Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Title: This is Where the World Ends
Author: Amy Zhang
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Greenwillow via Edelweiss

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance in a second novel.
Review by Nara

This is Where the World Ends was a book that I was really looking forward to. Mostly because of how much I enjoyed Amy Zhang's debut novel, Falling Into Place. That novel was beautifully written, had a compelling plot and interesting narrator, and touched on a lot of issues that are relevant to the young adults of today. Unfortunately, I have to say that This is Where the World Ends disappointed me somewhat on most aspects, and this was probably worsened by the fact that I was constantly comparing it to Falling Into Place.

The plot is extremely confusing at times, in part because the narrator is so unreliable and in part because of the actual way the story is told- it's just all over the place. We have the "present" timeline with Micah narrating and the "past" timeline which is told from Janie's point of view. I think normally this would have worked, but because of the nature of Micah's unreliability, it was kind of hard to keep track of what was happening.

So we know that the book is about why Janie disappeared. But more than that, it's about Janie and Micah's friendship and the tragic sequence of events that led to her going missing. This friendship was, to be frank, completely toxic. Janie basically treats Micah like a doormat, hanging out with him only when it suits her. She says that he's her "soulmate" but that she's free to date other people before finally ending up with him. I honestly didn't understand her at all. Why would you hide your friendship like that from the entire school? Why would you date such a jerk? I couldn't empathise with her, and that's probably the main reason why this book got rated down.

The writing itself is absolutely beautiful, as you'd expect from the writer of Falling Into Place. One thing I really liked was the small excerpts from Janie's diary, which were like small fairy tale-style stories about Janie and Micah's relationship.

Overall, I would probably still recommend the book if you're looking for a strange and interesting take on mental health and friendship. But I would definitely recommend Falling Into Place more strongly.

Liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4.5/5