Sunday, January 31, 2016

Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain

23848031Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain

2.75 stars

Nicole’s father has lost his marbles. Nicole and her sister Isabel find themselves forced to move to a cabin in the remote woods that once belonged to her grandfather. Her father is a firm believer in the end of the world and this move is preparation for it, but their mother isn’t happy and leaves. Nicole and Isabel suddenly find themselves alone in the woods with no parental supervision in a quickly deteriorating house. On the other sides of the woods lies a religious/spiritual commune where Wolf has lived all his life. Wolf wants to be one with nature and now that his drug addict mother is back he prefers the solitude of the woods. Laurel is Wolf’s best friend and she claims that she doesn’t like Wolf, but she can’t help being jealous of the outsider, Nicole, who has become close to Wolf. This is the premise of this book and don’t go into this book thinking for some harrowing tale about family, redemption, the end of the world, and saving yourself because that’s not what this book is about. In fact, this book isn’t about much more than 224 pages of exposition and buildup that doesn’t really buildup to anything climatic. There’s a point when shit hits the fan, but none of it was necessary or fleshing out for the potential of this story. This story doesn’t have any concrete message that I can get behind because it doesn’t feel concrete. There doesn’t seem to be any end goal in this novel, which sometimes works, but in this novel’s case it doesn’t help.

“I am often hovering in between, unclear about my destination.”
(Which pertains to the story surrounding this book; there is no clear destination of what it wants to say.)

This novel is set in the year prior to 9/11, which is really fascinating. I feel like it’s a good place to start concerning novels where families don’t feel safe and the prospect of protecting their family from destruction, whether it’s natural or man-made, was very rampant at this time. It makes since that Nicole and Isabel’s father feels this way, but it wasn’t expanded on for this being his reasoning. Nicole just followed him around and nodded her head while Isabel called him crazy, but not once did they ask why their father was moving them into the middle of the woods. If they would’ve asked this question I wouldn’t have to have read endless pages of nothing for this “BIG REVEAL” as to why their father has uprooted their family.

"The older I get, the more I feel as if I am some lone explorer in a strange new world, where I understand few of the rules and am not sure I have the right equipment to survive.”

There are some discrepancies with the writing and while I was reading from an ARC copy, I don’t see how an author can forget which POV they are writing from at the present time. If you are writing from a character’s POV, KNOW your character because otherwise you’ve convinced me and along with other readers that your POVs all sound the same even to yourself. While there are some great lines in here, I don’t read literature just to quote it. I want those great lines to have a profound meaning and connection to the story, not for the sake of being a great line. It takes away from the overall picture and doesn’t feel like there is much of a story if you have to throw in lines for the sake of it.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2.75

As I’ve briefly mentioned there are multiple POVs-Nicole, Isabel, Wolf, and Laurel. Out of these four Nicole and Wolf’s are the most prominent in the story.

Nicole is the most interesting character of the story because she is relatable. Her story isn’t farfetched for the sake of entertainment or drama. She’s a realistic character who takes control of the situation. As the big sister she realizes that she has to protect Isabel, hunt for food, and keep the shitty cabin afloat while they are abandoned by their parents. She’s level-headed, a quick thinker, rational, and a realist. While these are not traits that usually make an outstanding character, they are a trait that are human and that’s what makes Nicole stand out in her POV. She’s HUMAN and that’s a good thing when it comes to contemporary novels because that’s what sales the character to me.

Isabel is Nicole’s baby sister and she definitely puts baby in that title. Isabel reminds me a lot of my sister in the ways that she wants to be older than she actually is and is forced to face consequences in rocky situations where she needs Nicole to save or comfort her in. Isabel’s voice is judgmental and bratty- she sounds like an airhead to me. There’s no nicer way of putting it, but as the story progressed Isabel’s character became more fleshed out, but not for the right reasons. My biggest problem with Isabel is that she is used a plot device for, what I’m considering to be, rape. It’s important to know that Isabel is only fourteen-years-old and in my opinion, nowhere near old enough to make the decision of having sex. During this scene she specifically says, “I know there’s something I should say about condoms or slowing down or birth control or I don’t want to do this, but no words come out, because part of me does want to do this.” I’m sure it can be argued that Isabel’s mind is developed enough to know the choice she has made, but this scene just proves right there to me that she doesn’t understand what sex, especially unprotected underage sex, entails in its secret guidelines. I feel like the author uses Isabel in a way to say, “LOOK SOMETHING CONTROVERSIAL HAPPENED! NOW LET THE DRAMA BETWEEN WOLF AND NICOLE ENSUE!” Which is totally horrible that this girl barely old enough to understand the meaning of consensual sex is used a plot device for romantic relationship drama.

