Friday, July 17, 2015

All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder

All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder
Release Date - July 28, 2015
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 272 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
What do you do with your last day on earth?

Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn't leave, the world will end. But Emerson's world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city's quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people's wishes -- and gives them his wallet full of money.

Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day -- maybe even their own. 
The notion of knowing the world is going to end has always fascinated me as a premise for a book. The idea of how you would spend your last hours is ripe with tantalizing possibilities for authors, and it seems a genre that is vastly under represented. We  have plenty of dystopian novels about the aftermath of a cataclysmic event, but not many that examine the moments before. I have yet to be fully impressed by a novel with this setting, but Lisa Schroder's offering is the closest I've come to enjoying a novel in this particular genre.

The novel attempts to showcase both the kindness and harm that humanity would be capable of during such an event. While the focus is clearly on the idea of paying it forward and showing kindness to others, there is a light brush stroke of the darker impulses that people could act upon during a traumatic time. Perhaps I am jaded, but I would expect crime, panic, and mob mentality to be a little more prevalent than presented within these pages. The notion of committing suicide rather than simply running out the clock was something that was handled with care and finesse. The novel, for me, just didn't have the panicked, desperate feel that I would expect as those last few hours ticked away. In particular the desperation of those separated from their loved ones, and what they might be willing to do in order to get to them. Ultimately, I think it may have been the particular character focus that hindered this particular aspect of the story.

The writing, while well paced and sharp, was done in a style that prevented character connection. It's a third person style that never really quite let me into the heads of the characters. A novel like this should be all guts, emotion, and fears and I just felt that I never really connected with the characters enough to care about their fate. I was fascinated by their journey but in an arms length way. Their regrets, hopes and fears were there, but they just didn't leap off the page to become something that I personally could feel too. There is however plenty of character development to be found, and they are well rounded characters, which is all due to the writing. It's just a lack of any connection that left me, personally, feeling distant.

Perhaps the biggest stand out element of the novel is the idea of being thankful. Thankful for the time you do have, and the people in your life. Enjoying the little things, unplugging from the technology that is such a force in our lives and having a real face to face interaction. The little things we take for granted would be the first things you regret not appreciating while you had the chance and that is beautifully woven through every single part of this story.

The ending fell a little flat for me, simply due to the lack of answers. I didn't feel the ending was wrapped up as fully or nicely as it could have, or should have, been. This is a story that focuses on the characters and their lives rather than the asteroid, but the particular omissions at the end, for such a looming presence in the story, felt glaring.

A gentle, thought provoking look at the potential end of the world, and the ways in which interactions can spiral and twist our stories in unexpected ways. While I did not quite connect to the story the way I wanted to, it's still a hopeful novel with a beautiful reminder wrapped in its pages. 

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