This is the creepiest book I’ve read all year, and that’s saying a lot because I read Emma Donoghue’s Room early in the year. The End of Everything is narrated by Lizzie Hood, a thirteen-year-old girl whose best friend, Evie Verver, disappears near the end of the school year. It’s a story about more than how she disappeared: it’s a story about why she disappeared. Room was easier to read because the five-year-old narrator is so innocent. Lizzie, at age thirteen, is wiser but more confused: more confused about relationships, motivations and sex.
The creepiness started for me in the first thirty pages. I was leery of Mr. Verver from the opening chapters, and at that point I suspected him of abusing his older daughter, Dusty. The revelation that he did abuse Dusty on the last page was not a surprise. My trepidation made the sections where Lizzie described her adoration of Mr. Verver so hard to read.
So why did I push on past the first 30 pages when I was dreading what I would read? The writing is fabulous. Abbott nails Lizzie’s confused, thirteen-year-old voice, or, more aptly put, she nails the voice of adult Lizzie looking back on the summer she was thirteen. Also, the characters are complex and messy. Finally, there are more plot twists than what I’ve given away in this review.
All in all, this a great, disturbing read that leaves the reader with a few answers, unlike the ending of The Virgin Suicides, which is a book I thought about often while reading this book.