Timely and powerful; the new coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.
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 . . . ?
Emily Barr worked as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. She went travelling for a year, writing a column in the Guardian about it as she went, and it was there that she had an idea for a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, which won the WH Smith New Talent Award. She has since written eleven more adult novels published in the UK and around the world, and a novella, Blackout, for the Quick Reads series. Her twelfth novel, The Sleeper, is a psychological thriller set on the London to Cornwall sleeper train. In 2013 she went to Svalbard with the idea of setting a thriller in the Arctic. The book that came out of it was The One Memory of Flora Banks, a thriller for young adults, which attracted universal interest from publishers before being bought pre-emptively by Penguin earlier this year. It will be published globally in January 2017. She lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children.
In her young adult novel, THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE END OF THE WORLD, Emily Barr imagines a situation in which atmospheric changes doom the earth. “The Creep” as it is called, will end life in exactly nine months. People live out what might be their final days on earth in a strange mixture of dread, fear, and celebration (why not? We’re gonna die anyway?). There are also those who live in a state of near-normal, this last of which reminds me of all of our lives since the pandemic.
Olivia , a high school girl with serious social anxiety, has to decide how to live her final days on earth. Will she continue with her (mostly) lonely existence, refusing to take risks in love, and wishing she could be like other teenagers who can do such apparently ordinary things as go to parties? Or will the prospect of a ticking time clock that counts down to the end of humanity cause Libby to finally do the things and say the things she wants?
And Libby is kind of special – if only she’d see it. For example, she takes part in a school play, performing a brilliant lead for Romeo and Juliet. She’s a doting sister to her younger half-siblings. She is loveable, charming, and funny. But she would like to tell her crush, Zoe, that she is in love with her. And she’d like to enjoy being around other people generally…if only she could figure out how.
And then, unexpectedly, Libby discovers she has an 18-year-old American cousin, Natasha. Natasha is a wildly uninhibited enthusiast who challenges Libby to take risks, coaches and encrouaging her her through texts.
When Libby’s family goes on what is likely to be their last holiday on earth, Natasha arrives to their rental house bringing her unusual exuberance, and whisks Libby off to explore Europe. She discloses that she’s psychic. No, really, Natasha hears voices in her head. It’s actually very well described. She talks about how she imagined everyone tuned into such voices and didn’t understand for a long time that she was different. And that her dreams sometimes ended up happening in real life. But she can’t predict the future: she doesn’t know whether the world really will end or scientists will come to the rescue. Meanwhile, they have a lot of living to do: and that’s where I have to stop describing this lovely, quirky book…because the spoilers would destroy the reading experience.
Natasha is much more than she seems at first, and nothing like what you’ll expect. Libby is capable of far more than she ever imagined. The two of them blaze through Europe living up their last days (and hoping they won’t be their last as scientists are working on the climate change that has brought on the end of the atmosphere and therefore human existence). Of course, everything unravels eventually, but the fun in the book is to find out how. The novel’s chapters line up like a list of things to do before the end of the world, and I loved finding myself in its list of instructions.
Super grateful for being part of the blog tour for this title & as always, my opinions are honest and my own.
I ended up enjoying the book, I hoped to enjoy it even a little more, but it was very good, and the author's style resonates a lot with me, even so, it was not entirely what I expected. The plot begins with a certain super catastrophic but at the same time intriguing promise that manages to keep you hooked from the first pages, but then begins to transform into a more than anything contemporary book of self-discovery, which wasn't an impediment to my enjoyment, it was just different and unexpected. I adore the author's style and how she always manages to give us a solid setting and relatable characters. In summary, I found a very interesting book to explore even though it doesn't cover the full experience that I expected, nor does it have a very clear direction.
In this book, we follow Olivia, a highly introverted girl who's trying to live her life as comfortably as possible, until one-day humanity recognizes the damage has done to the earth for thousands of years is irreversible, therefore there are only nine months left till the "end of the world." Due to this tragic news, everyone is driven to start living their lives to the fullest and make the most of the time they have left as much as possible, which becomes a challenge for the shy Olivia who's still not sure how she wants to live her last months. But then almost out of nowhere Natasha, a cousin that Olivia didn't know, appears in her life and this will affect and change Olivia in ways she didn't expect.
This is a very interesting plot to read, as I said before, I was expecting something denser in terms of the end of the world and this apocalyptic thing, you know, but instead, I found a point of view more focused on the contemporary side, and in the consequences or actions that this news has on people and how, above all, it affects the main character Libby (Olivia), who has always lived a little fearful and withdrawn from other people.This approach isn't something negative as such, just something surprising for me, anyway I think it's important to emphasize it in case any of you are interested in reading it and perhaps a contemporary plot isn't what you're really looking for.
I'd already read the author in the past, I read The One Memory of Flora Banks and although I know it's an unpopular opinion, I loved it! So I was quite excited to read more about the author and even more to participate in this blog tour, which I don't regret since I think she has a very unique ability to describe settings, to create interesting and relatable characters, such as also to give a unique touch to their stories that make them stand out from others, perhaps exploring issues that aren't touched too much in the genre. This time I really liked the way the author gives personalities to the characters since both Olivia and Natasha and even the secondary characters, have very marked personalities and differ widely from each other, which puts the characters in difficult, uncomfortable, or even new situations, which makes the relationship between them help each of them to grow and develop, especially for Olivia this is an important factor since starting to interact with her cousin starts a strong journey of self-discovery and even acceptance for her.
Although I don't care that the book is more focused on the story of the girls, and the things we would do if we knew that the world was going to end, instead of focusing more on the apocalyptic of the matter, I have to confess I'd have loved to have that point of view too, maybe something more dystopian where people make plans to try to survive or this kind of thing.
