Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 46 – Things To Do Before The End Of The World

Dear Readers,

as always: I review the books in English, which I read in English, but it has been a while since I wrote the last one in the English language, so there might be a few more mistakes than usual. Don’t be shy to tell me, if you find any 😉
This is one of my summer-reads (actually my main summer-read, because I didn’t manage to read as much as I wanted to).

Things To Do Before The End Of The World (I’m gonna shorten it to „TtdBtEotW“ from now on) was published on May 6th 2021 by Penguin. The paperback comprises 358 pages, you can find it with the ISBN 0241345278. I bought this one for myself in my second-most favorite bookstore at home. Emily Barr is a bestselling author known for writing Young Adult Thriller (I think TtdBtEotW perfectly fits in those genres), maybe you know The One Memory of Flora Banks (2017) or The Truth and Lies of Ella Black (2018).

Plot: One minute you’re walking in the park, hiding from a party. Then you discover that the next nine months will probably be your last. Everyone’s last. You realise that you happen to be alive at the time when your species becomes extinct.
You have to decide whether to go with it meekly like you usually do, or to do something brave, to live your last months with all the energy and bravery you can muster, to rage against the dying of the light.

Olivia struggles to live her real life as fully as she wants to. She plans out conversations and events in her head but actually doing them and interacting with other people is hard. When the news breaks that humans have done such damage to the earth that there’s only nine months of safe air left everybody makes bucket lists and starts living their best lives – everyone, that is, but Olivia who is still struggling to figure out who she wants to be.
Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know exsisted. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for their last summer on earth Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having a effect on her. But what if Natasha isn’t everything she first appears to be . . . ?

After all, I’m not quite sure why I bought the book in first place. I mean, the cover is beautiful with its shiny letters, the blury Paris skyline and its overall mostly red appearance (red is one of my favourite colours, maybe I got influenced more or less subconsciously or something), but I remember going to the bookstore that day with the thought in my head that I really need more queer content in my bookshelf. Though TtdBtEotW actually contains a queer main character that’s basically already it and it isn’t even recognizable from the plot summary on the back or the first pages or something (Which is a good thing regarding the queerness wasn’t used to market it). Well, maybe it was the perspective of the upcoming summer and climate change combined with the pretty cool chapter design – every chapter is named like a thing on a to do list. However, I bought it, read it and reviewed it, here you go:

I really liked the style of writing. Even though I didn’t quite like the plot building (gonna talk about it) the book was still catching and I think that’s mainly because of the engaging and personal writing style. The reader gets to know Olivias (aka Libby) perspective, so it’s like experiencing the story for oneself which makes reading it emotional. Also, I liked the main character herself. I was able to relate to her very well – probably because of my personal experiences of being a shy introvert, not being brave enough to talk to/kiss the human I like and because I know how much guts it takes to travel alone or with people one doesn’t know long enough – though I got a little annoyed with her in the end, it made her appear more human and real, because it didn’t become to much. Frankly, I didn’t quite get her mom till the very end, but that’s alright I guess, it fitted the story. To say one last thing about the characters: Olivias dad and Zoe are great, I really liked them and their development (though I would have loved to read more about Zoes growth).
Coming to the unpleasant part of the review: The reason why I just gave 3 out of 5 stars: The idea behind the plot is gorgeous, I loved reading about what people do, knowing they won’t have long to live on earth, I loved reading about the last summer and I loved reading about Olivias personal growth, but the actual plot wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. The main part of the book is about how Natasha comes into the lives of Libby and her family and creates a big deal of chaos. While reading I got the impression nothing really happend till the last quarter of the book. Of course, the plot twist needs preparation and some things must have happened in order to keep the story going, but it only became thrilling as the book was nearly finished. Also, there have been some pretty obvious hints which lead to an „I told you so“-impression reading the big thrilling point of TtdBtEotW. But nevertheless I liked the ending the most. I enjoyed how the situation was solved and loved reading the last few pages, because they contain big emotions and are written in a philosophical/emotional way. Maybe you know that I always read the first and the last sentence of a book before starting to read it; those two sentences of TtdBtEotW are some of my favourites: „You know when you worry about everything all the time?“ „I
breathed.“

