Reviews

Where the World Ends, by Geraldine McCaughrean

pennyriley's review against another edition

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3.0

This Carnegie prize winner (for children and young adults) is loosely based on a true event that occurred in 1727, when three men and 8 boys were left on Warrior Stac in the St. Kilda Archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, for the annual bird hunt that provided food for the islanders of Hirta for the next winter. They are marooned there for nine months when the boat that should have picked them up does not return. There is both good and bad about this book. The writing is beautiful, and the detail that McCaughrean includes is breathtaking. How she found out about the technicalities of climbing the stac, for example, I have no idea. But to my mind the liberties she takes (even though so little is known) are at best unnecessary and at worst completely change what could have been. The book seems far too long. It is 336 pages and could probably have been done in a couple of hundred without losing anything - and gaining a lot of readers. I was a middle school LA teacher for many year and cannot see many of my students getting through this. Maybe more adults will read it, but I'm not sure.

razreads's review

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2.0

Complete review available: Where the World Ends

This had so much potential from the concept, and yet the execution was not up to McCaughrean's usual finesse. The characters lacked any real depth and the plot had no momentum. After some consideration, I think this is due to how it was all presented. The third person narrative made it a little detached and there was no emotive element to the story - it was as if McCaughrean was trying to retell events without any dramatic flair, and thus dragged the suspense, joys and shocks from the lot. In total, this made it dry and what felt like a never-ending list of bird catching, boy drama, bird catching, boy drama... As soon as the afterword appeared, however, McCaughrean's beautiful writing was back and I was absorbed. Such a shame that the actual novel wasn't so finely executed...

deansreads's review against another edition

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4.0

Parts of this reminded me of Lord of the Flies; parts, Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And it blew my mind a little that this beautifully written survival tale is based on something that actually happened.

brrbrr's review against another edition

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5.0

WOW
the words to describe the journey this book took me on, are not coming to me so all I'll say is if you like life threatening adventure 》 read this book. I Loved It!

mollytucker's review

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challenging dark emotional inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

abbynlewis's review against another edition

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dark emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective sad slow-paced

3.0

 
Where the World Ends is set on the island of St. Kilda, off the coast of Scotland. A group of boys and three adult men are delivered to Warrior stac, which is less of an island and more of a rock (featured on the book cover) jutting out of the ocean. On the stac, the boys and men are meant to harvest the local birds for profit. This includes killing gannet, puffin, and garefowl for meat and for the oil in the birds’ stomachs, which they will sell when they are picked up and returned to the main island. This is how the people of the St. Kilda archipelagos make a living. However, this time, no one comes to pick them up.

There’s a lot to love in this book, but there are also several drawbacks. The writing itself is lovely, and the book design is gorgeous in terms of the cover art and the inner binding (pictured below). The genre of historical young adult fiction is a hefty challenge in and of itself to write. Historical fiction alone is a difficult subject to craft, but to then add the feat of making the historical facts and setting palatable and even entertaining for a younger audience is not a simple task. McCaughrean does a valiant job of incorporating terms of the time, such as “bothy,” “cleit,” and “kirk”–which are helpfully included in a glossary at the end of the book–and a specific dialect that isn’t too hard to understand. For a book based in the year 1727, the tone was deceptively modern. 

Continue reading: https://freeairforfish.com/2021/06/24/book-review-where-the-world-ends-by-geraldine-mccaughrean/

smithallison07's review

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adventurous dark emotional informative mysterious reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

ellieanor's review

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3.0

2018 CARNEGIE LONGLIST BOOK 13/20

Geraldine McCaughrean has always been a hit and miss author for me. I adored her A Little Lower Than The Angels, and I liked Peter Pan in Scarlet, but I couldn't finish The Middle of Nowhere. This one kind of fell more into the later category, unfortunately, though I was able to finish this. And it did get better as it went on. It just felt a bit dry .

I didn't dislike the writing style. It does have a nice style to it, and I think it can work, but here it kind of made the first half of the story very boring. It meandered down places and took too long over things and I napped. It was the kind of writing that looks nice and sounds nice on the surface but doesn't really do anything to draw you into the story. I liked it. I did. But it didn't do anything for me. And the pacing was really off. The beginning introduces this mystery that I was desperate to know the awswer to - why the boys were left on the island - but then I don't think that there was really enough going on in the rest of the book to interest me, and this just frustrated me. (I spoiled myself okay? It annoyed me that much.) And the story does pick up, but not until like 2/3 of the way through the book, which is a bit too late. The rest of it is just what is going on on this sea stac and quite frankly it was boring. Though I will say I think that the author did an amazing job creating that chilling sense of isolation. It is something that I find very haunting and scary, and the book had a very haunting atmosphere. That was definitely my favourite thing about this book. It was the main thing that stayed with me. And this book was a lot moer adult than I was expecting it to be - not that I disliked that. It just looks like a children's book, and it is DEFINITELY not. Please expect that before going into it.

So yeah, I did like this, but I was a little bored. I think the idea and the fact that it is based on truth is really interesting. The story itself is definitely very different from anything that I have read before. Geraldine McCaughrean's books do tend to be very original. I think that for the atmosphere alone that this book created it, I would put it on the shortlist. But I think the slow moving plot and the frustration about learning the truth is just not for me, due to the fact that I am very impatient. But if you like slower books that haunt you, you will definitely enjoy this.

critter's review against another edition

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4.0

The fowlers have been hunting for days on the stacs. When it is time for them to return home, no one comes to retrieve them. They wait for days, believing that surely somebody will come. But when nobody comes, they start to wonder what has happened back home. They can only believe that the end of the world has come and spend their days struggling to survive on the rock they’re stranded on.

The writing is beautiful. The land and harshness of the stacs and the sea is beautifully described. There is a great chilliness to the atmosphere as the characters realize how alone and vulnerable they are. The setting was very well detailed to show the isolation of the characters from their home and families. However, the writing also felt dry and as if it meandered a bit. There were times that it felt as if nothing was going on in the story.

While it was a slow-moving book, it was beautifully written. The brutality of the sea and the stacs left the atmosphere dark and chilly. This book definitely felt like it was for a more mature audience than I was expecting going into it. This was a great story loosely based on true events that shows how people can survive and be changed through the harshness and bitterness of having to survive on a mass of rock in the sea.

I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway.

missusb21's review

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5.0

Surprising and moving.