In this book, it's rather a collective realization where everyone understands that although it's difficult to assimilate, the reality in which they live is like this, and now they must hurry to do everything they have always wanted to do. There are simply so many points to explore in a plot as such, that I feel that they were somehow left aside to focus on the more contemporary and human aspects. It also gives me the sense that it is poorly resolved as such, especially towards the end it's kind of messy as if the author didn't know well what definition to give it, in any case, I highlight the revelations since they seemed well executed.
In summary, I think that when you give your book such a dark and urgent tone, maybe the focus should be more developed in that area at least for the first part of the book, and then transition to the worldly problems of the characters, even so, This is my opinion and as I always say, you don't have to think the same.
As a contemporary plot, touches on extremely interesting and even important topics, such as revelations about the family, the search for who we are, and what we want to do with our lives. Why is it really worth fighting for? & the value of simply living fully, you know? What would you do if you knew that you only have nine months to live? I think it's an extremely interesting and intriguing question to explore and is asked quite intentionally in this book.
I quite liked the book, I don't think it's a bad read at all, it's not what I expected certainly, even so, it provides very unique moments, great characters and life lessons, as well as reflective moments that explore things in life we can all feel identified with. I recommend it? Of course! but only if you're looking for a solid contemporary book with a plot focused on the existential as such rather than an apocalyptic plot, you know? in that case, it's super easy to read, flows for the most part well as well and the characters are worth it. I'm still interested in continuing to read the works of the author since I really like her writing style.
When you’re told within the first few pages of the book that a “catastrophic breakdown of everything” is on the way in several months’ time, you don’t necessarily expect an uplifting read. Although I’d had a rough idea what the book was about (there’s a clue in the title), I did rather wonder at this point if I wanted to continue. Oh well, at least it’s not because of a virus. (The day when the world finds out about its impending doom happened to be my daughter’s birthday... so that’s nice.)
In fact, the “end times” are more of a backdrop than a focus - we’re told relatively little in the way of specifics - as main character Olivia (Libby) experiences one very unexpected summer. Sixteen-year-old Libby isn’t exactly living her best life - she’s very lacking in confidence and the girl she’s been in love with for four years, Zoe Adebayo, is oblivious - but everything’s about to change when she finds a cousin she never knew she had. The ebullient Natasha is something of a force of nature, and before long Libby’s life is moving in completely unexpected directions and she’s doing things she never dreamed she was capable of. But how much does she know about Natasha, really?
I’ve always enjoyed Emily Barr’s books, and this was no exception. Throughout the book there’s a lot Libby doesn’t know - what’s really going on with her mother? what, if anything, is Natasha up to? - and it was intriguing to see how things unfolded. Meanwhile, there’s the ever-present fear, dealt with in different ways by different characters, that the human race may not live to see the future.
Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review - I enjoyed it a lot.
I’m a big fan of Emily Barr, but this is the first of her four YA novels I’ve read. And I couldn’t put it down!
The story centres on Olivia, aka Libby, and a permafrost called ‘The Creep’ aka the end of the world, September 17th. There’s a lot of aliases in this book. It has elements of what’s actually happening in the world right now, or at least it’s believable enough that it could happen, which means it feels less sci-fi/dystopian and more mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in. Anyway, as the title gives away, this is all about what Libby does before the end of the world. There is way more to the storyline and I don’t want to give anything away, but I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this and especially the fact that we learn along the way with Libby.
Thank you to Netgalley & Penguin Random House for the advance review copy.
Things To Do Before the End of the World is a young adult dystopian thriller novel set over the course of an increasingly hot summer before the apocalypse, in Britain, Spain and France. Olivia has always been shy. When global events take away her future plans, and a previously unknown cousin arrives from the US, she realises she needs to seize life while she still can. But is anything quite as it seems? And who can she really trust? 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 are 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 existed.
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 an affect on her. But what if Natasha isn't everything she first appears to be? This is a compelling, imaginative and enthralling read, and although it isn't as much about the dire situation on earth as it is about Olivia as a person; about her finding her voice, being brave, and travelling in the sunshine it is still a compelling tale. Themes Barr explores are adversity, love, loss, the power of friendship, identity, finding a place you feel you belong, LGBTQ+ rights and sexuality, which are all woven into the fabric of the story seamlessly. Protagonist, Olivia, suffers from social anxiety and insecurity, and I adored the way in which the author imbues her with the power to overcome it. It's well written, thought-provoking and easy to immerse yourself within the story and it gets you ruminating on exactly what you would do if you only had 9 months left on the planet. Woven into the narrative and at the heart of this book is the ubiquitous and urgent issue of climate change and the gradual warming of the planet. A highly entertaining, timely and riveting read with a slew of secrets, many lies, betrayal and deception about to be revealed.
This story is a unique coming-of-age story. Our main character decides to step out of her shy, reticent self when the end of the world is predicted to happen in just a few short months. I expected "the end of the world" to be the main focus of this story. It actually takes second billing to the feelings, thoughts, and actions of humans who are adjusting their mindset to this doomsday prediction.
While I expected chaos, people seem to continue on with their life for the most part while expecting a miracle to step in and save the Earth from the global destruction humans have caused. Upon reflection, I can see this attitude being the norm. After all, who is better at burying our heads in the sand.
The main character, Olivia, refuses to take a chance on ending her days without taking chances and trying to gain the love of her life. Disaster ensues when she is duped by Natasha, a previously unknown cousin. On the surface, Natasha is everything Olivia wishes she could be. But, is she really? There are hints throughout the story that all is not as it seems.
When days are running short, Olivia realizes she is in over her head. She has no choice but to turn to her family. In the course of solving the mystery of Natasha, long-buried family secrets are disclosed.
I enjoyed the drama of family secrets, mysteries, and reconciliations. The doomsday aspect is ever-present in the background influencing actions and feelings, but if you are looking for it as the main character of this story, you won't find it. Let me finish by saying ...What an ending!
