Book Review for Things to do Before the End of the World by Emily Barr

Posted April 27, 2021 by brokengeekdesigns in blogtour, Bookreview / 4 Comments

Author- Emily Barr

Title- Things to do Before the End of the World

Publisher- Penguin

Publication Date- May 13 20221

Genre- YA contemporary future

Comments- I was given a free copy from Netgalley and @the_writereads in exchange for an honest review. The impending end of the world had no influence on my opinion.

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  1. Live your best life.
    2. Uncover family secrets.
    3. Trust no one

    What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
    You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?

    Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?

    Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more.
    And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.

    But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .


If you have read my blog before (and if not, why not?) you might know that I am a huge fan of the end of the world genre. Apocalypse, zombie uprising, weather patterns and so on, basically disaster movies are my kind of thing and any book which takes the opportunity to wipe out half the planet is great. (Yes, I was on Thanos’s side, why do you ask?)

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So when I saw the cover and title for this I didn’t even wait to read the synopsis. I had this book in my tbr faster than… a fast thing. (I currently have a level two headache so my brain is not working at full capacity)

Alas when I started to read it I was a tad let down by the actual content.

(Does anyone else say Alas anymore?)

Olivia is a teenage girl with extreme social anxiety. As the world is about to end due to extreme weather patterns, she laments the fact that her anxiety made it so that she never really got to live. So, with the help of her newfound cousin, Natasha, she sets out to conquer some of her bucket -list before the end.

From actually attending a party, signing up to be drama club Juliet or talking to her crush, Olivia wants to get it all done.

In fact the whole thing seems to be about Olivia’s feelings towards her crush and her attempts to be more sociable.

I got to 49% and gave up. There was nothing about the end of the world, no survivor stories or people desperately trying to reconnect. There was no scientific explanations for what was happening or really much information about it at all.

In fact, as far as I read, there was no real reason for this to be set during the ‘end times’. It could have easily been modern-day any time.

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Everyone is still going to school or work, all emergency services have continued and the apocalypse seems to have very little impact on anything.

If you only had a few months to live the very last thing I’d do would be to go to work- especially if I were a waitress or hotel receptionist.

The fact that Olivia moved around Europe with her cousin and nothing was affected- trains, planes, hotels- needed me to suspend more disbelief than I was capable of.

According to the synopsis, Natasha isn’t what she seems, and the book becomes somewhat more of a thriller than a contemporary romance/ coming of age but it wasn’t what I signed up for so I didn’t get that far.

Whilst I had sympathy for Olivia’s social anxiety, I did find her writing myriads of letters that she never sent to be sad and a little foreshadowing of later plot holes. (Oh, they get sent to her crush somehow enabling her to say all the things she’s ever wanted to say but never had the courage- how fortuitous!) I’ve never been fond of the convenience of contrivances to fill the plot so again this didn’t sit well with me.

Perhaps if the cover hadn’t screamed tale of the apocalypse and the title hadn’t misled me into thinking it was a story that heavily featured the end of the world then I might have been more inclined to carry on reading.

Maybe if the cover and title had been different and was labelled a thriller in the vein of Holly Jackson, Karen McManus or M. A Bennett then it wouldn’t have bothered me so much.

In this case, however, definitely don’t judge a book by its cover.

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4 responses to “Book Review for Things to do Before the End of the World by Emily Barr

  1. So sorry this wasn’t what you had hoped! But thanks for the heads up because I too assumed this was about a major apocalypse.

  2. John Matts

    My Sentiments exactly. It looked like a really good idea but, then it kept being a case of, hang on a minute, why would you…….?

    • brokengeekdesigns

      I think the End of the world was just an excuse. They really could have set it at any time. Thank you for the review.

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