The End of the World Is Bigger Than Love

Text. Aug. 2021. 288p. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781922268822.
Gr 9 Up–In this perplexing work of speculative fiction, identical twins Summer and Winter, who are white and 15 years old, are living an isolated life in a church on an island, without their parents. Their mother is deceased and their father was taken away because of his participation in the cataclysm that led to the loss of the Internet, a pandemic called The Greying (which causes a person’s skin to turn gray, killing them quickly), and a climate crisis. Summer and Winter believe they are secluded. One day a brown-skinned boy, Edward, is found on the island. Summer describes Edward as “the bear” with animal-like features, while Winter describes Edward as a human boy with whom she falls madly in love; he is not a fully developed character and serves more to further the girls’ story. This story is told in alternating chapters, in which the distressing circumstances of their past and how they came to be alone on the island intersect and conflict, forcing readers to take sides and examine which version of events is the truth. Bell’s poetic prose draws out the progression of this elaborate story about grief and the challenges of romance. The atmospheric tone places the teens in a vivid setting that plays an intricate part in the mystery of these complex and introspective sisters. Their love of reading, inherited from their mother, as well as pop culture references such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” will bring a familiarity to readers.
VERDICT A puzzling, atmospheric novel that will require multiple reads.

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