This cover is giving me 28 Days Later In France vibes, but the actual story gave me a bad Pretty Little Liars filler episode. I had the idea from the cover that this would be a final send off around Europe, as Olivia comes to terms with the world ending in September. But half way through, we were still in Spain and this story just didn't seem to know where it wanted to go.
A big problem this story had was that it didn't need the apocalyptic element, and it never focused on it. Instead, this focused on Olivia, who has anxiety (same), meeting her extroverted cousin Natasha, who convinces her to go to France with her. Natasha is clearly hiding something, but Olivia doesn't question this enough as they perform magic tricks to tourists to earn money.
Overall, I just felt frustrated. This story was really lacking descriptions to build a picture of Spain and France, especially Spain, which made it difficult for me to appreciate the cities at the end of the world. The drama with Natasha and the silly reveal at the end made the story weaker, and while I actually liked Olivia, the ending was exactly what I expected so that just disappointed me more.
Libby was an interesting character to follow throughout the book and I really liked her as the protagonist, even if she was a bit naive at certain times about everything that happened with Natasha throughout the book. Natasha was very complex but she was quite fishy throughout the whole book so I knew that she would inevitably do something questionable. However, I did love seeing Libby change into someone more confident and come out of her shell in the style of a coming-of-age book which I did really enjoy reading because it added a sort of sad note to the book given that it was all happening just as the world was about to end.
The plot was, as I said a coming-of-age and that was lovely to read even with the growing threat of the Creep throughout the book. However, I thought that the idea of the end of the world could have been played up a little bit more to create a bit more of a dramatic atmosphere and more of a sense of sadness at the end of the book. Speaking of the end of the book I did think it was all handled very well, with the dramatic conflict between Natasha and Libby and then the Creep coming around.
The writing was very enjoyable and easy to read, keeping me engaged throughout the book. I think that there could have been more of a sense of tension around the Creep and then Natasha being fishy around Libby. I did like how the little clues about Natasha came back later to explain her actions and that is something that I appreciate.
I received this book through NetGalley as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
This is a YA thriller, however I wouldn't pick this book up if you were looking for the thriller aspect alone as the thriller aspect only even starts to build around forty percent onwards in my opinion. I loved the premise behind this book, and this is what originally tempted me to pick it up. I think the end of the world idea is fascinating, and that looking at human behaviour and different coping mechanisms would make for a great thriller storyline. However, the thriller side of things more follows another thread of storyline that is interlinked with the world ending. I didn't always enjoy the thriller side of things. I found the pacing to occasionally be a bit off, and the plot slightly silly and ridiculous. Yet I cannot deny that there was something about the writing that kept me going regardless.
I can't remember the last time a book left me so torn. I didn't just struggle with pacing issues and hatred for storyline but also for feeling like the first twenty percent felt like ticking boxes. You name it and practically any kind of diversity or representation popped up, to a ridiculous and unbelievable extent. If it had felt authentic, I'd have been all for it, as it was it just felt too much. This isn't to say that there weren't wonderful diversity aspects in this book, as there were, just the first twenty percent came on a bit too strong.
This all makes it sound like I didn't love this book, when truly I did. I think this book will stay with me for a long time to come. It gave me lots to think about, both in terms of what I would want to do if I were in that situation. What would I have done at that age in that situation would be an even more interesting direction. Meanwhile thoughts about our own mortality and how humans deal with that was touched upon regularly. Also the themes of family were at times incredibly heartwarming in this, and just incredibly wholesome at times. This is highly worth checking out, I just exercise caution that you may end up having a love hate relationship with this book too.
Things to do Before the End of the World is a powerful coming of age story that reminds the reader that our impact on the environment could mean our ultimate extinction.
What I Liked
The timing of this story is even more impactful because of our current world situation. Much like the environment in the story, I don’t think anyone believed our world would come to a standstill due to a disease. Beyond comprehension, with our explosive advancements in every area, anything cannot be quickly neutralized so that our lives remain the same. But, as we have seen, that isn’t true. That made me think twice about the story’s message as I imagine it will other YA readers – young and old.
I found Olivia’s coming of age story to also be impactful in an unexpected, inspiring manner. She starts the story as a girl who is scared to live her life – to enjoy everything life has to offer, even if it is right in front of her. Olivia writes emails that she doesn’t send or intends to send to a girl for which she has feelings. She keeps her circle very tight and doesn’t venture outside of that circle, considering invisibility to be her superpower until she meets her cousin through an email after learning about her existence. Natasha has a significant impact on Olivia’s life, and the story of their relationship is such a compelling storyline that it is hard to put the book down once Natasha appears.
The pace stays quick throughout the story as I waited to see if life really would end on September 17. It can’t end, right? Or can it? I found myself imagining what the world would be like if everyone knew the exact day, it would end. I pictured a society turning very hedonistic in my mind, but if you want to find Barr’s thoughts, you will have to pick up this book.
This story has a lingering effect - my thoughts returning to what I would do if I knew the exact date the world would end. I love that it has me asking tough questions of myself and society as a whole and making me contemplate if the changes I would make knowing the world was going to end are changes that I should be making now.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are ready to have your world change, this is the book that will take you there.
I wasn’t really expecting much when I picked up this book, as I said, this isn’t my genre. It surprised me that I didn’t hate it at the end.
The concept of the “end of the world” in this book is a bit new to me. I haven’t read anything with a concept like “The Creep,” or maybe I just don’t read enough apocalyptic stories. But one reason it’s new to me is because, well, it’s not virus. This ‘end of times’ element of the story kind of pushed into the background. Along the way, it became just a backdrop to make way for Libby’s, the main character, part of the plot.
That make sense because the title itself points to things to do before the end of the world, thus the story is focused on things Libby will do. Libby is someone we already met before in other young adult contemporaries. She is shy and is trying to find her place and voice and confidence to maybe at least talk to her crush at school. And this end of the world thing pushed her to do the things she must or have always wanted to do but didn’t have the guts to do so before.
