Cover Image: Things to do Before the End of the World

Things to do Before the End of the World

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Member Reviews

Things to do Before the End of the World is a powerful coming of age story that reminds the reader that our impact on the environment could mean our ultimate extinction.

What I Liked

The timing of this story is even more impactful because of our current world situation.  Much like the environment in the story, I don’t think anyone believed our world would come to a standstill due to a disease.  Beyond comprehension, with our explosive advancements in every area, anything cannot be quickly neutralized so that our lives remain the same.  But, as we have seen, that isn’t true.  That made me think twice about the story’s message as I imagine it will other YA readers – young and old.

I found Olivia’s coming of age story to also be impactful in an unexpected, inspiring manner.  She starts the story as a girl who is scared to live her life – to enjoy everything life has to offer, even if it is right in front of her.  Olivia writes emails that she doesn’t send or intends to send to a girl for which she has feelings.  She keeps her circle very tight and doesn’t venture outside of that circle, considering invisibility to be her superpower until she meets her cousin through an email after learning about her existence.  Natasha has a significant impact on Olivia’s life, and the story of their relationship is such a compelling storyline that it is hard to put the book down once Natasha appears.

The pace stays quick throughout the story as I waited to see if life really would end on September 17.  It can’t end, right? Or can it?  I found myself imagining what the world would be like if everyone knew the exact day, it would end.  I pictured a society turning very hedonistic in my mind, but if you want to find Barr’s thoughts, you will have to pick up this book.  

This story has a lingering effect - my thoughts returning to what I would do if I knew the exact date the world would end.  I love that it has me asking tough questions of myself and society as a whole and making me contemplate if the changes I would make knowing the world was going to end are changes that I should be making now.

To Read or Not to Read

If you are ready to have your world change, this is the book that will take you there.
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I found this book to be an interesting read, I enjoyed most of the plot but occasionally felt things were not quite in keeping with the theme of the book and at times thought the plot was a little silly and unbelievable. But at the same time something in the writing kept me wanting to know more.
It may be the easy to read writing style used by the author. For me the pacing was a little off in places, more so during the first half of the book. The pacing in the second half felt more steadier and more to my liking.

I found the whole “The Creep” thing really interesting but feel that Barr needed to go into it in a bit more detail as we don’t really get to know much more about it except for what we learn at the beginning of the book. 

The characters were an interesting lot. I thought Barr has done a great job with them. I liked how we saw them develop as the book progressed. Especially the main character Olivia (Libby). 
Natasha, Libby’s long lost cousin, on the other hand, was a character I could decide if I liked or not. Especially as I found her behaviour to be a little weird at time and I wasn’t entirely sure whether to trust her or not.

Although I had a few issues with this book, it was definitely intriguing and fun read. This was my first book from this author but I will be looking into reading more from this author in the future.
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I was hoping that this would be a survival novel with post apocalyptic living but it really want.
This was far more about learning to live before you die and fulfilling your true potential.
As a character study it was good but not what I was hoping or expecting and I will admit that I got bored with the lack of action.
For fans of Holly Bourne and Cathy Cassidy but not really my cup of tea.
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What would you do if the world is about to end? Shy, awkward Libby finds herself trying to answer that very question when it’s announced the wold will end on the 17th of September. All she wants is to be more confident - maybe then she would finally be able to talk to the girl she likes. And when she discovers she has a long-lost cousin Natasha, Natasha seems to be the key to helping Libby gain confidence. But is Natasha truly what she seems?

This book has an interesting if bizarre premise. It definitely kept me hooked - once Natasha was introduced, I found the story really exciting and couldn’t put it down. I loved the exploration of Libby and her family and watching her character develop throughout the book. Natasha was also a highly interesting character, and she definitely made the book for me. Although some aspects of the plot were somewhat predictable, I really enjoyed it and was fully engrossed in the storyline. The story does require a big suspension of belief as the events don’t seem like they would happen in real life, but this is first and foremost a story about the world ending so nothing is going to be accurate. Overall I would recommend this book, I really liked the characters and the writing.
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I love Emily Barr’s adult books. I really do. I find them gripping and I love the travel aspect of the thrillers she wrote in years gone by. I’ve devoured each one and champion her books to friends and family, who’ve enjoyed them alongside me. 

