My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is not often that one can read Science Fiction/Dystopian Fiction as poetry – this book goes there. Peter Heller has us landing directly in the middle of the main character’s head, almost like a VR set that brings you into a world entirely. I was amazed by how quickly I understood Hig, mainly because I was going through the story using his eyes as the lenses. The choice of narrative style made it feel like there was no other way for the story to be told: I get it, I enjoy orderly paragraphs, and quotation marks to signify dialogue vs thoughts, but in this book, using those sorts of organizing apparatuses would have deducted from the overall atmosphere. Hig was very sick for a while; he lived through it and bears the scars; he has had no one to talk to in years except for his dog and his more-than-controversial-yet-lovable neighbor (I’ll go there later, if you don’t mind spoilers). It makes sense that his thoughts are a jumbled mess.
Here’s the thing that bugs me about most End of the World books these days: it feels like the author is just trying to paint their world onto a blank canvas so they can presumptuously place their ready-to-save-the-world-yet-unaware-of-it young adult in the middle and tell us all about how they pivoted the unknown revolution around. I’m tired of that tale: heard it all before a million times. How refreshing it was to me, then, to feel Hig’s angst, to be walked through the haze of his days split between survival and memories of the lost past, to picture myself utterly isolated and devoid of company I would normally choose. And the tangible, almost bellowed bond between him and Jasper, adds the extra touch of bitter-sweetness to the otherwise indistinguishable days. Do yourself a favor, and read this story. It is touching, and it demands to be carried with you for a few days after it ends, just like our fondest memories.