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The End of Everything: A Novel [Hardcover]

Megan Abbott
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 7 2011
Thirteen-year old Lizzie Hood and her next door neighbor Evie Verver are inseparable. They are best friends who swap bathing suits and field-hockey sticks, and share everything that's happened to them. Together they live in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister Dusty, who provides a window on the exotic, intoxicating possibilities of their own teenage horizons. To Lizzie, the Verver household, presided over by Evie's big-hearted father, is the world's most perfect place.

And then, one afternoon, Evie disappears. The only clue: a maroon sedan Lizzie spotted driving past the two girls earlier in the day. As a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the Midwestern suburban community, everyone looks to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth, prowling nights through backyards, peering through windows, pushing herself to the dark center of Evie's world. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power at the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secrets and lies that make her wonder if she knew her best friend at all.

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"Stirring...[a] storytelling feat."—New York Times

"A haunting story...evoke[s] the furtive blossoming of adolescent sexuality...that lies beneath the ice cream shops and sprinklered lawns of '80s suburbia."—Entertainment Weekly

"Fans of Tana French and Kate Atkinson will welcome Abbott's haunting psychological thriller ... Abbott expertly captures the nuances of lost innocence and childhood friendships, without ever losing an undercurrent of menace."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A mesmerizing psychological thriller and a freshly imagined coming-of-age story, will draw comparisons to The Lovely Bones."—Los Angeles Times

"THE END OF EVERYTHING will haunt you as only a modern-day Lolita can."—Huffington Post

"The writing is anything but typical, as Abbott's inventive use of language to build imagery reads more like poetry than prose."—Boston Globe

"A sensitive, unconventional tale about the infinitely complex mystery of sexual awakening that lingers in the mind long after the book is finished."—The Guardian (UK)

"THE END OF EVERYTHING is Abbott's most refined and rapturous offering yet."—Los Angeles Review of Books

"An accomplished psychological thriller... a highly skilful novel, taut, addictive, full of stuff to keep you hungrily reading."—Sunday Times of London

About the Author

Megan Abbott is the Edgar-award winning author of four crime novels. She has taught literature, writing, and film at New York University, the New School and the State University of New York at Oswego. She received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University in 2000. She lives in New York City.

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was not impressed by this novel at all. When you read the description you expect it to be a "whodunnit" kind of story - who kidnapped her, are they still around, why did they do it - and obviously something must have been a shocker for the girl to suddenly believe that she never really knew her friend. Maybe even if it wasn't that intense (it is supposed to be about a 13 year old afterall) you at least think there would be a "Harriet the Spy" vibe, sneaking through backyards - going through peoples desks.
No. None of that happened.
It is much more of a family drama. Rival sisters (although you don't know they're rivals until the last 10 pages or so) vying for their fathers attention and love. Then there's the best friend, who spends 99% of her time mooning over her lost friends father. I'm going to be honest (reminder that I began reading this book thinking it was supposed to be a mystery/ thriller) I thought the twist in the novel was going to be that the father was a pedophile for how much they were going on about how amazing he was. He's not (that's a good thing, but for some reason it just made the long descriptions of his wonderful smile, and how when he touched your arm you felt special, even more awkward.)
I will admit there were some good plot points that SHOULD have and COULD have been used (me and my shadow picture point at the end of the book) but the problem is, those points DO NOT come up until the last chapter or so. They leave you confused with... wait, that was supposed to mean something?
There was a lot of the 13 year old thinking "... wait there's something at the edge of my memory..." and you expect those stories to add up to something - most of them don't.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  113 reviews
77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Written, But Not The Book For Me Aug. 13 2011
By Melissa - Published on
Lizzie was the last person to see her best friend, Evie Verver. For thirteen years the two had been inseparable, but now Evie was gone. The only clue was the maroon car Lizzie had seen right before she left Evie to go shopping with her mom. When the police were not able to locate her, Lizzie began her own search to find out where Evie may have been taken. However, as Lizzie dug deeper, she began to realize the friend she thought she knew was someone quite different. In a dark and rather disturbing novel, The End of Everything is brilliantly written, but difficult to read.

Had I realized what this book was going to be about and how it was written, I would not have picked it up. It's a good book, but right now I just want to read something light and fluffy to wipe away the images that were left behind by this story. It's sad, disturbing, and not at all what I was expecting. Instead of a novel that revolves around solving a crime, it's told by thirteen year old Lizzie and is very much a loss of innocence book. I was not prepared to dive into a world of romanticized pedophilia or teenage sexuality. It's not that these issues were glorified, but they're there none the less and not something I was expecting or prepared to read.

This is an exceptionally well written book. Abbott has a great ability to create vivid images and evoke strong emotions. She does a nice job of setting the atmosphere and capturing the mind of a child who knows much, but really doesn't know anything. However, it's her writing talents that are also a detriment. It's hard to read a story where the thirteen year old narrator was seeing the kidnapper as possessing a great love for the child he's taken. Nor was it comfortable to read many of Lizzie's recollections with Evie, as many of them had sexual overtones. There was a strong realistic element to this story, but it wasn't something I wanted to read.