But I’m really not too sure about her foray into the YA genre. Things To Do Before The End Of The World has those travel aspects which I love about her. Set in England, Spain and France, our protagonist Olivia is a shy late teen, struggling to find her voice.  She comes from a split family background, and is awkward and finds it hard to talk to people. The book starts as she pushes herself to audition for a play, starring as Juliet, alongside her crush Zoe (not currently single), who plays Romeo.  She then discovers she has a cousin from the US, who subsequently sets her more challenges to get her to overcome her nerves. She then meets Natasha in Spain and travel together, doing street magic and palmistry which Natasha teaches to Olivia. But predictably secrets are revealed along the way. 

The end of the world thing doesn’t really work for me. It’s a terrifying idea, which I doubt many YA’s would enjoy, especially in the pandemic world we currently live in - which is scary enough in itself to get your head around. I have a 15 year old daughter, and while I know she would enjoy the thriller side of the travel story, would struggle with the idea of The Creep (where the world is running out of oxygen), and the death of birds and dogs and other animals described.  I won’t be sharing this one with her for this reason. 

For me The Creep and the death of humankind just wasn’t really believable.  It could have been so much better as an adult themed novel, with more realistic situations. Tamed for the YA market perhaps, the story just had too many holes in it. I enjoyed the book however, but only by glossing over the voice in my head telling me that people just wouldn’t behave like the author describes. 

It won’t put me off reading more of Emily Barr’s books though. She has an easy writing style, and I would recommend the book to the person who could deal with the topic in the current climate. However not if you question what you’re reading maybe!
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I’m a big fan of Emily Barr, but this is the first of her four YA novels I’ve read. And I couldn’t put it down!

The story centres on Olivia, aka Libby, and a permafrost called ‘The Creep’ aka the end of the world, September 17th. There’s a lot of aliases in this book. 
It has elements of what’s actually happening in the world right now, or at least it’s believable enough that it could happen, which means it feels less sci-fi/dystopian and more mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in.  
Anyway, as the title gives away, this is all about what Libby does before the end of the world. There is way more to the storyline and I don’t want to give anything away, but I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this and especially the fact that we learn along the way with Libby.
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I couldn’t put this book down! I read it in one sitting, desperate to see where the story would go.

I started to feel like something was off with a certain character early on but couldn’t guess exactly what it was. I had a great time finding out!

I loved the journey Libby went on, despite everything she ended the story as a more confident, self-assured and happy individual.
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In her young adult novel,  THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE END OF THE WORLD , Emily Barr imagines a situation in which atmospheric changes doom the earth. “The Creep” as it is called, will end life in exactly nine months. People live out what might be their final days on earth in a strange mixture of dread, fear, and celebration (why not? We’re gonna die anyway?). There are also those who live in a state of near-normal, this last of which reminds me of all of our lives since the pandemic. 

Olivia , a high school girl with serious social anxiety, has to decide how to live her final days on earth. Will she continue with her (mostly) lonely existence, refusing to take risks in love, and wishing she could be like other teenagers who can do such apparently ordinary things as go to parties? Or will the prospect of a ticking time clock that counts down to the end of humanity cause Libby to finally do the things and say the things she wants?

And Libby is kind of special – if only she’d see it. For example, she takes part in a school play, performing a brilliant lead for Romeo and Juliet. She’s a doting sister to her younger half-siblings. She is loveable, charming, and funny. But she would like to tell her crush, Zoe, that she is in love with her. And she’d like to enjoy being around other people generally…if only she could figure out how.

And then, unexpectedly, Libby discovers she has an 18-year-old American cousin, Natasha. Natasha is a wildly uninhibited enthusiast who challenges Libby to take risks. 
When Libby’s family goes on what is likely to be their last holiday on earth, Natasha arrives to their rental house bringing her unusual exuberance, and whisks Libby off to explore Europe. She discloses that she’s psychic. No, really, Natasha hears voices in her head. It’s actually very well described. She talks about how she imagined everyone tuned into such voices and didn’t understand for a long time that she was different. And that her dreams sometimes ended up happening in real life. But she can’t predict the future: she doesn’t know whether the world really will end or scientists will come to the rescue. Meanwhile, they have a lot of living to do: and that’s where I have to stop describing this lovely, quirky book…because the spoilers would destroy the reading experience.

