News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.
True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.
Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.
With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.
Warnings: mention of suicide attempt, active shooter, physical violence, mentions of racial violence, mentions of homophobia
The End is Nigh! says the book, and proceeds to tell us the story of three teens who, facing the possibility of the end of the world, have things that they need to do. And no, they aren’t saving the world from the all-powerful alien race from the planet Alma, who have been supervising Earth and now are deliberating if the human race is worth saving. With the background of a pre-apocalyptic scenario, the main focus of the story is what happens when life as you know it is going to end in seven days? What would you do? What becomes important to do? The three protagonists of this story – Jesse, Cate and Adeem – all grow through the book, and even with an open ending, that is what truly gives the book its proper conclusion.
Jesse lives in Roswell and he is over the whole alien nonsense. In fact, he doesn’t even believe that the threat from Alma is real. He has bills to pay and an eviction notice to evade, and with a hard life behind and ahead of him, he is focused on how to make it slightly better for his mom. He is also depressed, so trusting in things and hope doesn’t exactly come easy for him, and his rage against his father for leaving them with debts drives most of his decisions. Cate and Adeem are both seeking people – her father and his estranged sister, respectively – and on the way to Roswell, their paths intersect. A rough road trip leads them to question their reasons for going, their relationships with their families, their very wants. Cate, who has been taking charge of her house for a long time, and Adeem, who has complicated feelings about his sister and his own potential, have themselves to find. The people in this story meet in very surprising ways, and the characters are often brought together by fate, but they also have brought themselves to that point.
Family and relationships is a big part of the story – even as the characters are going on in their personal arcs, you can see how for other people too, reconciliation and reaching out is one of the things that drive them. But it is not all fluffy feelings – the danger is still there, there are still people wreaking havoc, some people causing pain, and it all collectively speaks to humanity, as Alma itself decides on whether humanity is worth it, through transcripts of an ongoing trial. The writing is fluid, and takes us through the voices of the different characters well, bringing out the various emotions experienced by the characters in all their complicated mess. The alien trial thing was kinda in the background, and honestly, mid-way I even stopped caring what was going on over there. At the end, the message is pretty cliche, though, as always – humanity is bad and good, both, and sometimes you just gotta hope that the good is outdoing the bad in the world.
Overall, a beautifully written exploration of relationships, and the things that matter at the end of the world.
Is it diverse? OwnVoices Pakistani-American rep, queer main character with depression, schizophrenic secondary characters; lesbian secondary characters
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Teen, via Edelweiss.
Releases on October 22, 2019