So This is How it Ends

By Tui T. Sutherland

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Eos, 2006

Genre: Fantasy, time travel fantasy, adventure, mythic fiction, science fiction

Series: Avatars; 1

ISBN: 9780060750299

Intended audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 480

Settings: Many various settings including: Los Angeles, NYC, Chile, Mexico

Time periods: 2003 – 2012, 2087

Plot summary: Five teenagers in various parts of the world find themselves alone in a post-apocalyptic world.  Most of them must travel great distances to meet at a gathering place in New York City, while avoiding mutant animals, crystal robot hunters, and a few deranged humans.  Once they reach their destination, they learn more details about what has become of the world they once knew.  They also learn that they will be participating in a battle – whether they want to or not.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Quick pace; some parts move more quickly than others. 

Characterization: The story is told in third person and switches the character viewpoint fairly regularly between the four main characters – Kali, Tigre, Gus, and Venus/ Diana.  The fifth teen has very minor role until the end of the story.

Frame: While one might think that the end of the world would be a dark frame for a story, this story seemed more light than dark.  Most of the action takes place during the day, the monsters are made from crystal, and one can sense from the beginning that the main characters are going to make it through somehow.

Story line: An adventure filled story which examines the concepts of fate vs. free will and blends mythological figures with a bleak futuristic setting.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

End of the world — Fiction.

Time travel — Fiction.

Science fiction.

Similar authors:

Evermore: The Immortals by Alyson Noel

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) by Rick Riordan

Personal notes: I can’t say I really cared for this book and I don’t think I’ll be seeking out the next book in the series.  It kind of reminded me of a dumbed down version of Stephen King’s The Stand in the beginning, but there wasn’t much depth to the characters (although a couple reviews I read talked about well developed characters – I disagree).  I also felt like the story was asking too much of me as a reader in terms of suspending my disbelief – like the pop star who doesn’t know what a catwalk is and doesn’t drive, but who can somehow assemble a working car from many run down ones just from having watched her father work on cars many years ago…  I don’t know.  Perhaps part of why I had problems with this book has to do with how it was (mis)catalogued.  It’s listed as a science fiction book in my library and in WorldCat, but it is definitely a fantasy book.  There are some science fiction elements, but the science is never very well explained.  Here I thought I was branching out in my reading by trying a science fiction book for a change and it turns out to be fantasy after all – but I like the fantasy books I read to feel more real than this one did.  The reading level also seems more age appropriate for tweens rather than teens.

I did look into what it takes to work for Baker & Taylor – the vendor my public library uses for cataloging.  They happen to have a position open for an Information Coordinator in Bridgewater, NJ when I checked their website. One of the duties for this position includes validating subject classifications.  This position only requires a high school degree and two years of non specific “specialized training”.  Does working a cash register count as specialized training, I wonder?  What kind of training do the coordinators get?  Are they ever taught the difference between fantasy books and science fiction?  Not all time travel books are SF.  Oh well.  Fantasy books seem to be the black sheep of the library world.  I suppose I should just be happy to find fantasy books in the library, even if some of them are listed as science fiction.

Other (themes, diversity): Diversity – Chilean, Egyptian, Indian American, teenage pop star

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One thought on “So This is How it Ends

  1. Sarah says:

    After I wrote this, I contacted PCPL about the subject headings and they have since added fantasy and fantastic fiction as subject headings. Yeah!

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