Things to Do Before the End of the World by Emily Barr – #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour Book Review

About the book

A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.


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 does she want 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.

About the author

“I started out working as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. I managed, somehow, to get commissioned to go travelling for a year, and came home with the beginnings of a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, a thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and I have since written eleven more novels for adults, one novella, and three book for Young Adults, published in the UK and around the world. I live in Cornwall with my husband Craig and our children.”



What I thought

This book is a bit of an enigma, a little like the character that bursts into Olivia’s world; Natasha. It seems to be about one thing – the end of the world – but ends up being about something different. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it depends what you are expecting. Go into this book with an open mind and you will find a classic YA tale of finding yourself and your place in the world.

The two main characters, Olivia (Libby) and Natasha are well rounded and the fledgling relationship between them is at once transforming and unsettling.
There is a mystery within a mystery here with wondering what Natasha wants to the mention of a name that makes Olivia’s mother uncomfortable and trust definitely plays an important role in the plot.

Each chapter title is a thing to do before the world ends and at the start Natasha challenges Libby to do ten things, however that device became a bit throwaway at the end.

I loved the street magic/physic hustling they did and could picture those scenes vividly. And the middle portion does feel like a more classic road trip adventure.

There is also a f/f love story as a sub plot. The only thing I’d have maybe liked to see was Libby be more active in that relationship – and perhaps in the story overall, although the conclusion she comes to about herself was satisfying and it was nice to see acceptance of self over a complete transformation.

The ending felt a little rushed and the mystery reveal was quite telling – a little like the investigator announcing to the room who’d done it and why.

Overall strong characterisation with a mixed plot; the end of the world aspect was more of a backdrop although I found the prospect of how the world was to end, identified in the first chapter, pretty horrifying, and that gave the entire book a fraught tone.

Thanks to Dave at The Write Reads and the publisher for the e-arc for the purposes of an honest review. The book publishes on 13th May 2021. Do check out what the other bloggers thought too.

Posted on May 9, 2021, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

Leave a Reply to Ellie Rayner Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: