A Reader’s Response to Emily Barr’s “Things to Do Before the End of the World”#TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour


Summary I got from Goodreads:

One minute you’re walking in the park, hiding from a party. Then you discover that the next nine months will probably be your last. Everyone’s last. You realise that you happen to be alive at the time when your species becomes extinct.
You have to decide whether to go with it meekly like you usually do, or to do something brave, to live your last months with all the energy and bravery you can muster, to rage against the dying of the light.

Olivia struggles to live her real life as fully as she wants to. She plans out conversations and events in her head but actually doing them and interacting with other people is hard. When the news breaks that humans have done such damage to the earth that there’s only nine months of safe air left everybody makes bucket lists and starts living their best lives – everyone, that is, but Olivia who is still struggling to figure out who she wants to be.

Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know exsisted. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for their last summer on earth Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having a effect on her. But what if Natasha isn’t everything she first appears to be . . . ? 

Author’s Bio, lifted from her website:

“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, a sci-fi horror novel and four book for Young Adults, published in the UK and around the world. I live in Cornwall with my husband Craig and our children.


My Thoughts on Things to Do Before the End of the World

I thought it would be fun to use a listicle to share my two-cents in this novel:

  • Having a To-Do List or bucket list as chapter titles is smart and very creative particularly since the world is about to end in the novel. It also follows the current trend of presenting information: listicles. More than this however, <Spoiler alert!> I find the chapter titles to be an attempt to regain control of one’s life after dealing with a manipulator.
  • The use of past tense already gives away what happens after the Creep. Unless of course it was Libby who managed to upload herself to the mainframe.
  • <Spoiler alert!> Libby gets her first encounter with a creep: her cousin, Natasha. Natasha perfectly embodies Libby’s description of the creep, the environmental concern that will bring about the annihilation of living creatures. They come into Libby’s life unexpectedly and yet affect her life and her family gradually. They are both dangerous and creepy.
  • <Spoiler alert!> Some red flags in a manipulative relationship have been captured pretty well in the novel including the manipulator being charming, using excessive flattery and sometimes guilt to make the other person do things, and isolating the victim. I am not sure what Emily Barr’s intentions were and I’m not in the position to assume but many victims of manipulation aren’t as lucky as Libby to have a rich father who can immediately go to Paris upon hearing his daughter’s misadventure and save her from her manipulator’s well-orchestrated troubles.
  • <Spoiler alert!> Saying this might seem as victim blaming for others, but factually speaking, Libby has the choice and the faculty of acting on that choice to go against Natasha’s manipulation until that scene in Paris. She has had the support of her family members. She has the resources to leave Natasha when she wants to. Although Natasha’s grand scheme is hidden from her, Libby is aware that the cousin she has just met is trying to pull her leg and even makes fun about her eccentricity with her only friend, Max. For victims of manipulators, awareness is one luxury they don’t have. Extremely and painfully shy and awkward, Zoe allows herself to be pulled and manipulated because confident Natasha is what Libby wants to be, yes, albeit only having some months left on Earth.
  • <Spoiler alert!> Libby’s drafts for Zoe is endearing. In writing those letters, she’s her utmost, honest self. How Libby remembers only Zoe’s phone number and gets the courage to call her in her dire need is a testament to her sincere feelings.

Having my family, a loved-one, a friend as integral units of my identity would be evident to me without letting myself be manipulated by someone I barely knew. Being honest with myself, what I found acceptable or shitty would also be evident to me without the creep. Performing magic tricks, deliberately taking advantage of people and allowing someone else- again, a cousin I only found out about some weeks ago- to make decisions for me might not be the way I’d spend my limited time on Earth. I don’t think it is an act of bravery or rage against the dying of light.


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