Enter, Natasha, Libby’s cousin that she never knew. With Natasha’s help, Libby’s life is turning into different directions. But Natasha also isn’t what she appears to be. Which brings me to the thriller aspect of the story. It came a little bit late, to be honest. The devices used aren’t that new to me but that’s not an issue to me. I do think that they’re not enough to label this book a thriller. This book lacks the right devices to make the readers thrilled and, you know, surprised by the supposed reveals.
As for the settings, Libby was in three countries, if I’m not mistaken – England, Spain and France. The reason I am not sure because I didn’t really feel immersed in those places. Maybe it’s the lack of description or maybe it’s because, for me, this book will still be the same even if it only happens in one country. I just had that feeling.
So far, it sounds like I don’t like this book. I do like this book. I didn’t get bored reading it. I finished it in one go – this doesn’t say anything because I usually finish reading books in one sitting. But anyway, this book has its own charms as well. I think the family aspect is heartwarming.
Most importantly, this book will make you think. In fact, just after reading the title, I felt like making some list of things I will do not before the end of the world but before I die.
Despite my issues with this book, I still enjoyed it. As I said, I read it in one sitting. I am also sure that more readers will enjoy this even more than I did.
The blurb of this book was enough to get me excited, so when I had the chance to participate in the blog tour for this book I just couldn’t refuse!.
In this book we meet Olivia, a woman who finds herself facing the knowledge that life, and the world that she knows, is coming to an end. This prompts Olivia to compile a bucket list of things she wishes to do before her limited time runs out, but when she is faced with such a task, she finds it rather impossible to condense all she wishes to do with her life down to the contents of a list.
Then, out of nowhere, Olivia is contacted by Natasha – a long lost cousin that prior to this moment, Olivia had no idea existed!. Deciding to live in the moment, Olivia and Natasha meet up to spend their last summer together, and Olivia finds herself entranced by Natasha’s confidence and easy way with life, everything she wishes she could be herself. But the more time that she spends with her cousin, the more it comes to light that Natasha is not all that she seems.
Where do I start with this book! The storyline is so unique and full of drama and suspense, it really does reel you in and keep you captivated from the very first page. I love the way this story is told, really giving us an insight into the mindset of Olivia as she faces the harsh reality of the world coming to an end.
The characters are wonderfully developed and each of them have their own complex personalities. The varying characteristics of these characters really does enhance the story and adds new depths to this fantastic story.
This book is full of drama and suspense, keeping you on the edge of your seat as the story pushes forward and reaches its climax. This is without a doubt a must read for 2021 and a book I will be recommending to everyone!.
You have five minutes left to live. What will you do?
Thank you @netgalley and @penguinukbooks for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Life is way too short when it comes to misunderstandings and ego. It becomes even more shorter when global warming decides to act out. Things come into perspective when we become aware of our time left on this world, and everything not said and not done become the sole purpose of our existence.
'Things to do before the end of the world' is a book that talks of ethics, living life to the fullest, and how we're killing our planet on a daily basis. Libby is an introverted college teen who goes into an existential crisis when she finds out that the world as she knew it was coming to an end. She sets out to discover family secrets, explore Europe, learn about the street world, and invariably gets hurt in the process.
Libby had such an amazing character arc, and so did all the characters in the book! The most important takeaway would be that life is unpredictable and it's upto us to live it like no other.
Heartwarming, quick and light, this book is perfect for when you're in a slump or otherwise!
What would you do if you got the news that you only have about a year left to live - and so does everyone else? That the world is about to go down? Quite a spooky thought if you ask me. It makes my stomach turn, it makes me scared. Humanity has lived through so many scary and possibly life-threatening scenarios - there were world wars, atomic catastrophies, and now we're living through a pandemic. Every day we have is a gift, and we should treat it as such - but I'm drifting off topic lol.
Olivia - Libby - our heroine here, just got away from a Christmas party at her college when the breaking news hit her - and everyone else's - phone. I found it very interesting to see her reaction compared to that of the other people around her. While adult men are breaking down crying, Libby is taking the news almost as if... they don't really concern her. And I think that's exactly how Libby's life has been so far. It is as if she's been detached from it all, and I could feel with her so well, seeing my teenage self in her a bit.
Libby is a great character in what I would say is her coming of age story - when her actual coming of age is stopped by the impending end of the world. I loved Libby's way of dealing with her problems, her social anxiety the way she did. The impending doom helped her insofar as it turned her decisions that were 'I'll do it one day' before the news of 'The Creep' (as people call the disaster that's about to strike out humanity) suddenly into 'If I don't do it now I will never do it'. She was given an ultimatum, and Libby made the most of it. After all, you can only panic for so long when you are given the news that the world ends in a year, before you have to start really living it.
I loved the writing. Author Emily Barr made it into such a personal account, I loved reading Libby's uncensored thoughts in brackets, it felt like talking to a friend! I loved seeing the character coming out of her shell, even under these circumstances and despite her shyness. Reading about her liberation felt liberating to me too, and every time she managed to talk to strangers or did something else that not long ago would have been very hard, if not impossible, for her, I wanted to high five Libby.
She isn't the only great character in this book, though. Her best friend Max, the one she barely exchanges more than six words with on a daily basis (they both feel more comfortable typing), her step-mother with the great taste in fancy clothes, her crush Zoe, her new found cousin Natasha, all these are amazing support characters that made this novel into something even more special. I loved that Libby has such a great connection with her family and that they are all so close.
I loved her mum especially. While at first she seemed to turn toward religion as her way to cope with the impending end of the world, she was more of a free spirit and you could tell by the way she soon abandoned her church visits again. I loved how well she knew Libby, and the way she didn't judge her for being who she is. Libby appreciated her honesty too, and liked that her mother knew and understood her way of thinking, I feel like. Furthermore, Libby's step father, step-mother, dad, and her two half-siblings were all great, individual characters that added a nice touch to the story, every single one of them.
