Funny story: I was given this book in an airport. I was flying Cape Air, which is a teeny-tiny airline that mainly flies from Boston to Cape Cod, but that I was taking from Boston via Albany to a small town called Ogdensburg up near my school. When I got to the gate, one of the stewardesses had a big stack of books she was giving away. She had about four copies of this one, and it looked interesting, so I took it. I put it aside for almost a year, assuming it would be crappy/weird, but I picked it up out of boredom and was pleasantly surprised.
The End of Everything is narrated by Lizzie, a thirteen-year-old girl growing up in the suburbs in the late 80’s. It’s the end of 8th grade, and she and her best friend Evie are excited to spend the summer together, like they do every year—sleepovers almost every night, playing field hockey to practice for team tryouts, and sharing absolutely everything with one another. This all changes when Evie suddenly disappears one day after school. Lizzie was the last person to see her, and thus makes it her mission to figure out what happened to her friend. She must first discover, though, who Evie really was, and what secrets she was hiding.
This is a very good mystery. It was quick and easy and gripping, which is what I was looking for—the perfect beach read. It’s scary at parts and completely absorbing, which I think is because it’s told in the first person, and you really become close to Lizzie through the novel. She’s a great protagonist—vulnerable, uncertain, smart, and, by turns, both childish and adult beyond her years. It’s interesting, though, because Evie is the real main character of the book; Lizzie’s just there to tell the story. At times I felt a bit disconnected from her, simply because we only get a sense of her life in relation to Evie. I don’t think we even learn her name until 15 or so pages in. This works, though, because it shows how close the two girls were—that fierce attachment you can only have has a young girl. The book even points that out, describing them in one scene as not being able to identify whose limbs were whose as they lie in bed together.
This was also surprisingly literary. Abbott is a fantastic writer. It’s very very lyrical, with gorgeous images and descriptions that are incredibly striking. I was very impressed, which was totally unexpected—I thought this would be a very standard mystery, but it really transcends the genre and tweaks it in unusual ways. The style was actually one of my favorite aspects of the book—it completely draws you in and immerses you in the plot.
Overall, I definitely recommend this. A very good, very quick read.