In summary, Barrs book was a nice summer-read that made me think about how society would react knowing the world was ending and what I would do with my life, if I got such a message and though the ending was great and I liked the characters, it wasn’t much more than a nice book. But before I leave you with the question what you would wanna do before human life ends on this planet (please feel free to comment if you like, it would really interest me), I’ll give you the List of my Things to do before the end of the world as it stands now.

Visit my brother and his family in Australia (in terms of the book probably with a ship and then stay there till the end). Do a parachute jump. Get at least one tattoo (actually already planned). Tell the girl, that made me realize I’m not straight, how much I like her. Tell the people I love that I love them. Be happy. No need to hide.

To be fair, the last ones are quotes, but my favourite part of TtdBtEotW summarizes it perfectly: „‚They say you should live every day as if it were your last,‘ he said, ‚but when it comes down to it that’s not really it, is it? Live every day as if it might not be your last. That kind of works better.‘ ‚Live every day as if you had a future.'“

-love, Aly

Blog, Reviews

Blog Entry No. 11 – Genex of Halcyon

Dear Readers,

the review of this week will be rather short. For one part that’s because currently I have much work to do and for the other part it’s because I got this book from the online book club (OnlineBookClub.org) to read and review it. I’m not allowed to repost the review anywhere, so I will write a short and slightly different one for my blog and a longer, more detailed one for the online book club, where you can read it too soon.

„Genex of Halcyon“ is a science-fiction novel describing a near-future utopia written by Joshua Stelling. The book was firstly published on 24th of September in 2019 by Arch Gravity Publishing. You find it under the ISBN 9780692184271.

The cover is quite dark and oppressive, the flowerlike plants in the front spend the only warm colour. As the title and author are written in a very simple style it builds an interesting contrast to the in some ways chaotic background. Though there is a light shining from far away, it seems like the cover of a dystopia. My interpretation of the cover supports the thesis that there is a little good in every bad situation, which would fit some philosophical statements explained by some characters in the book. Overall it’s maybe not the most welcoming start of a book, but it portrays the content pretty well I think.

Portraying a possible version of our future in about thirty years, Stelling created a complex social story around two to three main characters. Reading the first chapters I was mostly confused about the plot because he switched between perspectives very often. It makes it hard to understand all connections at the beginning but makes it interesting for rereading. The fiction covers a large number of interesting topics like love, death, the sense of life, betrayal, the way how minorities get treated and how to deal with no privacy for more security. Climate change and astronomy have been relevant as well, which increased the motivation to read it for me even more. Joshua Stelling presents in „Genex of Halcyon“ a version of our future that is a warning in many ways. At the same time, it fascinates as a fantasy adventure about a lot of our opportunities. He closes with a collection of his own poetry that builds a calm feeling after a thrilling end.

Stylistically it’s incredible. There are parts that I just couldn’t stop reading because they were so catching, most of them have been about philosophical theories and the meaning of stars and the universe, so I guess that’s a topic one needs to be interested in advance, but if you are, it feels like reading a masterpiece. Sadly some elements didn’t take me in, confused and bored me at some points, but to expect a book to be brilliant at every word wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be real anymore in no way.

After all „Genex of Halcyon“ is a copacetic Sci-Fi – utopia (or dystopia depending on the point of view) – philosophy novel-poetry mixture. I will definitely read at least a second time. By doing so, I hope to get the plot a bit better and more rooted than so far. Of course, I’m looking forward to enjoying the philosophical, astronomical and poetic parts again as well.

Hope you’re having a good time,
Aly

PS: I got „new“ books on rebuy (a great way to buy second hand), so I’m gonna read them next and review them soon. Both are written or translated in German so I’ll probably do two entrys for each book again.