This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 22, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 304 – hardcover & paperback, 320 – ebook
Format Read: eARC
Rating: 3 stars
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.
Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance in a second novel.
Thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views & opinions below.
This is the first Amy Zhang book I’ve ever picked up. All I could say is that it was so-so. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the writing but… I can’t say the same about the story itself. I tend to usually steer clear of books with poetic or nonlinear prose because I feel like the writing kind of takes away from the reader’s ability to connect with the story. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the books that I’ve read, but so far, I haven’t encountered a single book written in nonlinear prose that still left me able to empathize with the characters and their story. (Except for We Were Liars).
Let me tell you, when I started reading this book, I was confused for 35% of it. That was probably because of Micah. He didn’t even know what was going on around him and his forgetfulness made him a very unreliable narrator. Janie, on the other hand, was a bit more of a complex character. She was sweet and naïve, yes, but she was also rude to people and obnoxious. She has so many personality traits that her character gave me a whiplash sometimes. However, the extremes of her personality were very compelling to read about. Her fairytale fantasies were whimsical and quirky which I think contrasted with Micah’s bleak grayness. Even though I couldn’t connect with either of them, it was interesting to read about their downward spiral and the toxicity of their relationship with each other and other people.
What bothered me about this story was the way Janie treated Micah. Micah would do anything for Janie, which she was quite aware of, and Janie used that to manipulate him. Why did she tell him she loved him and then date other people? Why did she ignore him at school but talk to him outside it? Janie practically had Micah at her beck-and-call and he was too spineless to do something about it. In a weird/sick way, it was fascinating watching all of this unfold.
The main factor that irked me about this book was its predictability. It was obvious where the story was going, which made it lack a sense of urgency. The inability to connect with any of the characters contributed to that, too. Yes, Janie and Micah were two very emotional narrators but it was just very difficult to devote myself to their story. Also, was it just me or was the ending extremely lacking? So many loose ends, unanswered questions and zero impact. When I finished the book, it was less of an “oh damn” moment and more of an “oh okay” moment.
There are so many conflicting emotions about this book. The writing was magnificent and outstanding, but the story itself failed to pull me in. The unreliable narrators were very hard to connect with and the story was predictable. I adored the writing but disliked the story. The struggle is real. I won’t be dissuaded by this book, though. I’ve heard tons of good things about Amy Zhang’s Falling into Place so I will definitely be giving that shot!
Rating: 3 fish