Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis

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I received this book for free from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee EllisThe End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis
Published by Dial on May 1st 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Middle-Grade, Paranormal
Source: Penguin
Buy on Amazon

For fans of Sara Zarr and Stephen Chbosky, an achingly raw and surprisingly funny novel about coping with loss

Emmy’s best friend Kim had promised to visit from the afterlife after she died. But so far Kim hasn’t shown up even once. Emmy blames herself for not believing hard enough. Finally, as the one-year anniversary of Kim's death approaches, Emmy is visited by a ghost—but it’s not Kim. It’s Emmy’s awful dead science teacher.

Emmy can’t help but think that she's failed at being a true friend. But as more ghosts appear, she starts to realize that she's not alone in her pain. Kim would have wanted her to move forward—and to do that, Emmy needs to start letting go.

I went into The End or Something Like That expecting to read a YA contemporary novel.  Having this mindset left me very annoyed at the repetitive writing and juvenile attitudes presented.  Once I started easing into the story I switched my perception of the novel and starting looking at is as a middle grade one which helped with my enjoyment of it greatly.  Don’t get me wrong, lots still annoyed me about it but I was much more forgiving of its quirkiness than I was initially.

In this story we are Emmy, a grade 9 student who lost her very best friend the year before.  She grew up with her best friend Kim from as early as one can because their mothers were also best friends.  From birth Kim had lots of problems with her heart that she had powered through but eventually she succumbed to her heart disease and Emmy is having a really tough time coming to grips with that.  What doesn’t help her get through her loss is the fact that prior to Kim’s death the two girls had explored, in depth, how to contact loved ones once they had passed on.  They read books, listened to audiobooks and even went so far as to going to seminars held by the great Dr. Farnsworth.  This doctor promises to help people who attend his seminar become much more in tune with themselves and help them to learn how to “thin the veil” between this life and the afterlife.

It was pretty sad to see Emmy latching onto this very far fetched possibility of having contact with Kim after she had passed on.  She packs up all the necessary objects such as Kim’s favourite snack foods and her favourite movie to name a few and goes to the locations they had agreed on at the time they had also agreed on and she waits.  I mean sometimes this girl waits for an entire day only to be let down when she doesn’t get contacted by Kim.  I felt really bad for Emmy because this possibility that the girls had opened themselves up to really prevented her from coming to terms with Kim’s death and being able to move on.  I think that her grief was captured really well and that Ellis did a great job of portraying a character at that age dealing with such a tragedy.  I mean Emmy came across as weird & super awkward and you could really feel how closed off she was from what was going on around her.  She was sort of living in her own world of grief and trying to find her way back to who she had once been.

Helping her find her way there is some of the most unexpected of people as Emmy starts seeing every ghost she could imagine except for Kim’s.  I liked how these entities helped her along her way and how you had to read into their actions to really know what their motives were.  There is a theme touched upon about how these ghosts are constantly roaming the Earth to try to find closure or accomplish something to finally fully move on and it felt like the full impact of that wasn’t dealt with as I would have liked.  It’s brought up but I just felt like it never really led anywhere except for the one ghost, it didn’t really impact Emmy and Kim’s story at all.  I would have liked to have seen that theme explored a little bit more and seen what some of the other ghosts were hanging around to finish up.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review the writing was really hard for me to get into and it even still bothered me on many occasions at the end of the novel.  It’s very repetitive, probably one of the most repetitive books I have ever read but I did ease into it as I read along.  Another thing I struggled with was the constant time jumping.  In the ARC there are two different fonts to the writing and as the chapters change so does the time frame.  My issue with this was that the flashback chapters seemed to have no rhyme or reason at parts, it would take me a bit to figure out what point in time I was reading about because sometimes it would randomly go back a farther or shorter distance than the previous flashback chapter.  See how long that last sentence was? That’s another point I want to mention about this book; at some points the sentences were an entire paragraph and I had to re-read it to try take it all in.

Despite my few issues with the writing style I did end up really enjoying The End or Something Like That.  I recommend to anyone going into this novel to not expect a YA story as I originally had and I think you will save yourself the adjustment period that I had to struggle through.  This is a touching story that will make you feel sad but ultimately give you hope for anyone who has passed away in your life.


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10 Responses to “Review: The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis”

  1. Kayla

    Great review and I appreciate your honesty! It does look like a YA novel with that cover and blurb. Speaking of the cover, is it 3D? Because it sure looks like it! Anyway, I don’t think that I’ll be picking this up anytime soon since you fond the writing style to be juvenile and hard to get into. Thanks for the review, Jenni! 🙂

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    This has a really cute cover and I would have thought it was a YA contemporary too. I understand why you were disappointed with it being more MG. I already really feel bad for Emmy. She seems really heart-broken over the loss of her best friends. I’m glad that she had these ghosts to help her guide through.

    I’m not sure if the book would work for me though. I tend to get bored with repetitive books and juvenile writing is not something I find I can connect with. Anyways, I’m glad you enjoyed it partly, Jenni.

    Lovely review.

  3. ShootingStarsMag

    Sounds like an interesting look at grief, especially for someone so young. I’m sorry the writing and the age level threw you off for a bit though. that’s never fun!

  4. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    The story behind this one sounds so cool and intriguing, but I’d probably also be worried about the fact that middle grade books always seem a little less serious and emotionally investing as a young adult book. If I read this one, I’m definitely going to tell myself to get into a more serious mindset beforehand 🙂 Fantastic review, Jenni! <33

  5. Melliane

    Ah yes I can understand the problem about the repetition, sometimes it’s really difficult. I didn’t expect to have a middle grade book either I confess but the cover is so cute!

  6. Hikari

    I actually loved the writing style. I thought it was refreshing and really hilarious at some times. I also loved that even though the story is set in Nevada, there were so SO many Utah details in it. I initially picked this up to support Ellis as one of our local authors, and found that she incorporated a lot of Utah into it, so that was fun. The only thing I hated, was the other ghosts. You never really understand why she can see them, and the addition of them didn’t add anything to the story for me. It just made me confused when their visitations didn’t lead to much more story wise. I’m glad that you felt the same way and it wasn’t just me. ha.