Libby's two half-siblings were sweet, funny, loveable little toddlers who, over the course of the story, grow into smart little two-year-olds. It was lovely seeing how much Libby loved being around them, and how she blossomed in these scenes. It made me chuckle how she disregarded her father's and step-mother's rules the second they left the house, and how she made her own when it came to her siblings' wellbeing.
Libby thought she was invisible back then, but she was actually loved by many people. If only she could have seen how special she was! I loved how she turned what she had in her head thinking she would one day possibly, maybe do, into reality. Even if it needed the knowledge that the world would soon come to an end to achieve that. Sometimes you need a little nudge to come out of your shell, and that was certainly a proper nudge that Libby got.
One other character who has a really big impact on the story is Natasha, Libby's cousin she didn't know she had. Natasha lives far away, and they will never meet anyway, so why not talk to her, right? Well, not only that seems to turn out much different than Libby expected, there's also so much more to Natasha... but you will have to read this book yourself in order to find out what that is!!
Things to Do Before the End of the World will be published on 13th May by Penguin. Mark the day in your calendars, you will not want to miss this amazing new YA story!!!
What would you do if the world is about to end? Shy, awkward Libby finds herself trying to answer that very question when it’s announced the wold will end on the 17th of September. All she wants is to be more confident - maybe then she would finally be able to talk to the girl she likes. And when she discovers she has a long-lost cousin Natasha, Natasha seems to be the key to helping Libby gain confidence. But is Natasha truly what she seems?
This book has an interesting if bizarre premise. It definitely kept me hooked - once Natasha was introduced, I found the story really exciting and couldn’t put it down. I loved the exploration of Libby and her family and watching her character develop throughout the book. Natasha was also a highly interesting character, and she definitely made the book for me. Although some aspects of the plot were somewhat predictable, I really enjoyed it and was fully engrossed in the storyline. The story does require a big suspension of belief as the events don’t seem like they would happen in real life, but this is first and foremost a story about the world ending so nothing is going to be accurate. Overall I would recommend this book, I really liked the characters and the writing.
I received an eARC as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest opinion. It has not affected my opinions.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE END OF THE WORLD is described as a thriller, but it felt a little more contemporary to me, which isn't my cup of tea. Objectively, it's a really nice read, with an intriguing premise, but ultimately, not my thing, so I will endeavour to ensure my review reflects that!
The idea of the world ending in 6 months was the thing that drew me to the book. While the situation is more exaggerated than real life, it still feels a bit too real given we ARE heading straight for a climate emergency. I could well image we do hit the point where we do only have a limited time, but I think there'd be a lot more also going on (like sea level rise which would have affected some of the book's locations etc)
I liked how the book showed so many different reactions - which felt very realistic. There were those who were living life to the full/excessively with big parties and massive spending. Others were firmly denying anything was happening (clinging to the 30% chance it could be stopped). More were carrying on like normal to avoid being paralysed, and yet more were turning to faith, cycling through many as they tried to find something that could explain it all.
Natasha was an interesting character, and how it was very slowly peeled back until it all suddenly went wrong and then was quickly wrapped up and explained. It did feel like, as a whole, the book lacked a creeping sense of unease that grew. Perhaps it was because I was expecting it to be a thriller, and so to be more intense that I missed a lot of it. It did really feel like a contemporary at first, and walks the line between them - unlike the murder mystery (etc) thrillers I'm used to.
If it wasn't for the blurb, I probably wouldn't have thought anything was off until the midway point, and then probably written it off until the third act where she says something very suspicious that tips Libby off. It's always strange to see how a blurb affects your reading of a book (and I think the "thriller" categorisation also came into play here.)
When I was offered me a sneak peek of Things to do Before the End of The World, I knew I had to take a big step out of my Middle Grade comfort zone – and wow…I am so glad I did – what a book!
This dramatic coming-of-age, psychological thriller is set against the dystopian backdrop of an impending ‘end of days’ environmental catastrophe nicknamed ‘The Creep.’ As the Permafrost melts away and the earth rapidly heats up to searing temperatures, so does the plot as we watch our protagonist Olivia become totally intoxicated with cousin Natasha’s heady charisma, confidence and charm.
Natasha has the ability to push Olivia way out of her comfort zone and make her do things she never imagined she could – from hustling tourists with street magic, reading palms and setting her dare-like ‘tasks’ to complete, in a bid to bring her out of herself.
But a sinister side of Natasha starts to emerge – controlling… manipulative and there is no way she could know some of the details she does about Olivia’s family…
Travel is central to the book and from a slow burning start in Winchester, the story rapidly shifts up through the gears as Natsha’s character gets deeper and deeper under Olivia’s skin. After a smouldering stay in Spain the plotline reaches a break-neck, pace when the girls travel to Paris for an adrenaline-fuelled final part of the book. As the ‘End Times’ creep closer, so does the feeling of unease in the pit of your stomach around Natasha. Only days remain until the cataclysmic event and there’s an explosion of twists, turns and revelations of dramatic proportions – the feeling of sheer panic is palpable in more ways than one!
Unfortunately I can no longer categorise myself as a Young Adult, but Emily Barr transported me back to 17 year old me, enjoying my first taste of independence on a holiday abroad with a friend. The sun, the crushes, the parties teamed with the imminent end of the world and dark psychological undertones make this the perfect teen summer binge-read.
Things to Do has whetted my appetite to read more of Barr’s novels and Young Adult in general.
Ultimately, this is a story about Libby finding herself and her wings. We spend so much time focused on Libby’s anxiety and her inability to speak up about her feelings that you almost forget the world is going to end in what they call "The Creep."
Libby is painfully naïve. Watching her make one mistake after the next is like watching a train wreck. My daughter is the same age, and I cannot imagine a situation in which she would leave the house without a wallet or phone. But Libby battles crippling anxiety, and not only do I relate to that, but I can imagine her lack of street smarts comes from not going out and living life.