Even though I would have liked for Abbott to have left some innocence in the story, I am glad that she allowed the reader to be disgusted by the characters and their warped relationships. It would have been easy to tell the reader what they should think, but instead she lets them take the events and feel the sickness of these characters for themselves. I don't need a happily ever after ending, but there is a part of me that wishes there was a glimmer of hope in this story.

I feel much the same way about The End Of Everything as I do Lord Of The Flies. There is a terrible sadness for children when they lose their innocence; when the world and life they know is suddenly shattered and they realize things will never return to where they were before. While I think this is a brilliantly written book, I wish I hadn't read it. This is not a book for everyone.

Review title provided courtesy of Little, Brown, & Company.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Strange in the Verver Household Nov. 25 2011
By KarenBookLover - Published on
I started off really enjoying the book;I'm very fond of adult books with teenage narrators, and I like Abbott's writing. However, about halfway through,the book began to feel a bit creepy, especially in the depiction of the Verver family dynamics--and of Mr. Verver in particular.I know that Lizzie was hungry for a strong, male role model,and in her hero-worship of Mr. Verver, she was looking for ways to bask in the glow of his full attention. When Evie first disappeared, it was natural for Lizzie to cooperate with the police and to be at the Verver's house to give any help that she could.As the situation continued,it looked to me as if Mr. Verver was leaning on Lizzie..or perhaps courting her.I didn't really like her late night lawn chair conversations with him, and I didn't like Lizzie spending so much time with him, down in the basement, setting up for Dusty's substitute "prom." I would think that Lizzie's mother might have found this friendship to be somewhat troubling or inappropriate, but she just compliments her daughter on being so sensitive to their neighbors, All of it's a bit ironic.
The early conversations between Dusty and her father (especially the ones about boys and dating)also seemed inappropriate--more like a flirtatious exchange between peers(boy and girl)than an affectionately teasing father-daughter conversation. When you add in the fact that Mrs. Verver(who had supposedly once been sexy and attractive)was now a shadowy character, somewhat irrelevant to her husband and daughters,I think that it paints a picture of an off-kilter family. I don't know if there was any kind of sexual contact between Dusty and her father (although I think that the book's conclusion might be suggesting that), but it seemed to me that Dusty had replaced her mother in her father's affections and that Evie was just an also-ran- loved, but not treasured in the same way that Dusty was. Dusty's strange behavior after Evie's disappearance (going off to her grandmother for weeks at a time, avoiding her father)suggests that she was uncomfortable being around her parents. Was Evie's decision to explore a male-female relationship the result of jealousy over her sister and father's closeness? Was it a way of her dealing with her own "crush" on her father? (He was forbidden to her so she needed a substitute,)I'm not sure what to make of it all.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars creepy and a little too real Aug. 1 2011
By Ne_Philim - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Replete with Daddy issues and twisted sibling rivalry, this novel has an insidiously disturbing effect that creeps up on you long after you think a particular plot point has been resolved. It's not so much the horrible events of this novel that will haunt you, but rather the horrible character defects and petty jealousies that allow them to happen. I recommend this novel if you like really dark psychological suspense.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innocence Lost June 29 2011
By McGuffy Ann Morris - Published on
Lizzie and Evie have been friends their entire lives. They share everything, from clothes to sports to thoughts and secrets. They have carved out places in sports, equaling the boys on that playing field.

Now, at 13, everything is changing. They watch Evie's 16 year old sister as she blossoms into a beautiful and feminine being, and her effect on the males in the neighborhood. The boys, other kids, adults, families, or perhaps it is their perception, their awareness that is changing.

Lizzie realizes that Evie is changing, as she herself is, too. Their discussions and secrets have taken on new tones, new topics. When Evie disappears suddenly, Lizzie still feels the connection and a responsibility to find her friend. Her bond with Evie's family gives her strength, but is also a source of mixed comfort and pain.

Lizzie has many revelations and grows up in unexpected ways in Evie's absence. She realizes things about Evie, herself, and the ways of the world. These things drive her to find Evie, but they also put an end to many things that she felt, believed, and thought she knew.

Megan Abbott has written a book that explores the frightening dark side of adolescence, regarding sexuality and what is the end of innocence. The truth is that when we lose our innocence, we lose our childhood.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbott steps up her game. June 27 2011
By Lily Courthope - Published on
After writing solidly stylish noir for several books, Abbott at last turns her attention to the thriller genre. Boy, does she ever. Eschewing the gore and clubs to beat the reader over the head that prevail in so many modern thrillers, the author takes readers on an inventive and psychological exploration of the beautiful & complex family who live next door to pubescent Lizzie. Lizzie is Evie's best friend, "body-close" as Abbott describes them, so when Evie disappears, Lizzie believes she knows Evie --and Evie's family-- so well that she can solve the mystery of her friend's disappearance. But as Lizzie pieces together memories and clues she begins to wonder if maybe Evie didn't just disappear. Maybe she went away. And Lizzie, all unknowing, maybe Lizzie, too, knows more about it than she realized.

Written with elegance, finesse, and restraint, Abbott has penned a poignant, painfully honest coming-of-age tale against the shadowy and suspenseful backdrop of family dynamics.
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