The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Source: eARC from Raincoast Books
“Not the Twix!” said Banger. “It’s a candy bar and a cookie”
I feel like I’m definitely the black sheep in the flock because I just couldn’t enjoy this book. There were good moments, but overall I had so many issues with it.
If you don’t know this book is about a girl and her little brother who are attacked during a snow storm and saved by a mysterious, well muscled, man from the Lowlands. Which is basically Hell. He is sent to the Overlands (Our world) to collect sinning souls and take them back to his world. However, our main character Zoe and mystery man feel an instant connection and he asks her whether he should take the soul or not. She chooses mercy for the sinner but in choosing to let him go damns mystery man to suffer the Trembling. A kind of sickness for not obeying his masters. But he’s already broken a bunch of rules by allowing himself to be seen by an innocent so what one more, right?
Firstly I would like to cover what I did enjoy about The Edge of Everything. Mechanically, I found the writing was really solid. Honestly, I feel that if this author were to write a different story, I would be interested in reading it. I really enjoyed the characters because they had realistic flaws and were pleasantly quirky. Zoe was great, her blurting was funny and often had me in giggles. The banter between all the characters was really good in fact. I also adored Ripper and Banger, yes their self-inflicted damages made me cringe, but their personalities were fantastic. One of my favorite scenes is the junk food scene with Banger and Zoe.
Sadly, that wraps up what I enjoyed. (Some spoilers ahead)
The story started off faced paced and felt creepy, almost thriller-like but after the initial attack, the mood changed. The rest of the story was pretty slow-paced, and mostly dialogue between characters. I didn’t feel engaged anymore. It wasn’t predictable, I’ll give it that. It was so weird and unrealistic that I didn’t have any idea what would happen next but not in a good way. I like the kind of unpredictable that well crafted and this was more like the recollections of an acid trip. Think Alice in Wonderland, in fact, if you like that sort of nonsensical whimsy you might love this book. I am a true believer that there aren’t books that are actually bad, just books paired with the wrong people.
Like I said before I liked Zoe but boy did I hate her to start. She sent her eight-year-old brother, who she refers to as a Spaz, outside to play because hess annoying her. Even though its -10 and she knows there’s a snow storm coming. And, she waits till the storm is full on before going to get him? I was ready to quit right there, expecting her to be thi sbratty for the rest of the book. She was actually a pretty kick ass character throughout, and very protective of her brother, so the beginning felt really out of character.
One of the things that bothered me most were the love interests. Putting aside all the bright shiny feelings Zoe has for X, I felt like their relationship was really unhealthy. Insta love that causes the participants to instantly be willing to throw away their lives and safety of others is not romantic in my opinion. Also, X is aware that his presence is a danger to Zoe but he stays anyway and later he endangers her again without warning her of the consequences. This was just plain selfish. Now, let’s compare this to Dallas, the one-sided love interest, who is constantly and annoying painted as a Neanderthal. He was constantly respectful of Zoe’s need for space, always willing to listen, helpful, kind and even thoughtful. I’m not saying Zoe should have picked Dallas (I would have) because you can’t help loving who you love. What I am saying is, she had an example of healthy love in her life so she should have known the difference. Zoe and X’s relationship felt a lot like the typical bad boy who needs saving trope. Which is so over done, and unrealistic. Bad boys have a lot of baggage and aren’t emotionally available to have a healthy relationship. It’s not a trope that should be romanticized. Again, just my opinion.
This story was unrealistic in so many ways. I wanted to scream on multiple occasions. Just so you know this is the most instant of insta love you have ever read. These two can even mind read one another from the moment they meet. I can believe an instant attraction but I hate insta love. Also who has instant love with a man who appears out of nowhere, with magic powers and a taste for soul stealing? Where is her sense of caution?! I mean I get the bad boy attraction theory but this is pushing the limits. This isn’t a leather jacket and a smoking habit. This guy is from Hell. Zoe should have been getting some major red flags once she recovered from the sight of his perfect abs. Yeah okay, later we discover that he isnt a psycho but she doesn’t know that then! And while we’re on the topic of X’s demeanor – throughout the story Zoe and X are trying to find a way for X to stay in the Overlands so they can be together? This guy has lived in Hell for 20ish years, I’m sorry but I can’t see him getting a job at Starbucks and enrolling in evening classes. What I mean is this guy is going to need some serious therapy after what he’s been through and to assimilate into a new world. I really don’t think he would be in any place to have a relationship. And does anyone else think its weird that he loves the first and only girl he’s ever interacted with? I mean so would I in his position but does that make it real love? Maybe I’m being too critical but even though this story is weird and quirky I need it to be realistic. I need my characters to think realistically. And don’t get me started on the mother! What mom would have let a strange man, found hiding in the garage, suffering from some strange sickness into the house. And leave him alone with her kids. No, any mom I know would have called the cops, or at least a cab and kicked him out. I just couldn’t buy it. Look I know its fantasy, in other fantasy books there are teen assassins saving the world, but its set in a different world than ours. If you’re going to have a fantasy in our world I’m going to hold it to the standard of our cultural reality.
And my biggest gripe with this book. What. Was. The. Point. Seriously? I really felt like it had no direction what so ever. The world wasn’t changed or saved. I don’t feel like the characters grew or learned anything. Zoe changes her mind at the last minute and lets her father go? Wow, didn’t see that coming a mile away. Rendering everything that led up to it completely pointless. I was really hoping her father would go willingly to see her happy with X, that would have been a decent resolution – but no. And oh, there’s a big battle at the end? Nope, the lords don’t even look for a body, they just assume he’s dead and give up and leave. Talk about anti-climactic. And wouldn’t they know that they didn’t kill him? I mean they know what X is doing from another realm but they can’t sense whether a life ended?
Nothing was resolved, nothing changed. I’m torn between hoping there’s a sequel so things make sense and hoping that this is the end of the ridiculousness. If there is a sequel that wraps things up, I feel like a lot of this book could have been cut out to make way for that content.