YOU & ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD, by Brianna Bourne, Scholastic Press, July 20, 2021, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
Brianna Bourne follows the last two teens on Earth in her debut young YA novel, You & Me at the End of the World.
Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be the hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too much of a disaster for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation. But while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
Readers of You & Me at the End of the World are as in the dark about what’s going on as the main characters, and that’s why the book works. There’s no telegraphing of what happened or what’s to come. Everyone experiences everything together. This makes for a suspenseful and surprising climax that changes everything.
Because there are only two characters — Hannah and Leo — You & Me at the End of the World is as much a character study as a psychological drama.
Hannah is as tight strung as a person can be. From her schedule to her ballet practice, everything in her world is regimented. She’s stuck in the life that’s expected of her, and lost the little joys that make life worthwhile. Leo is about as opposite as can be. He lives life on the edge. He’s impetuous, and that’s earned him a reputation.
At first glance, neither character is exactly “likeable,” but they are recognizable. Both have been pigeonholed into a type, and it’s only as the story progresses that the layers start to unfold. The duo’s connection is what pushes the story forward.
It should be noted that Leo doesn’t have much of a filter as far as swearing goes, so if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you as a reader, You & Me at the End of the World, probably isn’t for you. That said, his language fits with his character and the situation.
You & Me at the End of the World is a unique YA novel that’s perfect heading into the second half of summer.
© 2021, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.