This is the Way the World Ends

This is the Way the World Ends
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Release Date
May 09, 2023
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Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Hazel Wood are cordially invited to spend one fateful night surviving an elite private school’s epic masquerade ball in Jen Wilde’s debut thriller, This Is the Way the World Ends.

As an autistic scholarship student at the prestigious Webber Academy in New York City, Waverly is used to masking to fit in―in more ways than one. While her classmates are the children of the one percent, Waverly is getting by on tutoring gigs and the generosity of the school’s charming and enigmatic dean. So when her tutoring student and resident “it girl” asks Waverly to attend the school’s annual fundraising Masquerade disguised as her, Waverly jumps at the chance―especially once she finds out that Ash, the dean’s daughter and her secret ex-girlfriend, will be there.

The Masquerade is everything Waverly dreamed of, complete with extravagant gowns, wealthy parents writing checks, and flowing champagne. Most importantly, there’s Ash. All Waverly wants to do is shed her mask and be with her, but the evening takes a sinister turn when Waverly stumbles into a secret meeting between the dean and the school’s top donors―and witnesses a brutal murder. This gala is harboring far more malevolent plots than just opening parents’ pocketbooks. Before she can escape or contact the authorities, a mysterious global blackout puts the entire party on lockdown. Waverly’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare, and she, Ash, and her friends must navigate through a dizzying maze of freight elevators, secret passageways, and back rooms if they’re going to survive the night.

And even if they manage to escape the Masquerade, with technology wiped out all over the planet, what kind of world will they find waiting for them beyond the doors?

Editor review

1 review
wild ride
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THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS is a YA thriller/speculative fiction about money and power. Waverly is a scholarship student at a prestigious New York high school that has changed her life. She worries about her mother and her illness while appreciating how far her family has come since she found herself in the orbit of the dean, who helped to get a diagnosis for her mother, get her parents jobs, and is helping her with an education that can make her dreams of becoming a doctor come true.

One of the people for whom she tutors, Caroline, proposes that Waverly take her place at the upcoming charity masquerade where tickets began in the tens of thousands of dollars. Waverly hesitates until she learns that the ex she fell in love with before she was ghosted is going to be there - maybe she can get some answers and feel like Cinderella for a night. However, as she attends, it becomes clear that something sinister is going on, and she was not invited. Soon, she and her friends are running for their lives against the most powerful and wealthy people in the city - with a backdrop of the apocalypse.

What I loved: The story had diversity in the main characters, in terms of LGBT, neurodivergence, and disability (primarily the main character and her close friend). I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Waverly in the relationship that she had, which helped to build her as a character and provide a more stable storyline, though there were only a couple of these sections.

The themes around healthcare disparity for access and cost, the power that comes with money, and the nefarious plots of the wealthy/secret organizations were intriguing. While the book is more focused on the plot, these themes were worth further consideration and could spark some interesting discussions in a book group.

What left me wanting more: This was a bit of a harder story to get into as the action picks up rather suddenly part of the way through. The reader does not feel fully immersed in the story and the mystery, as it becomes bigger rather quickly. I found it hard to stay in the action and suspense as well as in Waverly's mind as things did not have quite the build or the immersive feeling that I was looking for. Along those lines, other characters were difficult to get invested in as we are not fully introduced to them with facts being told and not shown in places. There also felt like some plotholes and big questions left at the end with how the evil plots were planned to be put into action or how foiling them would work out for the people there. A lot of questions felt like they were remaining by the end of the book, so it did not leave the reader with the emphasis or clarity it really needed to feel satisfied.

Final verdict: THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS is a wild ride about money, power, and the potential end of times.
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