I don’t know what I fully think of this book. I’m mixed. I liked elements, but I think ultimately I was underwhelmed by the execution. This will not be a spoiler-free review because I can’t really do that, but I will give a spoiler-free description. After that, you’re on your own:
The book follows the lead character, Keeley, as she grapples with the end of her town, along with the day-to-day struggles of family, friendships, and a budding relationship. It’s YA fiction with an apocalyptic title without actually being sci-fi or fantasy. The title and dust jacket description don’t really give you a good idea for the kind of book you’re about to read.
Ok, that’s over. Possibly my main gripe is going to come back to how the book was sold. You could take the same title and description and go a very different direction. At the same time, you don’t need the title and description to write the basic story that was written. At the same time, it’s a story that’s worth telling. I just don’t think I liked the execution.
The book follows a girl as her town deals with a flood and then an impending damming that’s forcing the residents to leave. In the midst of this, she begins dating the guy of her dreams, ruins a couple of friendships, and watches her family life heal and then fracture worse than before.
Generally, I’d say the book is either about bad people trying to make good decisions or good people who keep making bad decisions. Through the course of the book, you watch Keeley constantly make bad decisions while people are making bad decisions around her. I think that’s probably why I never got into the book. There was never anyone to root for. Everyone’s engaging in petty, passive-aggressive behavior. You can’t really call anyone good. I think her mom and her mom’s best friend might be the only ones I root for, but I have trouble even rooting for the mom’s friend (who’s the mom of Keeley’s best friend) because her and her daughter are so close, and the daughter is one of the most passive aggressive characters in the book.
Maybe it’s like Wuthering Heights for me. You’ve got people playing games the whole time instead of actually communicating, but then in the last page the author makes it seem like everything’s better, but it’s not, really. You’ve got a girl who’s become untethered. Her home life got fractured, and while that’s getting better, she’s not actually involved in the betterment. Betterment’s a word? I just typed it hoping for the best and didn’t get a squiggle. Score one for reading too much for one’s own good. But let’s get back on topic. The friend is gone. Her boyfriend is gone. Her new boyfriend at the end lives 10 hours away and is a bit of an asshole even when he’s trying to be a good guy.
At the end of the day, if you have no one to root for, it’s hard to read. A Song of Ice and Fire (’cause I’ve read the books, and I’m sticking with the real series title) is brutal to read. People do terrible things. Characters are killed off constantly (until the magic of the Lord of Light brings them back to life; if you’ve just seen the show and not read the books, I’ve got news for you. More than one person comes back from the dead). But in all this brutality, violence, etc., there are characters to root for. You have two Stark family members worth rooting for and a third who isn’t actively a problem (sorry, but Sansa isn’t going to be forgiven for her Book 1 actions any time soon). You’ve got two Lannisters who have interesting POVs. These are people you might actually want to succeed. In The Last Boy and Girl in the World, and I didn’t want to root for anyone. They were all kind of terrible.
But here’s the thing, it was still an interesting story from a bigger perspective, but the characters were awful people a lot of the time, and the writing was clunky. I still go three stars on Goodreads, but I have no plans to reread this one. It will take up space on my bookshelf until it’s time to move, and then it will be extra weight to carry to the next place I live.