Monday, 7 March 2016

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis is a realistic (and unsettling) apocalyptic novel

On the Edge of GoneTitle: On the Edge of Gone
Series: N/A
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic
Publication: March 8th 2016, Amulet Books
Pages: 464 Pages, Hardcover
Source: Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book to review! This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.
January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.
Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.
A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?
When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Apocalyptic novels are one of my favorite kinds of novels. Horrifying and fascinating collide when you're reading about the possible end, reading about the very probable possibility of what could become of the planet we call home. The destruction of humanity. The destruction of us. On the Edge of Gone dealt with the obliteration of the earth in a highly realistic manner. It was bleak, it was dark, it highlighted the desolate conditions the less fortunate were left in and the dizzying fight of survival. There wasn't a romance that made this hellish Armageddon seem less hopeless, less terrifying. It was real and it was raw. It tackled questions that I hope we'll never have to be faced with and it was a jolting reminder of the fragile edge we teeter on.
On the Edge of Gone follows the life of sixteen year old Denise, one of the survivors of a comet impact that plunged the earth into darkness. Tsunamis ravage the earth, earthquakes shake the barren terrain and the invasion of the ice cold depths of the ocean and the disappearance of the sun means the people who didn't have the opportunity to be sent up into space on a generation ship have a microscopic chance of survival. When Denise and her mom stumble upon a generation ship that is currently in repairs preparing for launch day, they're promised a place on board for no more than two days. A fiery determination burns in Denise to get a secure place for her, her mom and her sister - who's still missing. Denise is determined to make herself useful, make sure she proves herself, despite having autism and having to worry about her drug addict mother, she will do anything in order to save herself and her family.
I really enjoyed On the Edge of Gone. I loved the voice of the main character, the diversity, the writing style and the uncomfortable but necessary questions the book raises. 
The only thing I had a *slight* problem with was the book wasn't very fast-paced and there weren't many action scenes, however, I appreciate that the author didn't include that as it made the book all the more realistic. I think a lot of the times books and movies misrepresent Doomsday as action-packed when in reality it's people who are broken down and suffering, trying to find the flame within them to survive. People too exhausted to fight, people too shattered to distrust - mere ghosts, shells of who they used to be. I think that's what made On the Edge of Gone so unnerving - it depicted the reality of the end of the world so brilliantly, it emphasized how fragile our sense of normality is, how simple it is for the world to be swept away by a rock that hurtles towards our planet from outer space.
I think the thing I loved most about On the Edge of Gone is the main character, Denise. Denise is such a diverse, unique character: not only is she biracial but she also has autism. What I loved the most though, is that it felt real. It didn't feel like the author haphazardly through as many diverse topics in this book as possible, it felt like that was just how the characters were and I really appreciated that. Also, I've never read a book where the main character is autistic and I found this book very enlightening on the subject. The author wrote Denise spectacularly well and it was so refreshing reading a book where the main character isn't this bold, perfect, rebellious heroine. She wasn't unrealistically unflinching in the face of disaster - Denise was real and incredibly unique, she struggled with the catastrophic turn of events, she had an inner war between what she was feeling and what she thought she should be feeling. She was scared and she was vulnerable but she had a fierce tenacity despite all that. I absolutely adored Denise. 
The other characters were complex and real too. It was easy to distinguish between all the characters and they all had vibrant personalities that made it easy to immerse oneself in their stories. 
I also really, really appreciated the fact that this book didn't contain romance. That despite their being a potential love interest in the form of Max, Denise never obsessed over him. She was too busy trying to save herself and her family and it was such a breath of fresh air seeing a character that had more important things on her mind than getting into a relationship. I'm pretty sure that if we're ever faced with the situation Denise was in, the last thing on our mind would be how hot a boy on the spaceship is. 
Another thing I love is the family dynamics. Denise and her sister's relationship was so heartwarming. The lengths Denise would go to in order to save her sister, the amount of times she would push herself mentally and physically in order to prove herself on the ship in hopes of at least getting a chance of saving her family, well, it broke my heart. Iris was also such a spectacular big sister. It warmed my heart whenever Iris stood up for Denise or tried sheltering her from the things that might hurt her, not only that but she was so positive and like Denise, so brave. It was so wonderful seeing sisters that were so supportive towards each other, so close and so protective, sisters that would lay their life down for one another. Denise and Iris are one of my new favorite sister duos.

The relationship between Denise and her mother is complicated and I felt just as torn as Denise did when it came to her mother. Denise's mom is a drug addict and although she tries to help her daughter and tries to help others in an attempt to feel wanted, needed, yet she still indulges in the deadly dance with her demons which makes Denise feel quite insecure and insignificant. The one thought that always occurs to her is, "If she loved me so much, if she really cared, why doesn't she make an effort to be clean?". It was quite haunting seeing - what I can imagine is - the realistic depiction of a user's daily battle with their addiction. It was quite terrifying when one arrives at the realisation that nothing, not even the end of the world, can break the longing for that deadly powder. It was also quite an emotionally tiring situation that Denise had to struggle with. She loves her mother and wants her on board with her, but she also knows that the people aboard the ship are going to hold her mother in a hostile light, they'll view her as a waste of space, a leech of the supplies. They view Denise's mother as someone with nothing to offer, nothing to contribute. It was quite torturous seeing Denise's trouble between wanting for her mother and knowing that she'll most likely stay the same troubled and at times distant mother that she was even before the end began. This brings me to my next point:
On the Edge of Gone wasn't afraid to ask the ruthless yet imperative questions  - who is worth saving? And how can you justify favoring one human life over another? This was an extremely thought-provoking read and breathtakingly honest in the questions it posed. It broke my heart to see all these people desperate, pleading, their hope fading as they tried to save their family from the clawing hands of the grave that awaits. It shattered my heart further to feel myself understanding why some people had to be saved and others didn't have much of a chance to be rescued. How can we save someone just by viewing the worth of their life by what they're able to offer? It felt so unfair yet fair at the same time and I think that was the most horrifying thing of all - understanding and seeing the requirement to save some people and not others. It's heartbreaking as we're all someone to somebody, we're all worth saving, but when Armageddon arrives only a select few can survive. On the Edge of Gone reveals to us how twisted our mindset is on how we the distinguish between the worth of some people's lives and not others.

On the Edge of Gone is brilliant executed in the way it portrays the harrowing aftermath of a disaster that causes the death of the earth with ferocious honesty. It gave us a glimpse into the disaster that could occur in the future - everything that happened in this book could potentially happen to us and that makes On the Edge of Gone quite an unsettling novel to read at times, but a necessary one. With heart-stopping moments, delectable writing that I wanted to submerge myself in and terrifying questions, On the Edge of Gone is a must read.
I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!
"I look at the sky and the dust that separates us from the stars that will be my home. I breathe in the night air, the rotten night air, and I miss,
I miss,
I miss." 
"'If I survive, it won't be at anyone else's expense. That's not the way I want us to go out.'"
"But if what my head feels like now truly is what other people feel all the time - if everybody I see on the street or on TB really manages this day in, day out -
They can't be.
The world can't be that hard."  
"She might not be lying because of me. Dad night not have left because of me. Mom might not be addicted because of me. But I'm not enough to make them stop, either."

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