Okay. Amy Zhang is an amazingly talented writer, but that doesn’t meant that she’s immune to writing bad books. This Is Where the World Ends features one of the most annoying and frustrating characters I’ve seen in a long time – Janie.
All throughout the book, through the flashbacks we get, Janie treats Micah incredibly badly. She rocks up at his house late at night, grabs him and gets him to drive her somewhere. And that’s normal. Micah – poor Micah – who is badly in love with Janie, simply goes along with it (oh, and she knows very well that he’s in love with her, but still goes around having flings with the jocks).
They’ve been friends with each other for a very long time – but nobody knows it. Why? Because Janie insisted they make a pact when they were young that they should never ever interact at school – they should pretend like the other didn’t exist. Because that’s the kind of wonderful, kind, loving friend she is.
The book essentially revolves completely around Janie – hard to do when she doesn’t make an appearance in real life, but Zhang’s writing prowess with flashbacks, as already proved in Falling Into Place easily tackles these obstacles.
The ending was not only unsatisfactory, but abrupt and predictable. From the fourth chapter or so, it become obvious (to me, at least) what had happened – and so it wasn’t shocking at all when the reader was finally told.
But while Janie herself was VERY unlikable (she’s like the worse, lesser known cousin of Zelda from Thanks for the Trouble in the family of larger than life characters), and the ending was frustrating, I still enjoyed the book – mostly because of the writing style.
Zhang’s style is actually fairly distinctive – like a cross between E. Lockhart (We Were Liars), John Green (TFIOS, Paper Towns, etc) and Rainbow Rowell (Carry On, Fangirl), except much darker. It’s nicely paced, and the flashbacks and scenes from the past are executed perfectly – flashbacks are probably Zhang’s strongest writing feature.
So, in conclusion, while it did have it’s shortcomings, This Is Where the World Ends is still an enjoyable book. Next, I would like Zhang to try something different, that doesn’t fall into the genre of “dark teenage novel”. Perhaps something lighter – I’m thinking something more romance-focused, like Eleanor and Park. What do you think?
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
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.