Poor Libby, you want to reach into the book, take her by the hand, and promise her everything good in the world. Finding out she has a cousin is a saving grace for her. Natasha is everything Libby needs, and she helps push her out of her comfort zone. There’s a good balance between The Creep and watching Libby navigate the days she has left. While this is more a story about Libby finding herself, it doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of reading this. This is a cute and engaging read that hooks you from the start.
Ever since Flora Banks, anything by Emily Barr is a must-read for me and this one didn't disappoint. I was so immersed in the book that I almost started to believe it was really happening! At first I thought this might not be the best type of story to read about with the current situation (not mentioning the C word...) but it is written so well and in some ways it is actually quite comforting.
Despite knowing this is a thriller and it's about the end of the world, it lulls you into a false sense of security. I got caught up in Olivia's excitement of all the new places she was visiting and experiences she was having. Then around halfway through the slightly sinister feeling really starts ramping up. I must admit I was surprised at how little the end of the world affected everyone and how smoothly the world kept running. This was kind of explained but not completely satisfactorily, though I kind of liked that it didn't focus on it too much.
This is exactly the kind of book that is perfect for a buddy read or book club because you'll want to discuss all your theories with someone. It also really makes you think about a lot of things, just like Olivia does. The importance of enjoying life while you can and taking a few risks sometimes. A little friendly warning here, you should prepare yourself for the ending!
Part eco-thriller, part mystery and part coming-of-age tale, Emily Barr’s Things to Do Before the End of the World is an odd book to categorise but, in spite of that, a compelling one to read.
As the title suggests, Things to Do Before the End of the World takes place in a near future setting where humanity’s negligence has resulted in potentially irreversible environmental catastrophe. Melting polar ice caps and the subsequent rise in carbon dioxide levels is going to wipe out the majority of life on earth and, as the novel opens, its main character Olivia is having to come to terms with the fact that not only will the world most likely end but, more specifically, it is going to do so in precisely nine month’s time. Which rather puts her inability to socialise with her classmates at the school dance and her worries about her exams into perspective.
Olivia – or Libby as she tends to be called – is shy, awkward and suffers from almost crippling social anxiety. Adept at planning out conversations and dreams in her head, she struggles to enact these in real life. Hence why despite her eloquently composed emails to the girl of her dreams, they’re going to sit unread in her drafts for what will quite possibly be the rest of Libby’s life.
Until, that is, Natasha turns up. Confident, easy-going, and extroverted, Libby’s long-lost cousin is everything that Libby isn’t – and everything she wants to be. So when Natasha proposes an all-out ‘end of the world’ road trip, Libby decides to throw caution to the wind and go out to explore the world she feels like she’s been hiding from her whole life. But is Natasha everything she claims to be? Or are there secrets to be discovered before the end of the world?
There is quite a lot going on in Things to Do Before the End of the World – possibly a little too much at times if I’m honest. Starting out with the imminent threat of ‘The Creep’ (as the rising levels of carbon dioxide come to be called), the book takes a turn into more comfortably YA ‘coming-of-age’ territory with an increasing focus on Libby’s insecurities and her budding romance, then switches modes into a Pretty Little Liars-style thriller/mystery as Libby’s doubts about Natasha develop, before ending back as a ‘coming-of-age’ story as Libby discovers the truth behind all the mysteries.
Whilst all of these strands are interesting in and of themselves, the sudden lurches in tone were occasionally jarring and I did feel that some of the most interesting elements of the premise – most notably the threat of the ‘The Creep’ – were side-lined as the story continued in favour of more well-worn tropes such as the thriller and romance elements.
That isn’t to say that Things to Do Before the End of the World isn’t an enjoyable read however. I rattled through it over the course of a couple of evenings and very much enjoyed my time with it. Libby makes for a likeable and interesting protagonist and the development of her unease about Natasha and her motives adds a creeping sense of unease to the proceedings that ensured the pages kept turning. But the ending did feel a tad rushed – with such a lot going on, there was a lot to wrap up – and whilst the ‘end of the world’ premise added a unique and interesting backdrop, I felt that element – emphasised quite heavily in the blurb and at the beginning of the novel – was underutilised in the rest of the story.
That said, the ending does manage to be both heart-warming and poignant – no mean feat given the many layers and complexities of the plot – and I did really enjoy seeing the way in which Libby develops as a character over the course of the book.
Offering plenty of drama and suspense and with a premise that, whilst not wholly realised for me, added an additional layer of complication to the well-trodden YA ‘coming-of-age’ narrative, Things to Do Before the End of the World makes for an interesting and unique addition to the YA thriller genre – and a fantastic way to while away some summer evenings or a sunny weekend!
NB: This review appears on my blog at https://theshelfofunreadbooks.wordpre... as part of the blog tour for the book. My thanks go to the publisher and to Netgalley UK for providing an ecopy in return for an honest and unbiased review.
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers for a book tour but it has not affected my opinion.
Oh wow what can I say? I really adored this one! The concept of the world ending in 9 months and everybody knows it so how are they going to spend their final days is such a great one. What would you do? Would you spend your time wallowing in self-pity, would you get out there and meet people, party, tick items off your to-do list? Or would you just try to live and make the most of the time you have left?
These are the questions that face Libby, a socially awkward teen with anxiety. What I adored about Emily Barr’s novel is that it is this question which takes front stage, Libby’s character and her coming of age and NOT the easier ‘end of the world’ disaster movie stuff. I think that was just a brilliant choice from the author.
It is libby’s thoughts, desires, actions and emotions which are the highlight of this book. Now, maybe that is a risky choice for the author, maybe some readers would rather the easier, volcanoes erupting and meteorites incoming approach, but no, this is much more subtle affair.
What we see instead is the emotional evolution and blossoming of young girl who begins to find the courage to come out of her shell and take chances, take chances on love, take chances on life. It actually strongly affected me emotionally, I don’t want to gush too much, or give too much away, but I think maybe ‘inspirational’s the word. It kinda shows you that maybe you should live each day as if it were your last, stop playing it so safe, get out there and live your life, take chances.
And then of course we have the problems with that too as Natasha, the cousin she never knew she had, comes to the fore, Natasha may seem like all kinds of awesome, but is she actually really what she seems? As September the 17th ‘creeps’ lol closer the pace gets faster and faster, the tension is like a thing half alive. I’m sorry I just loved this book!! Three days since I finished it and its still on my mind
I was smitten with the story from the first page. Imagine knowing that you only have one year to live your life. As someone who gets stressed over managing daily tasks, I can’t even imagine what a mess I would be. I’m sure I would regularly panic if I were in Libby’s situation.
I loved Libby from the start and could relate to her feelings. It’s challenging to feel positive when you see so much negativity around you. That’s why I adored Natasha’s character. Natasha is vibrant, complex, and unpredictable. I loved the instant rapport Libby shares with Natasha and how Natasha encourages her to get past her fears and shyness and live her life. I also liked the way the author wrote about Natasha’s psychic personality, which makes her intriguing.
The author beautifully writes the tale, where you don’t know how it would turn out. Some of the scenes that stood out for me were how Libby’s mother reacts when Natasha mentions Violet or when Libby’s attitude changes towards Natasha after what she hears. Moreover, I loved the various highlights the author makes of Spain, like The Prado and Prosecco, and highlights of Paris, like the Louvre. She brought the locations to life and made me feel close to the characters.
The author paces the story nicely towards the end, wondering how things will turn out for the two in Paris. Speaking of which, the last few chapters of the events that transpire in Paris blew me away. It became a roller-coaster ride that I didn’t expect and made the story so memorable.
Overall, I found “Things to Do Before the End of the World” beautiful and bittersweet with a mix of an adventure thriller, and I loved it!
I started this book knowing that it would be about self-discovering, reaching for the stars, and just letting go of your shackles and fly. Needless to say that i have found those elements in the book which fit our heroine Olivia with her soft and shy personality, her struggles to lets go of her anxiety and fears, and to just live in the moment for whatever time left there is to live on this dying planet. Watching Olivia grow as she discovers more of herself with the help of the people around her especially her cousin is heartwarming, even if at times things seem to be weird and have a deeper meaning to them. The book is a nice quick journey through the last year on earth with Olivia traveling through different stops around the world, discovering bits and pieces of herself, of her past and her present. Both the writing styles and pace were perfect for the book’s tone and there is no time to get bored as the author hardly wastes words and doesn’t exaggerate things in order to make the plot appealing, since the characters and the setting of the book does it by itself.
If you are into stories about self-discovering and overcoming your weakness then i would suggest this book to you.
I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you so much to the blog tour organiser, the author, the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I went into this book expecting something, and I came out rather confused. I think this is definitely a case of "it's me not you" because I think that YA thrillers are just not at all the kind of books for me at all.
For quite a big chunk of the book (maybe 50%), something happened with a certain character that I hated, to be honest. I was very uncomfortable reading it because it felt like it was really laughing in the face of spiritualism and I couldn't figure out if any of it was truthful or not.
I didn't particularly like the characters, I found them flat and I hated one of them from the minute we met them. I feel like, for a book that has such a big plot, nothing happened and I just didn't like the plot devices used to make this a thriller or to make it give the reader the "omg" reaction.
I don't want to bash this book because I can see how people would love it, it's just not for me. I did however find the pacing and the writing style to be really good and although I wasn't enjoying myself, I did keep reading because I like the author's voice.
I have to admit that I’m not usually in to the whole end of the world/apocalyptic theme in books, but the book blurb sounded very promising, so when Dave told us about the tour, I made sure to sign up. I’m so glad I did, because I really enjoyed this book.
This wasn’t your typical end of the world story, which was obvious from the very beginning. Firstly, I want to point out that the cause of the end of humanity in Things To Do Before The End of The World is very possible, and if we don’t think about our actions and how they impact the planet now, it could all too soon become too late, and in the future this may become a reality. I liked the fact that it was realistic to what is happening in our world today, not like the usual meteor hits the earth or anything like that that you find in most end of the world stories. I also liked that everyone kind of carried on with their normal lives, and didn’t completely lose their minds (even though they would in real life), because honestly I’m too fed up with the chaos in the real world anyway. It was quite a refreshing way to view the end of the world.
The best thing about this book for me was that it becomes more of a story about Olivia finding herself, and also a sort of thriller, and it made it such a fun and enjoyable book to read. I loved following Olivia and Natasha on their adventures, especially because a couple of the places they visited are places that I would love to go myself.
I’m not sure how I felt on the views towards spiritualism, as it just seemed like they were making fun of it a lot of the time, and although I’m not overly spiritual, there are aspects that I do believe in, so I didn’t appreciate the way it was being approached. But that is probably my only complaint about the whole book to be honest.
Olivia was a lovely character. In some ways, I could really relate to her, but she was definitely way too naive. Her character development was an interesting one, but I’m hoping that there will be another book to follow, because I would love to see her grow more as a character. I’m also totally routing for her and Zoe! Then there was Natasha… There was immediately something about her that I didn’t like, and that feeling continued to grow throughout the story. I didn’t trust her. Her behaviour towards Olivia was odd to say the least, and I don’t think she had any redeeming qualities about her.
The ending of the story was a joy to read. So much happens in those last few chapters, and it has you on the edge of your seat. There are so many revelations, some of which I saw coming, but others that were complete surprises, and I couldn’t stop reading. Overall, this is a great read, and I certainly recommend it.
I give Things To Do Before The End of The World a 4 star rating!
I read this book as part of a book tour with The Write Reads, with thanks to them and Penguin Platform for the opportunity.
