Friday, February 4, 2011

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

I can see why they are comparing it to Lovely Bones, though I fear the writing is not of the same calibre.

The story is narrated by Lizzie, a thirteen year-old girl, who is the missing girl’s best friend.

A thirteen year-old girl, Evie, goes missing and all leads point to a male teacher , Mr Shaw, who lives in the same neighbourhood and who has also disappeared. As more evidence is found and witnesses tell their stories, so it becomes more apparent that Mr Shaw is the kidnapper. Or is he?

As Lizzie becomes more enveloped in Evie’s family (most importantly, Evie’s father), there is a line that is crossed between sympathy and finally receiving the attention from Evie’s father that Lizzie has so desperately craved. Feeling that the police are not doing an adequate search, Lizzie (13 year-old Lizzie) decides to take matters into her own hands and does some investigating of her own. Of course, she finds things that the police- with up-to-date technology and sniffer dogs- did not pick up. This makes the story turn into a bit of an American movie, where everything falls conveniently into place for the main character.

While the plot of the missing girl carries on, we are also introduced to Evie’s older sister, beautiful and athletic Dusty who Evie and Lizzy have always wanted to be, having the boy queue that Evie so easily has following after her. But Dusty is not as beautiful as a sister and a mentor and something happened the day of Evie’s disappearance that Dusty knows about, but will only barely hint at to Lizzie, through snide comments. Dusty has always been very close-almost unnaturally so-to her father and as he shows more grateful attention to Lizzie, so Dusty becomes more sinister towards Lizzie.

This books is disturbing; I found the way Abbott describes thirteen year-old girls’ thoughts to be far too complex and erotic for their age. Paedophilia is a very serious topic that, written in the wrong way, can take away from its depravity and look more like the thirteen year-old girl knew exactly what she was doing and she is but a woman stuck in a little girl’s body. This is the impression that I received at times from The End of Everything. This is not to say that Abbott is an intentionally acrimonious writer, or a poor one at that. Writing as a child, using their words, thinking their thoughts is no easy task and I I think the topic is too raw for Megan Abbott’s style.

Expressing my opinion however, I still think this book will do well because of the intensity of the theme and Abbott does do a good job of subtly bringing Histrionic Personality disorder into the book that can be picked up throughout the story. There is a certain vulnerability that hooks the reader and I had to finish it to know where Evie is/what has happened to her.

If you are going to push this as a cross-over book, I would say the earliest age should be sixteen. The adolescent yearnings and complexities of the character are too advanced for anything younger.

In a sentence; This is Lovely Bones meets Harriet the Spy (for adults)

- Review by Tarryn Talbot


TheBookGirl said...

Your review gave me a real sense of this book and let me know this is not one for me...thanks for the info :)

Anonymous said...

The writing is about 8 billion times better than The Lovely Bones. That book was trite and cheesy. I did not care for it, but I loved The End of Everyhing.

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