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At the End of Everything

At the End of Everything

by Marieke Nijkamp

Narrated by Justis Bolding, Kevin R. Free, Laura Knight Keating, Theresa Buchheister

Unabridged — 9 hours, 54 minutes

Marieke Nijkamp

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Overview

They've been left to die. Can they figure out how to live?

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 the group is 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.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

12/06/2021

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. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

"The beautifully written, lyrical prose enhances this riveting, fast-paced thriller that may hit very close to home for readers struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic. The alternating first-person narratives and interspersed phone call transcripts keep readers close to the action and occasionally will bring them close to tears." — Kirkus Reviews" — Kirkus Reviews

"...A well informed and beautifully written story about a group of people facing insurmountable odds that nothing in life can prepare you for. It's the book of our times." — Teen Librarian Toolbox

"Thrilling, raw, and unforgettable. A story about humanity, resilience, and hope. I couldn't put this book down. The story felt so real! Nijkamp at their best!" — Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures

"A poignant pandemic story... shining a bright light on the incarcerated and forgotten" — The Guardian

"At the End of Everything reaches a broad audience for anyone wanting to read more LGBTQ+, disability awareness, juvenile incarceration narratives, or anyone who just loves post-apocalyptic storylines. The novel successfully builds tension, leaving the reader in suspense with the inability to put the book down. The ending will leave readers astonished as this action-packed novel keeps it going right to the end" — New Orleans Review

"At the End of Everything is a beautifully rendered, propulsive survival story that speaks to how quickly and irrevocably the world can change—and who those in power choose to leave behind. Taut and tense and truly moving, this gripped me from the opening shocks to the last perfect words." — Nova Ren Suma, bestselling author of The Walls Around Us

"This story is unsettling and haunting but also filled with hope showing what happens when a group comes together to establish a community, a sense of belonging, and a certainty that didn't exist before." — School Library Journal

"An engrossing read focused on the teens whom the system often neglects." — Popsugar

"You can always count on Nijkamp for queer thrillers that explore the extremely human sides of terrifying situations." — Buzzfeed

"If you are looking for that instant kick to get you going this new year, Nijkamp's new novel will certainly inspire you to live as if your life depends on it." — Bookstr

"This compulsive YA postapocalyptic novel shows how the "problem" teens society would rather forget can step up and make things better when given the respect they deserve." — Buzzfeed

"This timely, action-packed tale told from multiple points of view will have readers tearing through the pages." — B&N Buzz

School Library Journal

03/01/2022

Gr 9 Up—The guards and staff of the ironically named Hope Juvenile Treatment Center near Sam's Throne, AR, start acting strangely. Then one night they're gone, leaving the teens, who already felt forgotten and left behind, alone. After an initial escape, the group runs into a literal road block and are told about a virus. They head back to Hope to make another plan. Everyone is under lockdown orders; through some research, the teens learn that there has been an outbreak of pneumonic plague, which is extremely contagious with a high fatality rate. Some of the teens attempt another escape, while the rest choose to stay behind to try to create a sustainable living environment. Then the coughing begins. While this is not supposed to be a COVID tale, Nijkamp has crafted a story that is more realistic commentary on our current situation and less a thriller set in a post-apocalyptic future. There's lots of representation among the cast of characters, and while none really receives the deepest dive, readers are given the opportunity to see the situation through the cast's alternating perspectives. This story is unsettling and haunting but also filled with hope showing what happens when a group comes together to establish a community, a sense of belonging, and a certainty that didn't exist before. VERDICT A not-so-subtle nod to our current landscape that might be too soon for some teen readers.—Alicia Kalan

Kirkus Reviews

2021-10-26
The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center, run by private corporation Better Futures, is home to 31 young adults and the harsh, abusive officers who guard them.

When yersinia pestis modernis, a new strain of the medieval plague, rips through the country, leaving death and destruction in its wake, the guards at the Hope Center, indifferent to their teenage charges’ fates, abandon their posts. Left to fend for themselves in a world that forgot about them during a crisis, the kids left behind in a remote part of the Ozarks have to learn how and whom to trust and, above all else, what to do in order to survive. When Leah falls ill, Grace, Emerson, and Logan (who is Leah’s twin sister) work together to keep each other safe as best they can despite facing disease and death. Nonbinary Emerson is grappling with their Catholic faith, and neurodiverse Logan rarely speaks, communicating with Leah using their own invented sign language. The beautifully written, lyrical prose enhances this riveting, fast-paced thriller that may hit very close to home for readers struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic. The alternating first-person narratives and interspersed phone call transcripts keep readers close to the action and occasionally will bring them close to tears. Main characters are White; the supporting characters are racially diverse.

A gripping story about marginalized citizens navigating a global pandemic. (content warning, trans support resource, author's note) (Thriller. 14-18)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176031935
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 01/25/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

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