows how damaging words can be, especially to someone who has already suffered through what is one of the worst things that can happen to a teenage girl. Words can, in fact, kill, as surely as actions.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

This is Where the World Ends
by Amy Zhang
Published by Greenwillow Books
ISBN 9780062417879

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