While I felt the story was interesting and I read the whole book in one sitting, it left me feeling a little exhausted and unsatisfied at the end of it all. I rated it three stars because it just left me with this hallow feeling, as if something was missing, and not in a good way. I would recommend it if someone asked about it, but it isn't a book I would bring up in discussions, and it's not one I would voluntarily re-read unless I really had no other option.
This was a great on-the-edge-of-your-seat novel. I found it very interesting that these teens chose to keep their friendship a secret, which ultimately led to so much confusion and disbelief when Janie turns up missing. There is a definite reason why Janie has disappeared, and the whole story is Micah trying to figure out what happened while dealing with amnesia and denial.
I adored Amy Zhang's debut Falling Into Place. It was one of those books I couldn't get out of my head the moment I finished it. The writing was gorgeous, and she provided me with what felt like an authentic teen voice. I admit though -- I have a thing about pretty-ugly people, and This Is Where the World Ends continues this loves. If only Goodreads hadn't posted the major spoiler of this book as the blurb!
Janie and Micah are inseparable, and it's to the point where they have this disturbing toxic relationship built upon co-dependency. When janie goes missing, Micah spends a lot of the novel contemplating his relationship with her, while also potentially believing that he may have been the cause. In the before segments of the novel, we are looking at Janie and her need to feel wanted by others. It's also about her "relationship" with both Micah and Anders, and the personal apocalyse that she creates. She is raped, feels as though no one will believe her, and questions if anyone really gives a crap about her. At the same time, however, Janie is someone who emotionally manipulates others, and has no problem bringing people down a peg. She's not a nice person in the slightest, but rape is not something you wish upon someone either.
I felt for both characters in the story, even though I was so frustrated and angry by their actions. A lot of the characters in this book are unlikable, mean, ugly, but they feel so realistic and important. There's no kindness nor justice in the world that Zhang illustrates, and you get this dire sense that human decency is a dead art form. There's so much victim blaming, aggression, and it made me so sad. Especially when we learn what the metaphors mean... it really affected me.
I also appreciate the portrayal of friendship in this novel, as it's the main focus. While it's not the kind of friendship one wants to have, it makes so much sense in the relationship that Zhang has painted for Micah and Janie. It's disturbing, raw, playful, and I loved all those elements about it. While I can't say I enjoyed this book as much as Falling Into Place, I still feel like this novel offers an authentic voice that we need more of in YA. This book is definitely recommended for those who love diverse relationships and screwed up friendships.
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