Review: This Is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Waverly sticks out at her prestigious Manhattan school, Webber Academy. She’s from Queens, low-income, autistic and queer, so most of the time she feels out of place at school.

To make extra money, Waverly tutors the rich kids at her school, including the beautiful and popular Caroline. One day when Waverly is at Caroline’s house, Caroline gives Waverly an expensive gown and accessories. The reason: Caroline doesn’t feel like going to the Masquerade Ball, the dean’s annual fundraising event.

With Waverly’s face covered, Caroline says that Waverly can pass for her. Waverly’s ecstatic because she could never afford to attend the event on her own. In a beautiful new dress, Waverly is ready to attend her first society event as a Cinderella. Too bad a night to remember turns into a night she wishes she could forget.

At the Masquerade Ball, Waverly witnesses a murder committed by the Dean’s security guard. Quickly, the night begins to unravel, which includes a secret society, a heinous plot and a natural disaster. With the help of her friends, Waverly is determined to protect everyone at the event. But what’s waiting for them on the outside doesn’t look good either.

We so badly wanted to like This Is the Way the World Ends and we did…at first. Sadly, we found the book to be confusing, convoluted and at times, dull. That’s not what you want to say about a thriller.

Let us explain. It feels like there are three separate genres in this book. The first portion read like a contemporary, the second a thriller and then finally, at the end, it felt dystopian.

We liked the first portion when we got to know Waverly and her home life. Wilde did a great job with the representation aspects of the book and talked about issues Waverly faced like her social-economic status, her mom’s health problems, her difficulties being social and how she recovered after her ex-girlfriend ghosted her.

But then we got to the thriller portion of the evening and the book went downhill. Waverly stumbles upon a secret society and the plot idea had promise, it just wasn’t done well. The reader has no idea how Dean Webber is able to cultivate his dream future. It just made no sense to us.

Finally, Waverly and her friends realize that the technology is out across the entire world. The secret society didn’t cause it, but knew it was coming. 1. How did they know? 2. What caused it? These questions are never answered.

For a thriller, This Is the Way the World Ends wasn’t all that thrilling. We didn’t feel nervous at all while reading it because the stakes didn’t seem that high. When we read a thriller, we want our heart rate to increase and to feel nervous, which didn’t happen.

As for the characters, we were intrigued by Waverly at first. But once she attended the Masquerade Ball, basically all character development ended. We get that this point of the story was supposed to be all about the plot, but still it felt weird for Wilde to tell us so much about Waverly at the begging, just for her to stop 1/3 of the way though.

The same goes for the other characters, who didn’t feel well developed, especially Dean Webber, who didn’t have a great reason for being a villain, which he briefly touched upon in the last chapter.

Now the ending left things pretty open ended and as far as we can tell there’s no planned sequel. So what happens to Waverly and the rest of the world now? We seriously have no idea.

Overall, there are much better ya thrillers out there. Do yourself a favor and pass on this one. Instead, if you’re looking for a ya thriller set at an elite school, we recommend picking up They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso.

Rating: ⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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