Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

this-is-where-the-world-ends

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: March 21, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Goodreads || Book Depository

Janie and Micah. Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been since they were children, when Janie Vivian 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.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for providing a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I first heard about this book last year at HarperCollin’s BTCYA event and I fell in love with it after hearing the pitch that was given. It was one of my most anticipated books of the first half of 2016, so I was a little bit scared and hesitant after hearing some mixed things about it from other bloggers. However, I found the story and plot to be wonderful and insightful, and I highly enjoyed it. What I wasn’t as big of a fan of were the characters, but I’ll go into that a little bit more later in my review.

This book is written in dual perspectives and from two different timelines that alternate with each chapter. I highly enjoyed this non-linear format and thought it was very reminiscent of I’ll Give You the Sun, which is my favourite YA novel of all time. From Micah’s perspective, we learn about the present (or the ‘after’) and what happens when he wakes up with no memory of something big that happened in his small town. From Janie’s perspective, we learn about the ‘before’ and the events that occurred in the months leading up to the big incident in town. Through the alternating chapters of past and present, we’re able to put together the pieces of the puzzle and figure out what happened. I really enjoyed this process and thought the format of the book was very successful in creating an atmospheric and suspenseful story. There were a couple of things that I thought were a bit predictable but they didn’t impact too much on my enjoyment of the book and its plot. I have to admit that for the first half of the novel, I wasn’t sure where the book was going and felt slightly apathetic about it, but something happened near the halfway point of the book, which pulled me into the story and gave me a better sense of what the book was trying to explore. I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book much more.

The writing in this book was wonderful and I was amazed by how well Amy Zhang can write. She uses some interesting syntax that added to the impact of the story. The writing was lyrical but easy to read, and I just loved how she was able to make me feel so many emotions with the way she put sentences together. The book also had some fairytale influences, which gave it a slightly magical quality. These were accompanied by beautiful illustrations/doodles, which brought the story to life. I thought it was highly creative and imaginative (and I recently found out from Aentee @ Read at Midnight that Amy Zhang did the illustrations in the book herself, which makes me admire her even more).

My problem with this book was that I couldn’t connect with and didn’t particularly like the two main characters. Janie is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the core and I couldn’t really handle her. She’s definitely put on a pedestal by Micah and I just couldn’t see what was so special about her. She was the larger-than-life and interesting character who we were all supposed to admire, but I thought she was quite dislikeable. She was manipulative and a terrible friend to Micah. She forced him into doing things and constantly told him how great they were as friends, but then ignored him when other people were around. And what really bothered me was that he kept coming back for more of this terrible treatment. The characterisation in this book just reminded me of everything that I didn’t like about Paper Towns by John Green.

I actually didn’t mind Micah’s character. For most of the book, he suffered from amnesia and couldn’t remember anything that had happened recently or retain new memories. I liked that he was an unreliable narrator because it added to the story and made me work hard at figuring out what had happened. However, I thought that he was far too passive at times and allowed Janie to push him around again and again. He just seemed like a lost puppy for most of the book and I wished that his character was stronger.

But despite the issues I had with the characterisation, I enjoyed the plot and thought the book explored a lot of issues that are relevant to today’s society, including mental health and sexual orientation. I definitely still do recommend this book even though the characters weren’t to my liking.

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22 thoughts on “Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

  1. transhaan says:

    Been seeing this book everywhere now πŸ™‚ Good review you got there pointing out the fact that you didnt connect with the characters! I think that’s one of the main points why I would give a book a bad grade too. Feeling related or justing connected to them a little bit can help so much in our reading experience

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I think most of the other reviews I’ve seen have mentioned that the characterisation isn’t great, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me. The actual story and messages in the book were fantastic so I can kind of overlook the unrelatable characters. Also, the author is a teen so I think the characterisation will come with more life experience πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • transhaan says:

        Wow whenever I relaized the author is a teen it makes me so happy like we could actually do this .. LOL altho Im no longer a teen but more of young adult bbwahah πŸ˜„

        Like

  2. Zara @ Foxing Pages says:

    have you read Falling into Place? which one do you like better? I’ve never read any of Amy Zhang’s books but I’m planning to get into Falling into Place ASAP. I agree with you that Zhang is a talented person by the way she illustrates her books by herself and writes so beautifully.