Natasha is much more than she seems at first, and nothing like what you’ll expect. Libby is capable of far more than she ever imagined. The two of them blaze through Europe living up their last days (and hoping they won’t be their last as scientists are working on the climate change that has brought on the end of the atmosphere and therefore human existence). Of course, everything unravels eventually, but the fun in the book is to find out how.  The novel’s chapters line up like a list of things to do before the end of the world, and I loved finding myself in its list of instructions.
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This is a YA thriller, however I wouldn't pick this book up if you were looking for the thriller aspect alone as the thriller aspect only even starts to build around forty percent onwards in my opinion. I loved the premise behind this book, and this is what originally tempted me to pick it up. I think the end of the world idea is fascinating, and that looking at human behaviour and different coping mechanisms would make for a great thriller storyline. However, the thriller side of things more follows another thread of storyline that is interlinked with the world ending. I didn't always enjoy the thriller side of things. I found the pacing to occasionally be a bit off, and the plot slightly silly and ridiculous. Yet I cannot deny that there was something about the writing that kept me going regardless.

I can't remember the last time a book left me so torn. I didn't just struggle with pacing issues and hatred for storyline but also for feeling like the first twenty percent felt like ticking boxes. You name it and practically any kind of diversity or representation popped up, to a ridiculous and unbelievable extent. If it had felt authentic, I'd have been all for it, as it was it just felt too much. This isn't to say that there weren't wonderful diversity aspects in this book, as there were, just the first twenty percent came on a bit too strong.

This all makes it sound like I didn't love this book, when truly I did. I think this book will stay with me for a long time to come. It gave me lots to think about, both in terms of what I would want to do if I were in that situation. What would I have done at that age in that situation would be an even more interesting direction. Meanwhile thoughts about our own mortality and how humans deal with that was touched upon regularly. Also the themes of family were at times incredibly heartwarming in this, and just incredibly wholesome at times. This is highly worth checking out, I just exercise caution that you may end up having a love hate relationship with this book too.
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This book made me think about what is important in life! 

It inspires the question – what would you want to do if you are given the date that you, and all life on earth, will die?

Told that the world is going to end, Libby knows she should be living her life to the full before ‘end times’ but how when she is incredibly shy?

This book played me like a champ! I was sucked right in, just like Libby (Olivia) was. A brilliant concept and plot. Set on the backdrop of human extinction we see Libby decide to grab hold of opportunities, and with the help of her cousin, break free from her (often crippling) social anxiety.

An adventure across Europe ensues with unexpected twists, and a constant sense of unease (is it just Libby being nervous and shy or is there something more to it?). Everyone is behaving differently, oddly, is it the thought of ‘end times’, or are there secrets that are being hidden? Not sure who she can trust Libby observes her cousin, her mum, and the things around her. She puts pieces together but can never quite make the puzzle fit.

The plot is thrilling, the characters are multifaceted and the atmosphere tense. I enjoyed following Libby’s adventure, coming out of herself, and growing up. She made some mistakes and trusted in people she shouldn’t but given the circumstances, you really can’t blame her! The ending is fabulous, it is as though Libby relaxes and breathes for the first time, but is it also her last?

Thank you so much to Penguin Random House Children’s UK for the e-arc and The Write Reads for inviting me to take part in the tour.
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Things to Do Before the End of the World follows Olivia, an introverted seventeen year old girl who, along with everyone else on the planet, has just discovered that she has less than a year to live. The world is ending and she realises quite suddenly that she has absolutely not been living life to the fullest.

When a long-lost cousin shows up and takes over the task of getting Olivia out of her shell by sweeping her through Europe and teaching her to perform street tricks, Olivia finds herself becoming an entirely new person. But the longer she spends with Natasha, the harder it is to figure her out.

