Reading time 4 mins
Review: INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD by Jamie KainInstructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on December 8th 2015
Pages: 224
Genres: Adventure Stories, Survival, Young Adult
eARC provided by St. Martin's Press

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From the author of The Good Sister comes a gripping novel about two sisters who learn that there are things in life—love, loss, and self-discovery—that you simply can't prepare for.
He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck.
When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?
Instructions for the End of the World is a gripping, young adult novel that explores family, friendship, and love in the midst of the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Oh, I am conflicted on what I feel about this book. Instructions for the End of the World had great writing and some really interesting characters. BUT, it also had a weird setting and an unsettling ending.

Nicole and her sister Isabel have just arrived at their new home. Their military father has just left his career and taken his wife and daughters to live in a home falling apart and miles from civilization. Their nearest neighbor is a hippie retreat. Dad wants his family to learn to live off the land. As a “prepper”, their dad has taught Nicole everything she will need to survive a tragedy. When the tragedy that occurs is that their Mother leaves and then Dad leaves them alone to go find her, Nicole finds she is not prepared at all. Is this the life of self-sufficiency all Nicole really wants to have?

So in this story we get 2 sisters who are very different who need each other. We get a few adults who clearly have issues who then make very bad decisions for children. There is a really cool boy who lives next door. This story also tackles peer pressure and first love.

I liked the writing style in this story. It was easy to follow along. The story switched POVs a lot and it worked in the case of Isabel, Nicole, and Wolf. All of their perspectives brought something that added to this story.

At times we were in a POV and I could clearly see who and why because it was all well written. Nicole was nicely fleshed out character. She starts off trying to do the right things and ends up pretty much the same, but for better reasons. Is is easy to see the struggle Nicole has in following her Father’s orders when he is not even there. Isabel starts off the typical teenage girl, and she hates her sister. She goes through some typical teenage stuff in this story, and a big event, but she basically stays typical. Wolf is a boy we meet who lives at the spiritual retreat next door. He is a survivalist himself, although him and Nicole go about things a bit differently. I loved his connection to Nicole. It was a bit of love at first sight, but for these two it just worked.

I didn’t understand how Laurel fit into the story until almost the end. She only gets a few chapters, but it didn’t make any sense to me until much later. Her story helped me to understand Wolf’s mother a bit, but I don’t think the story needed Laurel, at all.

In trying to make sense with all the POVs I get the feeling that survival is the whole point. All of these characters are damaged goods, but they find a way to fit together and survive. The characters are easy to imagine. The descriptive details were easy to see. The author is great at describing the scenes in a way that makes it all seem too real.

Okay, but we MUST talk about the elephant in the room, there is no world ending catastrophe in this story. What does happen is that Nicole and Isabel get left alone in a run down shack in the woods while their parents run away. How could these “parents” leave those girls alone? I get that Dad was distraught, I get that Mom couldn’t handle living in a run down house in the middle of nowhere but, but just how do people just leave their children home alone? Nicole is pretty self sufficient at 17, but Isabel is a typical 14 year old girl. Isabel is into her friends, and her hair and regular teen girl stuff. I kinda don’t believe this part of the story, but I guess there is no test for parenthood. So this could potentially happen. Right?

All in all this was an okay story. It was easy to read and I pretty much finished it in one day. The one lingering thing that still bothers me is that the book just ended. There wasn’t as much happening as I would have liked and the few things that got resolved were not enough for me to say I enjoyed this story. I liked the writing and the characters, but the story itself needed more.

My Rating


About Jamie Kain

Jamie Kain grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and has since lived in too many places to count. She now calls Sacramento, California home, where she lives with her husband and three children.

The Good Sister is her debut young adult novel, and it was what you might call a labor of love, which is just a fancy way of saying it took a really long time to write and became something she was pretty obsessed with for a while. Stay tuned for details about her next young adult novel coming in 2015, Instructions for the End of the World.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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