From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends comes another heartbreaking, emotional and timely page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.
Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don't show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There's a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they're stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.
As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.
Also by Marieke Nijkamp:
This Is Where It Ends
Even If We Break
Before I Let Go
Praise for Marieke Nijkamp:
"Immersive and captivating. Thrilling in every sense of the word."—Karen M. McManus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us is Lying on Even If We Break
"With exceptional handling of everything from mental illness to guilt and a riveting, magic realist narrative, this well wrought, haunting novel will stick with readers long after the final page."—Booklist on Before I Let Go *STARRED REVIEW*
"A compelling, brutal story of an unfortunately all-too familiar situation: a school shooting. Nijkamp portrays the events thoughtfully, recounting fifty-four intense minutes of bravery, love, and loss."—BookRiot on This Is Where It Ends
The young adults who inhabit private company run Hope Juvenile Treatment Center in rural Arkansas lead highly structured, strictly supervised lives, so it comes as a shock when they wake one morning to discover the doors unlocked and the brutal staff gone. A group heads on foot for the nearest town but finds the road blocked by armed soldiers, who order their retreat: the state is on lockdown thanks to an extremely contagious, frequently fatal respiratory illness. After an incident when a boy rushes the barricade, his companions return to Hope and update the others. Eight opt to escape and brave the wilderness; the remaining 22 stay put, divvying up chores and rationing supplies. They assume someone will come for them, but as time passes, provisions dwindle and the disease spreads, triggering desperation and discord. Three white teens narrate, including one nonbinary character and one neurodivergent twin who communicates via a personal sign language; the supporting cast is ethnically diverse. Palpable fear and paranoia contribute to breathless pacing, while Nijkamp (Even If We Break) employs a clever setup and keenly wrought characters to sensitively explore topics of ableism, racism, transphobia, and juvenile justice reform. Ages 14 up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary.
The End.. and a new Beginning
About 15 teenagers find a way to survive a pandemic and hunger after their jailers and government abandon them. The kids explore their pasts as they realize that a system that doesn’t care about them or justice is a huge part of their lives, and decide for themselves what kind of lives they will make for themselves going forward.
Tragic but needed more
At The End Of Everything is a young adult contemporary novel about a group of teens stuck in a juvenile treatment center during an outbreak of a deadly disease.
This novel is told in alternating POVs between several of the inmates of the Arkansas “Hope Juvenile Center” which was meant to be a place of rehabilitation and turns into a nightmare as the guards and staff leave and never return. The inmates quickly discover that the world is in the middle of a deadly and highly contagious plague and they’ve been left to fend for themselves. As the group of teens try to contact the outside world, gather their dwindling food supplies and treat the sick they reflect on the various circumstances that got them where they were. These aren’t inherently bad kids but smart and sensitive children abandoned by their families and then once again by a system paid to care for them.
Although the author made attempts to give each character their own voice (Emerson the religious non-binary musician, Logan the twin with mutism, Grace the former foster youth that dreams of finding her biological father) I still struggled identifying each one as I read. And what should have been a gripping and tense read sometimes fell flat with a lot of details about finding food, digging graves and inner dialogue. It also could have used a little more zing with more action and snappier dialogue. Every student is just so earnest and woebegone the the injection of a little “gallows humor” could have gone a long way.
Overall this was a thoughtful read and many readers will recognize similarities to the Covid crisis but I needed a little more oomph.
3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️