Everyone Says That at the End of the World, by Owen Egerton

gerhard's review

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This book starts off quite brilliantly, introducing the tragic figure of Milton, whose father commits suicide as a form of quantum dare. This launches Milton on a lifelong quest to make sense of life, the universe and string theory ... Unfortunately, the earth is about to be wiped out by a gamma ray burst from a nearby exploding star.

Rather than play this as a melodramatic scenario, Egerton opts for high satire mode, replete with a hermit crab called Click as a central character. Think Hari Kunzru (Gods Without Men) combined with Rick Moody (The Four Fingers of Death).

Unfortunately, towards the end, Egerton commits the fatal error of abandoning the satire for some heavy handed humanism, replete with wandering messiahs and omniscient blue-skinned aliens.

The planet's apocalyptic end mirrors the novel's implosion into outright, messy craziness.

turae's review

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Very well written. Flies along. Asks some big questions about religion and ends in a somewhat satisfying way. Some questions remain, but it doesn't feel like the author just stopped because he didn't know how to end it.

romination's review

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Everyone Says That is a book that's fits and starts brilliant, never able to carry over the amazing ideas presented in the way the author makes the end of the world happen with the character moments, especially regarding the way they all came together at the end. It's also perhaps a bit unclear about some of its concepts - a character can move through time and dimensions freely, but what power does that actually grant him, why couldn't he teach others, what was the point of it except to make him more of a prophet figure?

At times it gave my brain something to chew on, at others it was a shrug, and it's hard to say how I really felt coming out of it. It leaves things very open, even as the end is extremely melancholy, and seems just a little too proud of its new-life-comes-while-whole-world-ends thing. It perhaps ends with too much hope. Maybe if the world had just ended, but he managed to find a way to leave that open still.

But then there are other moments where it mentions that though the world is ending, people are still showing up for work, and I wonder, would I be one of them? Would I see satellites falling from the sky and animals attacking people and hear reports of other end of the world scenarios happening around the world and go "ah gotta be there at 7 like usual"? I really hope not. I'm sure those people who do would also respond the same way to that thought.

I really feel like the author might eventually turn out something that's truly great, but at the moment, he's stuck at being ok. Nothing wrong with ok - most of us are just OK and writing is hard. Things greatly pick up once the world starts ending, and once you reach the melancholy chapters before the end, there's a strong sense of sorrowful finality as things are described in the way the earth dies. But that sort of thing always gets to me.