This book begins on a normal December night, with parties, cold, people everywhere but then that night goes from normal to horrific when everyone simultaneously receives a message that the world is going to end. Nine months. That's it. Nine months and everyone would be dead, how would you deal with that? Hide in the hills? Carry on as if nothing has happened? Live out your bucket list? For Libby Lewis, she carries on largely as normal, taking smaller risks such as joining the school play of Romeo and Juliet, but outside of that she lives her life as normal. When her estranged uncle dies, she is put into contact with her cousin Natasha who throws her stable normal life in a loop, and when they meet in Europe, her family holiday turns into a whirlwind of magic, fraud and deception.
I read the One Memory of Flora Banks a few years ago, so when I was asked to take part in this tour I was ecstatic as I thoroughly enjoyed that book and Barr's style of writing. I think this book would be a great summer read, dark and gritty but it also sits comfortably within the "find yourself" genre too. I do think the main character's narrative was a little bland at times, but as that was literally described as her character I couldn't be too mad. This was a really well throughout and consistent book that flowed well and gripped my attention well too.
Special thanks to theWriteReads, NetGalley and publisher for providing me with an arc.
3.5* Things to Do Before the End of the World is a truly unexpected read that manages to exceed expectations by breaking out of genre norms. Barr manages to fit a coming-of-age story and thriller all into a book about the end of the world. All of which the author manages to do very well.
It’s evident from the beginning that this book's primary themes revolve around the main character growing into herself under the most unique of circumstances. One concept repeated throughout this book is that going outside your comfort can sometimes help you live your best life. And, while doing so, you can manage to become more of the person you’re meant to be.
Taking that into consideration, and with the context of the world ending, this book was definitely in danger of falling into the realm of cliche. About one-third of the way through the book though, you discover the secondary plot that sort of seems to come out of nowhere. This storyline is truly what adds the flavour to this book, pulling it out of genre-specific expectations set up by the prevailing circumstances of the story.
While this does prove to work in this book's favour, it can be off-putting to some. At times it feels as though the book isn’t quite sure what it wants to be, which can detract from the intentions and layers of the story. It was a risky decision on behalf of the author, one with the potential to have a great pay off for unexpecting readers.
Things to do Before The End of The World by Emily Barr is a YA coming of age thriller revolving around a young girl, Libby, who has just discovered the world is going to end due to an environmental catastrophe called ‘the Creep’.
Naturally enough this leaves her with a question. How should be spend the little time that is left for her? Well, she decides to create a wish list of ‘things to do before ’the end of the world,’ and sets about trying to complete it.
I really love the way Emily Barr write this and convey’s Libby’s story, her inner and outer struggles and how a young teen with so much to live for but who has always been awkward and shy and anxious could deal with the terrible reality of the end of the world.
Its a joy to watch her character develop and grow. Enter from stage left - Natasha, a charismatic, mysterious, confident long lost cousin who in some ways is everything Libby wishes to be. Natasha really brings Libby out of her shell, though it is perhaps not always a good thing and I love that as it develops, well without too many spoilers, lets just say it becomes clear that Natasha is not the wonderful godsend she first appeared to be as as the end of the world looms large over Libby so too does Natasha as a sinister darker, manipulative side begins to emerge.
I just couldn’t put the book down. And it was all down to Libby’s character, what matters is not the impending end of the world and rather what happens to Libby, how she grows. The other characters too, Max, her mother and of course Natasha are all very well done, though some obviously get more screen time than others and the writing itself is top notch.
Highly recommended, one of my favourite reads of the year so far. Thanks to penguin UK and the write reads for introducing me to this wonderful book and wonderful author!
I love Emily Barr’s adult books. I really do. I find them gripping and I love the travel aspect of the thrillers she wrote in years gone by. I’ve devoured each one and champion her books to friends and family, who’ve enjoyed them alongside me.
But I’m really not too sure about her foray into the YA genre. Things To Do Before The End Of The World has those travel aspects which I love about her. Set in England, Spain and France, our protagonist Olivia is a shy late teen, struggling to find her voice. She comes from a split family background, and is awkward and finds it hard to talk to people. The book starts as she pushes herself to audition for a play, starring as Juliet, alongside her crush Zoe (not currently single), who plays Romeo. She then discovers she has a cousin from the US, who subsequently sets her more challenges to get her to overcome her nerves. She then meets Natasha in Spain and travel together, doing street magic and palmistry which Natasha teaches to Olivia. But predictably secrets are revealed along the way.
The end of the world thing doesn’t really work for me. It’s a terrifying idea, which I doubt many YA’s would enjoy, especially in the pandemic world we currently live in - which is scary enough in itself to get your head around. I have a 15 year old daughter, and while I know she would enjoy the thriller side of the travel story, would struggle with the idea of The Creep (where the world is running out of oxygen), and the death of birds and dogs and other animals described. I won’t be sharing this one with her for this reason.
For me The Creep and the death of humankind just wasn’t really believable. It could have been so much better as an adult themed novel, with more realistic situations. Tamed for the YA market perhaps, the story just had too many holes in it. I enjoyed the book however, but only by glossing over the voice in my head telling me that people just wouldn’t behave like the author describes.
It won’t put me off reading more of Emily Barr’s books though. She has an easy writing style, and I would recommend the book to the person who could deal with the topic in the current climate. However not if you question what you’re reading maybe!
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
I adore books that talk about the end of the world. Rather than dealing with a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max style wasteland, this book dealt with the months leading to the world's end.
It looked at Olivia, a teenager with all of the typical teenage problems: low self-esteem, an inability to maintain functional relationships and the secret, seemingly unrequited love that breaks your heart at that age.
The story rattles along at a good pace. The move from Winchester to a Spanish villa gives the story a kick start before the introduction of Natasha, Olivia's previously-unknown cousin. Her introduction somehow distracts Olivia (and us) from the impending doom and takes us down a series of mysterious twists and turns.
This would be great for students in Year 9 and beyond and is one I'll be looking at as a class read.