Reviews for Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday, by Natalie C. Anderson

harasnicole's review

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5.0

So many fucking tears were shed, holy shit. I think I'm going to take my time writing a longer review because I want it to be "perfect", but just know that I very much highly enjoyed this and it was written with the utmost care by the author. Even if I hadn't read the author's note at the end, I'd still say so.

tabby2920's review

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4.0

Although hard for me to get into at the very beginning, as soon as the story progressed, I had a hard time putting it down. The realistic storytelling will draw in any engrossed reader. I was captivated by the good writing, a unique aspect in YA literature. It was so good that there were times I forgot I was reading a YA book. Some people may have a problem with a fact that the author has never visited the country and that may impede the impact this book gives. However, I think readers need to take into consideration at her experience in refugee work and the writing talent she used to make this one into one amazing YA book. It may not be #ownvoices, but it is a book I feel teens should read to encourage them to learn more about the outside world.

junebug_kw's review

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4.0

For a book about the terrible state of Somalia, and the use of children as soldiers and slaves, this was a very good read. Despite it's length, it was a quick read that kept me engaged the whole time. Any book that has me researching the real-life state of the subject deserves lots of credit for shining a light on often-ignored topics.

tinkeringlibrarian's review

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5.0

I think this has high appeal and really shows the complexity of a child soldier’s reality, and how easily disposable the locals are to U.S. intelligence. The Happy ending is hopeful and maybe what teens need so they can handle something this challenging.

alyssamakesart's review

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adventurous dark reflective tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

raethereviewer's review

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5.0

The Good

You can tell this book is well researched. I had my doubts going into it considering the fact that it is written by a white women. In this day and age, we know the importance of #ownvoices in literature and I didn’t know if she knew that. That’s the very reason I never read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chained series.

Natalie D. Anderson acknowledges this in her author’s note and I respect her for that. She’s actually worked very closely with refugees. This is a story that needs to be told and this may be the best way to get the message across. People who actually come from this kind of background rarely have a platform to share their story.

The character and plot development were both really well done. I enjoyed the way the story went back and forth between the past and present. Those kinds of stories can be tricky to do right. The pace of the transitions was great. The characters were quite nuanced, there was no character who was ever really “good” or “bad” (besides one.) We really get an understanding of the driving motives of each character.

I loved the writing style. I felt like I was really in Abdi’s head.

The Not so Good

I did piece together some of the events that were going to happen. I started to get on edge, anticipating but hoping it wouldn’t go in that direction. It felt like the author anticipated this and she threw in a couple things I wasn’t expecting.

All in All

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday was absolutely heartbreaking, yet chillingly real. This is the harsh reality for many Somali children, though not all of them are spies for America. It’s also a very entertaining, well-paced novel.

The research and attention to detail was super well done. I’m glad this novel crossed my path when it did. I’d been eyeing it at the bookstore, so getting this copy made me so happy.

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday is perfect for lovers of The Kite Runner. Man, that’s a book I need to reread.

gracet's review

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4.0

High 3 stars, probably 3.8 or 3.9, rounding up because despite some sour notes, this was a gripping read about a completely unfamiliar environment.

You can read the blurb to get an idea of the plot--young jihadists, moral conflicts, troubled teens, etc. I'll just mention there is a bit of language to watch out for, along with some crudity and innuendoes in the jihadist training camp.

There's a lot this book does well, though, at least in my opinion as someone totally new to the material. The setting came alive, and the characters and their struggles were realistic, and I loved how the title played in to it all on both a literal and figurative level. I wasn't a fan of the cover at first, but after reading, it fits well and the hot, bright feel of the color scheme fits the setting beautifully. I read the book in one sitting because I had a free afternoon, and it would have been hard to put down even if I needed to.

alainaev's review

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adventurous challenging emotional hopeful inspiring sad tense slow-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

bookiecharm's review

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4.0

I tell myself I've chosen to live but the water knows the truth. Waves brush my arms- soft as shroud linen. The water knows. I have to die.

4.5 stars*

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday had me hooked from the first page. Well from the cover art actually because this has to have one of the best covers I've seen for 2019 releases!

Told in dual timelines of 'then' and 'now', Abdi is a child soldier and spy for the US government infiltrating the jihadi terrorist organization Al Shabaab. Then – Compelled by threat of murder of his family, Abdi is given the impossible decision for his and his family's freedom. Now - Abdi grapples with the person he's become after so many atrocities while under the care of a UN social worker.

I am so impressed with the writer's ability to write from this particular perspective with complete focus on the character's plight and perspective. This is extremely important considering the turmoil and complexity existing within war torn Somalia. Please listen/read to the author's note! This story is not without bias or possible missteps when discussing the state of Somalia, Islam-driven Al Shabaab, or the routine terrorist activity inflicted by the US government. But it does a dam good job of discussing all of these things in a haunting story that is highly accessible for YA audiences.

Abdi’s perspective and the emotional voice performance in the audiobook really drove this story home. I loved especially the time spent in the girl's school (during the 'now') and Abdi's adjustment to civilian life. The bonds these children share are built on a series of unforgivable acts and their experiences as refugees but also on a love of swimming.

However, some of the alternating chapters felt long winded and lacked fluidity. This is surprising since there are so many lovely analogies of swimming and freedom. I'm a Pisces and I vibe hard with that imagery. This novel features a fictional but harsh reality that I'm glad this story brings awareness to.

CW - rape, murder, torture

enne's review

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3.0

3.5 stars

I read this book in one day, was very stressed for the entirety of said day, and then promptly proceeded to put off reviewing it until now because I honestly don't know what to say about it. I mean, there is so much I could say about it, but I'm honestly not sure what my feelings on it are.

I thought the main character was well developed. He had clear goals, motivation, and a more than complicated history that I thought were explored really well in this book. I also appreciated the dual timeline to clue us in on some of said history because I would have been very confused otherwise. Also, I love dual timeline books, so that's a bonus point in my book.

The characters that I found it hard to connect with, though, were the characters in the "present" timeline. I thought we didn't spend nearly enough time with them to get to know them or maybe they weren't as fleshed out as the other characters in this book, which made for an imbalance. A large part of it is that, in the "present" storyline, the main character is in his own head a lot of the time and doing his best to ignore the real world, however, I still thought there was more that the author could have done without altering the course of the story too much, to help us connect with the characters more.

I was also underwhelmed by the plot in the "present" timeline. Again, when contrasted with the plot from the "past" timeline, it doesn't come anywhere near close. I think the author was trying to do a different thing with each of the storylines, but then they were blended together at the end and I don't know... The entire thing just felt a bit messy to me and like it could have used some more editing before it went to print.

That said, there were some things that I did enjoy! I really liked the side characters in the "past" timeline and I thought they were really well fleshed out and complex and we spent a lot of time with them to get to know them, which was nice. I also, like mentioned previously, really liked the main character in this book. And the plot of the "past" storyline had me on the edge of my seat pretty much from beginning to end because it was absolutely thrilling.

I also think this is a book from a perspective and about a situation that is not really discussed in YA and I really appreciated what it brought to the table, in that sense. I do also think it's worth mentioning, however, that this book is not ownvoices.

On the one hand, I thought this book was an engaging thriller, on the other, I thought it was a bit too messy in some places and definitely needed a bit of editing before it went out into the world. I wish we had gotten to know some characters better because I really liked what we got of the ones we did know better.
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