The End of Everything by Megan Abbott, narrated by Emily Bauer
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio; published in print by Regan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette
Lizze has a wonderful life for a 13 year old girl. Since her parents’ divorce she doesn’t see her father – he moved to California – but living next door to her best friend Evie Verver makes Lizzie feel as if her family is complete. Evie’s feminine yet strong older sister Dusty is more central to Lizzie’s life than is her own brother, and Mr. Verver is a father-figure extraordinaire, plus perhaps a bit of a crush of Lizzie’s. When Evie disappears suddenly after school, though, Lizzie’s entire world turns upside down. As the person who spent the most time with Evie, Lizzie is convinced that she must know something that nobody else knows, something that can save Evie. Without her friend, Lizzie feels empty, and she cannot bear Mr. Verver’s pain, or the speculations of the girls in school as to what has become of Evie. The more she digs into her friend’s disappearance, though, the less convinced Lizze becomes that she really knew Evie at all.
Thoughts on the story:
Missing girl novels are not exactly few and far between, and they have been attempted by some fabulous authors – Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing and Hannah Pittard’s The Fates Will Find Their Way come to mind – but The End of Everything proves to be a very strong entry in the field. Looking at the entire incident from the point of view of a young girl brings an entirely different perspective. So many of these books are told at least partly through an adult’s eyes (or the eyes of multiple adults), but Lizzie brings an innocence and an urgency to the situation. So often the adult characters move very quickly to despair, or a hope that somehow seems bereft, but Lizzie continues to believe not only that Evie can be saved, but that she is the one who must somehow hold the key. Despite the fact that so much of the book is very internal with few actual plot points, Lizzie’s perspective on the situation makes for a compelling read.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Emily Bauer and Kate Simses are absolutely my favorite female narrators of young adult books. Like Simses, Bauer is both compelling and believable as a teen or young adult. While she doesn’t quite sound 13, she definitely has a young enough voice to allow the listener to suspend disbelief and accept her as a young teen without being pulled out of the story by an overly mature voice. She does a wonderful job narrating the oft-disturbing The End of Everything, thoroughly convincing me that the problems I had when listening to one of her prior audiobooks had much more to do with the story and the way the character was presented by the author than the way Bauer voiced her. This is definitely a strong audio.
Abbott has created an extremely strong story of loss and fear, which is only enhanced by Bauer’s compelling narration. This is a great listen, but would likely be just as fabulous in print, pick it up either way.
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