Honest and lively YA book reviews
I almost didn't continue with The End of Everything after reading the first page ... The first page! I'll share with you what nearly made me hurl this book from the window of my third storey apartment into oncoming traffic ...
"She, light streaky out of the corner of my eye." What is that ?!! What kind of an opening sentence is that ?!! That's pretentious, gimmicky and irritating, that's what that is! Honestly, I rolled my eyes so hard at that sentence I almost lost them inside my head. Please, if you want to grab readers on the first page don't write a choppy, grating description of kids playing in the street so jarring it makes my eyes water (bearing in mind my eyes are now buried in my head so now I have water on the brain. Thank you for that Megan Abbott ... )
As for the rest of the book ... After that doubtful start, the novel unravelled into the story of two 13 year old best friends, Lizzie and Evie. Evie gets supposedly kidnapped and the whole town goes on the hunt for the pervert who surely stole her. A whole lotta shit goes down as secrets are uncovered and Lizzie discovers that maybe she didn't know her best friend as well as she thought, and maybe she has a lot more to learn about the world than she imagined.
The End of Everything is narrated by Lizzie and Megan Abbott does get her voice bang on. Lizzie is naive, selfish and optimistic enough to be a very believable 13 year old girl. She has yet to have the weight of the world crush her spirit and sets out to find out the truth about what happened to her best friend herself. She is childish enough to enjoy the attention she receives for being at the centre of the tragedy but mature enough to realise that it won't be put right by sitting around wishing and hoping.
The story has a rather disturbing undercurrent throughout coming into the open with the revelation near the end. I did not expect nor enjoy this turn of events. It goes that Evie willingly went with her "kidnapper" enjoying the attention and excitement of what she perceived to be a relationship with an older man. A picture is painted of Evie living in the shadow of her older sister, Dusty and being attention starved by her father. Megan Abbott proposed that this is what drove Evie into the arms of the pervert who she ran away with.
I'm sure Ms Abbot did not intend for her book to suggest that it is the fault of the victim when a young girl is groomed, brainwashed and kidnapped by a pedophile but it certainly came off like that. I did not feel like it was made clear that a young, naive little girl can never be blamed for the twisted actions of a responsible adult and that this is never as cut and dry as oh, she didn't get enough attention from her father so she began an almost sexual relationship with a man of a similar age. Please! There are so many more complex emotions, reasons and situations going on behind an incident like this. The whole debacle was dealt with far too lightly.
I can't say I enjoyed The End of Everything but it was beautiful written for the most part (not counting that dire first page!) and the characters were well developed and believable. A solid three stars.