FICTION

The World Ends in April

Random. Sept. 2019. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524767617.
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Gr 3-7–Eleanor’s grandfather is a “prepper,” a person who takes preparing for disasters to a new level. She doesn’t enjoy participating in her grandfather’s emergency drills as much as she once did—that is, until she comes across a website run by a former Harvard professor that forecasts a devastating asteroid collision that will cause The End of the World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) in just a few months. Her grandfather’s influence makes it easy for Elle to become obsessed with preparing for the impact despite her father’s objections. Her mother died several years ago, so she can’t talk to her about it. It’s hard to tell if her best friend Mack believes her, but he goes along with her plans. Elle starts a club at school and writes a newsletter to teach fellow students survival skills. They drink toilet water through a filtration straw, pack Bug-Out Bags, and learn about edible plants, but when even Mack and new friend Londyn don’t take her warnings seriously enough, Elle ratchets up her efforts and lands in big trouble. The author does a good job of matching the pace of the writing to Elle’s state of mind; the more frantic and anxious Elle gets, the more quickly the action moves. It eventually becomes clear that each member of Elle’s covertly named “Nature Club” has a reason for wanting the world to end. Readers will be eager to see if TEOTWAWKI comes true (spoiler: it doesn’t) and how Eleanor handles returning to school after her alarming predictions fail to come true.
VERDICT A fast-paced story that deals with grief, loss, and mental health through the lens of middle school catastrophe. Recommended

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