this is where the world ends by amy zhang

Title: This is Where the World Ends

Author: Amy Zhang

Published: 22 March 2016

Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Fiction



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Let me start off by saying that I disliked this book; the only redeeming quality that I see it having is Amy Zhang’s beautiful, lyrical writing, so I apologize if this book report in particular sounds a bit like it’s a rant (because in a way, it is), but I just need a way to get all these thoughts out there, ya feel?

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.

The story is about Janie Vivian and Micah Carter (who is male, by the way) and their ~quirky~ friendship filled to the brim with metaphors and late-night “ninja missions”, reminiscent of Paper Towns by John Green. Their relationship isn’t as simple as that, as one might expect. For some reason, they’re keeping their friendship a secret, the reason behind which, I didn’t completely understand. Janie is popular, Micah is awkward. Janie doesn’t want to be seen with Micah at school, but somehow, Micah ever so annoyingly does everything Janie wants him to do. He’s a pushover, and Janie is manipulative and pretentious. 

I hated their friendship (I was going to use the word despised but that may be taking it too far). Theirs was every bit toxic, and I don’t understand why they even hang out in the first place. Also, here’s the thing – Micah is in love with Janie, and Janie knows. Again, for some undisclosed reason, Janie proceeds to date a bunch of other guys even with this knowledge, and Micah still follows her around like a puppy.

I disliked and disapproved of Micah and Janie’s friendship, which is one thing, but Janie Vivian as a separate entity is something else altogether. Janie, as I have mentioned, is so pretentious and enjoys throwing pity parties for herself. She’s obsessed with a pile of rocks. Literally. And she calls this pile of rocks The Metaphor. She keeps rocks in her pockets, with Virginia Woolf quotes on them, written with Skarpie. She speaks, almost exclusively, in metaphors. How unrealistic can this character get? She’s over-the-top and larger-than-life, extremely in contrast with Micah Carter, the most bland, boring character ever.

Right off the bat, everything was so confusing. You’d have to figure out yourself that Micah narrates the after parts, while Janie narrates the before parts. Now that in itself isn’t necessarily difficult to digest, but the way that this book is in befores and afters instead of chapters was a tad bit confusing. I sometimes found myself forgetting who was narrating. It likewise didn’t help that the first parts of the story were all too boring and draggy. It felt like a hundred pages were entirely about Micah forgetting everything that happened, and him trying to remember, and then him forgetting again. 

This book was sadly predictable. I guessed the book’s supposed plot twist before I even reached half of the book. Also, trigger warning, and spoiler alert: there’re rape and suicide in this book, annoyingly used as plot devices.

The last few “chapters” were a bit more exciting, somehow giving the impression that the story is building up to a shocking, groundbreaking conclusion, which brings me to the final thing that I hated about this book – the ending was so unsatisfying and underwhelming, and left me feeling hugely disappointed. “That’s it?” I thought to myself, and it’s not the good kind. It’s a that’s it? of someone expecting something a whole lot better, not a that’s it? of someone who’s just been left at a spectacular cliffhanger, wanting more. The story ended up falling flat; the conclusion was a major let-down. I have no idea why Amy Zhang ended the story in that manner, and I guess I’ll forever be left to wonder.

I’d rate this book two stars ★★. I don’t recommend reading it, but the two stars are for Amy Zhang’s beautiful writing style. I’m sure she’d have more books in the future that would infinitely be better than this one (and I have yet to read Falling Into Place, anyway, which is apparently better than this one).



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