Laurel is Wolf’s friend and considered sister from the commune. She’s the epitome of a pointless POV. Her character serves NO purpose for this story. She doesn’t add depth or enhance the reading experience. In fact, you could probably skip reading her POV and not miss anything pertaining to the story. She is also unlikable. I didn’t connect to her outside or inside of her head and I felt nothing when it came to her.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Nicole- 3.5 Isabel- 2.5 Laurel- 1

Wolf has this weird Thoreau inspired POV and it is heavily influenced with nature ideas and spiritual musings. My problem with Wolf is that is far too philosophical for a teenage boy. His thought process is far too profound and above what any sixteen/seventeen year old thinks about when musing upon life. It’s pretty unbelievable. I’m not sure if I like Wolf as a character or not because he’s hard to connect to and he doesn’t feel completely real. Here’s an example:
“I don’t begin to understand why life, so excruciatingly fragile, so breathtaking in its delicate beauty, can be destroyed with such ease.”
Which is a beautiful quote, but I can’t see any of the boys in my high school thinking about life like this.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2.5

Nicole and Isabel’s mom and dad are present in this story without being present. In YAs when the parent is absent it’s far from being on the forefront of the character’s minds, but in this novel it is like a constant heavy ball weighing on the minds of both girls.
“He has a way of being silent that is louder than any voice.”
When it comes to girls’ father, he is extremely unlikable and he has no redeeming qualities which I find extremely unrealistic. He’s a jerk and he made a lot of bad choices, but that doesn’t make him completely horrible. Likewise, their mom isn’t a great person, she left her children with no intention of coming back with a man who is off kilter in sanity, and she isn’t painted out for being wrong or horrible in this aspect. I think that’s a very unfair portrayal on both accounts of the parents.
“I don’t know how we are supposed to recover from crazy.”

Character Scale: 3

The romance between Wolf and Nicole is obviously a big part of this novel because 1) it is contemporary and 2) if there is a boy and a girl then that must mean love story. I’m not a big fan of their relationship, but I’m not against. I have a lukewarm feeling to it and their sparks aren’t enough to light a small kindling for me.
“I want to know her in ways I cannot fathom, and it’s an urge so powerful, I feel the energy of all humanity past and present is pushing me toward it.”
If Jamie Fraser said this it would be more eloquent and I would eat that shit up, but Wolf tries to hard even when musing about a muse. It’s gag inducing.

I’m not a huge fan of this novel, but I do think it’s a decent novel that if you are interested in already then I urge you to read it. But if you’re like me with a billion books on your TBR pass this one up. I’ll be looking into Kain’s debut novel because it sounds right up my alley, but this book isn’t bad and I imagine a lot of younger readers would absolutely devour this in one sitting.

Plotastic Scale: 2.75

Also side note because this irked me: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING ATTRACTED TO OLDER MEN! I mean have you seen Sam Heughan and Norman Reedus?

You're welcome!

Cover Thoughts: I like the cover, but like the rest of my thoughts on this book, I only feel lukewarm about it.

I won a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press (subdivision Griffin) in an exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Instructions for the End of the World? Do you want to? What's your favorite contemporary (let me know because I don't read enough and want to!)? Let me know down below in the comments!


  1. I haven't read this one and I DID want to because of the title. XD Like I really like end-of-the-world stuff, even if it's not really apocalypse. XD I JUST LIKE IT. But this sounds really meh and not at all what I thought it'd be like? So I'm not rushing out for it, that's for sure. *heavy sigh* I've barely read any contemporaries (fantasy is my LIFE) but I do so adore All the Bright Places. <3
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. I know right? The title for this book is absolutely awesome! It sounds like the perfect occult survival guide story, but sadly it wasn't. Yea, it's not a novel that I recommend as a MUST read, but it's worth checking out since you are interested in it. I haven't read very many contemporaries because they are not my highest rated novels, I am too more of a fantasy reader. I need to read that one. It's been sitting on my Kindle forever!

  2. This is the second not-so-great review I've read of this. I think I'll be staying away :(

    1. I'm sorry you aren't interested in reading this one, but I think it's a novel to only be recommended to people already interested in it.