I Hope You Get This Message

HarperTeen. Oct. 2019. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062741455.
Gr 8 Up–What if Earth were a grand experiment by a group of alien scientists on a planet we never even knew existed? What if, seven days from now, the experiment was scheduled to end and all of the test specimens marked for termination? And what if the fate of all humans hinged on the deliberations of a group of aliens light years away? Jesse is a troubled kid living with his overworked mom, struggling to find his purpose in the almost abandoned community of Roswell. Adeem is a gifted coder bored with school and longing to understand why his sister left their family years prior. Cate has her hands full taking care of her mentally ill mother. When the planet Alma announces its deliberations and intent to end the experiment they call Project Epoch, everyone on Earth reacts to the potential end of the world differently, and these three are pushed to get answers to the questions that haunt them. Will they find the answers they seek before Alma finishes its deliberations? The book is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of its three protagonists. The main characters are well-crafted and, while their motives are all different, the desperation and need to complete their tasks comes across as genuine. Telling an end-of-the-world story can sometimes feel melodramatic, but Rishi chooses to focus her narrative on her characters and their individual struggles as opposed to the world at large, keeping the story personal. The tone and pace are well balanced and there are even a few touches of humor to help lighten the mood.
VERDICT An entertaining, well-written coming-of-age story set during the end of the world.

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