Book Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Caitlin Danborn, Editor, Social Media, Blog

“Miracles…do not belong to religions. Miracles belong to the desperate, which is why every religion, every philosophy, and most importantly, every fairy tale always has a moment of salvation, a eureka, and enlightenment. We are all chasing and chasing tails, running and running in circles, until a wolf or the witch or the stepmother jumps out and trips us, and we fall flat, splat, and we lie bare and bleeding and breathless and finally, finally look and see whatever it is- salvation or eureka or enlightenment or a hunter or a prince or a glass slipper- in front of us. And that’s what miracles are. Not solutions, but catalysts. Not answers, but chances.”


The small town of Waldo, Iowa is known for having the deepest quarry in Iowa, a nationally ranked wrestling team, and Janie Vivian. Micah Carter and Janie Vivian have been friends their entire life. But then Janie disappears, and Micah can’t remember what happened…


First off, the characters of Janie and Micah weren’t exactly original. Janie had a very John Green vibe; she was almost identical to Alaska Young or Margo Roth Spiegelman- beautiful, mysterious, popular girl. And Micah was almost identical to Pudge or Q- somewhat unpopular boy who is friends with (but also secretly in love with) said popular girl. Because of this, I found the plot to be fairly predictable. Not to brag or anything, but I pretty much had the ending figured out by about half way through the book.


But. (Here comes the big but ;-)). But. There were (luckily) several things that saved this story. Amy Zhang’s writing was absolutely gorgeous. Lyrical, poetical, and downright beautiful, it was up there with the likes of Jandy Nelson and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Zhang’s writing alone was reason enough to read the book. Also, we get to read Janie’s journals throughout the story and I loved their unique appeal- Janie rewrites fairy tales to fit into her own life. Though Janie’s real-life fairy tales could’ve been a little more developed, they also had spectacular illustrations around the border, which I believe Zhang herself illustrated.


With John Green-esque characters comes a John Green-esque vibe, so that was another good point of the story: it’s the type of story that makes you want to get up and live your life. However cliche, I’m still a sucker for these types of books.


Fortunately, Zhang was able to take not-so-original characters and give them a life of their own. Beautifully written with powerful messages and a plethora of quotable phrases, This is Where the World Ends is a book perfect for all John Green fans.