    I nominated your beautiful blog for the Liebster Award. Here’s the post where I nominate you: https://foxingpages.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/the-liebster-award/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I haven’t read Falling Into Place yet but I’ve heard lots of amazing things about it. I think I might check that one out soon because the writing in this one was super good. I really want to check out some of Amy Zhang’s other stuff!

      Like

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah, the plot was super good in this one. It explored a lot of really important issues and I thought they were handled pretty well. If you like unreliable narrators, you’ll love Micah in this one. I don’t read a lot of unreliable narrators but I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Great review, thank you so much! You got me when you quoted I’ll Give You The Sun, I’ll admit it. (you made me obsessed about that book. Thank you, haha.) It sounds like an interesting story, I’m so sad to hear you didn’t like the character so much. Since I enjoyed Paper Towns, I’m thinking that maybe I will enjoy that one a bit more than you did? Thank you! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      If you enjoyed Margo and Q in Paper Towns you’ll probably like Janie and Micah in this one! They definitely had lots of similarities. I think the plot in this book is much better than the plot in Paper Towns! Nothing will ever beat I’ll Give You the Sun in my book though!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ambitioniskey says:

    Falling into Place by Amy Zhang is one of my fav books of all time. Honestly, this is one of my most anticipated books of all time!!
    I’m quite disappointed that you didn’t love it and I’m honestly scared to pick it up fearing that I wouldn’t too :/
    Great review though, I loved it!β™₯

    Jumana @ Books by Jay

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Valerie says:

    I’m now interested in this interesting syntax. Like just weird word ordering? Anyways. I admit that I was put off by some of the mixed reviews of this book, but I did like her debut novel, so I may still give it a shot? But probably later on!

    Awesome review Jenna! Sorry to hear you didn’t care much for the characters. Maybe I’ll have better luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      There’s a little bit of interesting syntax and wording… but mostly a really interesting mix of short and long sentences. It was just really interesting to read. I absolutely loved the writing and it made me want to pick up Falling into Place. The plot was quite good too, though there were some predictable elements. I think you should give it a go though because I enjoyed the messages that the book contained!

      Like

  6. Zoe says:

    I really enjoyed Falling into Place so I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this Jenna – even if you didn’t necessarily love it. It’s a shame that the characterization fell a bit flat for you, but it sounds like the writing and plot make up for that. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      The writing and plot were definitely fantastic and made me want to pick up Falling into Place! Just a shame that I couldn’t connect with the characters because if they had been a bit more likeable it could have easily been a 4.5-5 star book!

      Like

  7. Ksenia says:

    I’m still on the fence about this book, Jenna. The books where I don’t feel connection with characters rarely work for me, and I’m afraid I would have troubles with the characterizations in this book too. Thanks for your thoughtful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah, the characters were pretty hard to connect with but I think the plot really made up for it. It explores some really important and current issues and I thought everything was handled really well. It’s a pretty quick read as well and the reading experience was pretty enjoyable, despite the characterisation.

      Like

  8. Romi says:

    I was just looking at that cover in more detail and it’s really quite beautiful. I can tell, although I know only a little about the book, that there’s quite a lot of meaning to it and those covers make me really happy, ones that really relate to the story. I like them a lot. But darn that this was less spectacular than you’d hoped, especially since it sounds like you were mega excited for it. I had the same issue with Paper Towns, so to hear that is present here, even if you were able to enjoy other aspects of the story, still makes me less likely to read it.
    Lovely review. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      The cover is definitely a wonderful one if you look at all the little details! It conveys so much, but makes even more sense when you’ve read the book. It was a bit of a shame that the characters weren’t for me, and they were so similar to Margo and Q from Paper Towns that I was a bit put off. But the plot and writing were amazing and definitely redeemed it for me!

      Like

  9. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    We are like brain twin as far as this book is concerned πŸ˜„ Boo on the characters who I could not understand – I felt Janie’s dilemma should have been treated with a bit more gravitas as well. But I freaking love the writing, I am definitely going to put whatever this lady writes next onto my to-read list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I was a bit heartbroken for Janie and how everything unfolded for her. Especially since there wasn’t any resolution to it, which is completely understandable and realistic… BUT IT’S NOT FAIR T_T. I’m totally going to pick up Falling into Place though because I can’t get enough of her writing style ❀

      Like

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