There are so many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.
Despite Ellis’s anxiety — about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones — the two girls become fast friends. As Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, she learns there are secrets Hannah isn’t telling her. But with time ticking down, the search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?
Katie Henry, the author of Heretics Anonymous, delivers an engrossing and thoughtful tale about how people survive — with some faith in family, friends, and maybe a few prepper forums.
Title : Let’s Call It A Doomsday
Author : Katie Henry
Format : ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : August 6, 2019
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated
Hollis’ unrated review
I toyed with the idea of not writing a review for this book. Which might give you some initial insight as to why it’s unrated. Hopefully the review itself will explain why but also might explain why you might still want to read it yourself.
First of all, our main character has pretty severe anxiety. It manifests in constant doubt, internal criticism, and almost-constant fatalism; and we get to read that internal narrative as she hears it. Her anxiety also manifests itself in a worry about the world ending. Not necessarily fire and brimstone, though it’s not ruled out, but.. nuclear war. Natural disaster. The list goes on. She’s a prepper, though she doesn’t love the word, and she’s actually rather open about it; even if she’s constantly bracing for judgment or disbelief from those she tells.
“Survivalists have skill sets. Hunting and fishing and living off the land and I can’t do any of that. I’m a prepper. I have supplies, not skills.”
All this to say that this book is basically an anxious person’s worst nightmare. Add in a somewhat fraught family dynamic, with Ellis’ parents and sister struggling to deal with her anxieties, constantly having to accommodate her, and not always able to be calm or kind about it.. yeah, this was hard to read for me.
Em was always the Golden Girl, from the moment she was born. What choice did I have but to be the Perpetual Disappointment? Every family needs one. So I’ve fallen on my sword. It’s actually very noble of me.
There’s also a whole (unexpected) plot, or rather emphasis, on the LDS church and community. Ellis is LDS, as is her family, and there’s a lot of narrative surrounding the lifestyle, belief, values, etc. I thought it an interesting choice for someone who believes the world is going to end but there were moments when some in-dialogue discussions were fascinating.
However the main plot is Ellis’ new friendship with Hannah, a girl she meets outside her therapist’s office, and hoo boy. If the anxiety didn’t get me going, this friendship did. Hannah’s whole existence is this book is stringing Ellis along with vagueries. She’s seen the end of the world, she says, and Ellis is there with her. But she needs Ellis’ help to decode the visions. So they have to find this man, this homeless person, who calls himself Prophet Dan. Except he’s not who Hannah makes him out to be. But overwhelmingly I just hated Hannah’s role in this story. I hated the vagueness, I hated the frustrations she inspired, the agonies she would encourage in Ellis and then step back from.. I feel for Hannah, I do, I can be sympathetic — mostly in hindsight, but it was present in certain moments, too — but oh god I hate this kind of character. I found it really difficult to see how strong they were in the end, too, this friendship enduring everything it did. I would’ve preferred it to fracture or.. maybe just quietly be let go, considering everything that came to pass. I 100% do not condone the connection.
Trying to Be Cute, Accidentally Implying Cannibalism : The Ellis Kimball Story.
I did, though, enjoy Tal. He was a sorta expected (but also not) love interest and he was everything Hannah wasn’t. He had a connection, an understanding, with Ellis and also offered her something new. I liked that quite a lot. Plus, his group of friends, and their Quiz Bowl Guess-A-Book-In-Five-Words was hilarious. Easily the highlight for me.
“I really want to make a sex joke right now. But you’re ruined it. You’ve ruined it with the apocalypse.”
There was a lot of therapy positive, heavy but groundbreaking, discussion — in fact all interactions with Ellis’ therapist were another highlight for me — and I found the writing to be pretty smart. I loved the word games, the guessing games, and some bits of dialogue were outrageously funny. But this was not the book for me. If this wasn’t an ARC, I probably would’ve DNF’d. And thus here we are with this unrated review. This book was a lot of things and I think many people will enjoy the journey and feel for the main character. I just felt too much of the wrong (though accurate to Ellis’ anxieties) things.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **