Rachel Hartman's Reviews > The Boy at the End of the World

The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout
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May 03, 2012

really liked it
Read from December 28, 2011 to April 09, 2012

Edited to add: Ok, you know what? I'm giving this another star. Because here we are, a month later, and my son is STILL playing "Ark Designer". He's reading books on engineering and robotics and genetics (and lecturing me on same. *sigh*). He's building Arks out of Lego and drawing pictures of them. He even occasionally jokes, "Hello! I'm going to kill you now! Hello!" (that makes sense if you've read the book).

C'mon, kid. Admit it already: this book rocked your world and changed your life.

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(original review below)

Contrary to our usual practice, I rated this book 4 and my son rated it 2. I found it dryly humorous and an interesting exploration of what makes one human. He found it scary. We had several hiatuses because he would get upset and start yelling, which makes it hard to read to him. I tried to discuss that with him, saying, "Surely you felt so strongly about what was happening to Fisher because you cared about him - and isn't that what a good book makes one do? And it did turn out okay, didn't it?"

But no, he's having none of it. In fact, I totally cheated by saying he rated this a 2. He told me to give it NEGATIVE SEVEN stars. But that's not really an option, and again, I think his intense fits of passion over this book are an indication that he did get into it, even if he says he didn't.

That said: sensitive eight-year-olds may find this book too intense. There are quite a few life-threatening situations, including evil gadgets and an even eviler Intelligence (ye gods, it actually gave him nightmares, The Intelligence). The dry wit eluded him entirely, which surprised me, but he was just too caught up in the peril I guess.
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Reading Progress

12/28/2011 "Reading this out loud to my son. So far we are both totally in love with it."
12/28/2011 page 50
22.0% "A mammoth named Protein. Tee hee hee."
01/02/2012 page 75
33.0% "Tonight Byron kept singing (to the tune of "The Final Countdown") - "It's the final HU-man!" OK, maybe you had to be there."
01/22/2012 page 119
53.0% "*sigh* OK, we're stalled out. Not because this isn't good but because that bastard Harry Potter caught the boy's attention and that's all he wants right now. I'm sure we'll be back to this later, when Pottermania finally wears itself out."
06/10/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by jesse (new) - added it

jesse i'll be sure to read it to my nephew! haha :)


message 2: by L. (new)

L. Is it wrong that I think negative stars should be a rating option? Because I totally think negative stars should be a rating option.


Rachel Hartman Lisa wrote: "Is it wrong that I think negative stars should be a rating option? Because I totally think negative stars should be a rating option."

If negative stars are wrong, I don't want to be right!

It is oddly specific I suppose, but not odd for B, who has a head for numbers and isn't afraid to use it. He told me this morning that he'd raised his rating to 0.08 stars, and I told him to keep me posted. Maybe he'll make a graph. It's the kind of thing he'd do.


message 4: by jesse (new) - added it

jesse Rachel wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Is it wrong that I think negative stars should be a rating option? Because I totally think negative stars should be a rating option."

If negative stars are wrong, I don't want to be r..."


except that he found it scary, did he mention what else he didn't like? i'm really curious..


message 5: by L. (last edited Apr 10, 2012 03:21PM) (new)

L. Rachel wrote: "He told me this morning that he'd raised his rating to 0.08 stars, and I told him to keep me posted. Maybe he'll make a graph. It's the kind of thing he'd do."

Your son and his mathematically precise critiques, my daughter and her indignant, continuity rants; they both make me stupidly nerd-proud.

If he does make one, I really want to see that graph.


Rachel Hartman joє wrote: "except that he found it scary, did he mention what else he didn't like? i'm really curious.. "

I've been slow to answer this because I wanted to give him a few days to calm down. He has spent those days designing "birthing pods" on paper and building "the Western Ark" (from the book) on a website he likes called RoBlox. This suggests to me that he actually quite liked the book, because it caught his imagination and this is how that always manifests (I can't even tell you how many times he built Camp Half-Blood out of Lego, for example).

So I said to him this morning, cautiously, "It looks like you appreciated some parts of the book."

He said: "Only the Western Ark! I'm building a world with only the Western Ark, which was good and preserved humanity! Did you know that if you bubble argon through the cryonite..."

After a little more discussion with him, here's my conclusion: he loved the SF ideas, he empathized strongly with the main character, and it really was simply too scary for him. He's eight. He's very sensitive. When he gets scared, he doesn't like to admit it and it often takes the form of HATE EVERYTHING. So. There you go.


Rachel Hartman Goblet of Fire was a tough one for my son also. He was so upset by the ending that he made a HOWLER for J.K. Rowling out of red construction paper, white for the teeth. It was the most adorable thing ever, and I didn't dare laugh about it because he was so FURIOUS about Cedric. Ah, my boy. Y'know, if anyone tells you boys just aren't as emotional as girls, that is a gross generalization and not universally true.


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