What started as somewhat of a contemporary about a young girl changing her life for the better turned quickly into a page-turning thriller about revenge, mistrust and, as expected from the title, the impending end of the world. Olivia was a somewhat naïve girl who, in trying to become more outgoing, found herself completely wrapped up in a potentially-final summer that she absolutely didn’t sign up for, and it was fascinating to see her react to her situation in exactly the way a somewhat amenable but intelligent teenager might.

Natasha was a fascinating character, and my opinions about her changed back and forth so rapidly that I spent the majority of the book completely confused as to how I should feel about her. There was a side of this to most characters in this book, including Olivia’s mother even, so I was completely hooked and desperate to find out who to trust the entire way through.

It was hard to figure out where this book was going but the ending did not disappoint. Although I found some of the recapping and discussion towards the end slightly unnecessary, I was so shocked by some of the twists that the book didn’t lose its page-turning quality for a second, and I felt that the story was wrapped up and explained fairly tidily when everything was finally revealed.

This was a really fun, unputdownable story that combined the excitement of a coming-of-age contemporary with the suspense of a thriller. It was fast-paced and completely unpredictable and, if you’re looking for a book to devour in one go or a thriller to get hooked on, I would absolutely recommend it.
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I've loved all of Emily's other YA books, so was looking forward to reading this one. She's such a gifted writer for that age group, and again in this new book she handles her teen characters really well. It's a book about coming out of your shell, gaining confidence, understanding who you are and who you want to be - and conversely who you don't want to become. It's about trust, family secrets, young love, and as the title suggests, the end of the world. After a little bit of a slow start, it became a real page turner, and I really enjoyed it.
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What would you do if you knew the end of the world was coming?
Party, holiday or be with family, for Olivia she wants to gain confidence and win the girl of her dreams.
When she discovers a cousin she never knew, she begins to follow instructions from her to develop her confidence.  Then her cousin turns up in Spain where she is spending time with her mum and stepdad.  
The story builds up with some twists and turns, who should Olivia believe and trust?
A great book for teens, a coming of age story with a twist and the imminent end of the world.
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This is probably an odd thing to pick up on within a book but I really enjoyed the tone of the book. The author captures what it feels like to be on the cusp of adulthood. When you think you’re an adult and can do everything for yourself. Then when something really big happens you want an adult to come and solve all the problems.
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When you’re told within the first few pages of the book that a “catastrophic breakdown of everything” is on the way in several months’ time, you don’t necessarily expect an uplifting read. Although I’d had a rough idea what the book was about (there’s a clue in the title), I did rather wonder at this point if I wanted to continue. Oh well, at least it’s not because of a virus. (The day when the world finds out about its impending doom happened to be my daughter’s birthday... so that’s nice.)

In fact, the “end times” are more than a backdrop than a focus - we’re told relatively little in the way of specifics - as main character Olivia (Libby) experiences one very unexpected summer. Sixteen-year-old Libby isn’t exactly living her best life - she’s very lacking in confidence and the girl she’s been in love with for four years, Zoe Adebayo, is oblivious - but everything’s about to change when she finds a cousin she never knew she had. The ebullient Natasha is something of a force of nature, and before long Libby’s life is moving in completely unexpected directions and she’s doing things she never dreamed she was capable of. But how much does she know about Natasha, really?

I’ve always enjoyed Emily Barr’s books, and this was no exception. Throughout the book there’s a lot Libby doesn’t know - what’s really going on with her mother? what, if anything, is Natasha up to? - and it was intriguing to see how things unfolded. Meanwhile, there’s the ever-present fear, dealt with in different ways by different characters, that the human race may not live to see the future.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review - I enjoyed it a lot.
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Olivia and the rest of the world are living on borrowed time - they have been given a date where there will not be enough air for humanity to breathe. 

Quiet, shy, and retiring Olivia seeks to change her life for her remaining time on earth. She starts by auditioning for Romeo and Juliet, as her love interest - Zoe is also auditioning too.  She also moves to Spain with her mother and her mothers partner.
Then out of the blue her uncle dies in an accident, leaving her a generous amount of money. Olivia begins to communicate with his daughter Natasha until she shows up in Spain, which changes Olivias outlook further.

However, is Natasha all she seems to be?

The story is intriguing, it definitely gives you food for thought and its incredibly gripping.
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