The Edge of Everything
By: Jeff Giles
Published February 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Children Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy (Paranormal), Romance, Adventure, Family Dynamics
“Holed up in their missing neighbors’ cabin in a Montana blizzard, seventeen-year-old Zoe and her little brother are rescued from an intruder by X, a bounty hunter sent from the Lowlands to claim the souls of evil men.”
Zoe and her family have had a horrible year. Her father died in an accident while exploring a dangerous cave. His body hasn’t been recovered and Zoe wants the cops to retrieve his remains in order to help her and her family have closure. Zoe’s neighbors, who were like family, were kidnapped by an intruder and never seen again.
Her eight-year-old brother Jonah has ADHD and reminded me of my own eight-year-old son. He’s funny, a little odd, but very smart in his own way. He quickly became my favorite character. Jonah was playing outside while Zoe was inside waiting for their mom to come home when the storm suddenly picked up. For some insane reason she didn’t ask Jonah to come inside, and instead went around the house taping the windows. If the storm was bad enough to feel the need to tape the windows why in the world did she not get Jonah and the dogs inside?
Zoe was written as a strong, independent, resourceful teenage girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but sadly she’s also incredibly selfish and uncaring towards others. I had a really hard time relating to her and found her unlikable. When she finally goes outside to get Jonah she finds he is missing, and follows his tracks into the woods towards Bert and Betty’s house. It’s getting colder and colder, and she’s searching for her brother for what seems like a long time, when she finally finds him laying underneath the dogs (who had saved his life by laying on top of him to keep him warm). She carries Jonah to their neighbors abandoned house for shelter to wait out the storm.
While at the house a truck arrives driven by Stan the Man, who claims to know Bert, Betty, the dogs, and Zoe – but she doesn’t know him. He attempts to drown the dogs, but they are saved by a mysterious stranger who is pale, with long messy hair, wearing a long dark blue coat. This stranger projects a movie of Stan’s sinful actions onto his back, and when Stan looks away the stranger moves the projection onto the house, and the snow.
Zoe realizes that she can talk to the stranger in his mind, and he in hers. They both feel an insta-bond. With her mind she tells him to have mercy and let Stan go free. The stranger tells Stan to flee, and Stan runs away into the woods. The stranger carries Zoe and Jonah home, then leaves.
Zoe decided to take a picture of the stranger projecting Stan’s sins on his skin and later when she’s at her house uploads the pic to Instagram? WHAT THE HELL?! She’s had an incredibly stressful evening where her brother was missing in a blizzard, they are attacked by Stan who attempts to kill their dogs, then a strange man did some crazy shit and she decides to go on Instagram! It’s like she has no emotion!
In the morning Zoe wakes to hear her mother downstairs talking to three cops, Chief Baldino (bad cop), Maerz (dopy cop), and Sergeant Vilkomerson (good cop). The cops attempt to question her because they had seen the picture she put on Instagram. Zoe’s mom shuts the conversation down pretty quickly and the cops leave.
Zoe, Jonah, and their mom hear loud noises coming from the shed and upon investigation find the stranger who’s in really bad shape, burning up with a fever. “The fever that racked his body was called the Trembling. It was his punishment for letting Stan go.”…..The Trembling wouldn’t leave until X resumed his search for Stan, somehow being near Zoe made the Trembling and pain decrease.
Zoe convinces her mom to let him stay with them and again I am confused because her mom lets this strange, ragged-looking man stay with them! I am a mom with two kids and there is no way on earth that I would allow some strange man to stay in my house! Call the cops, “Hey the guy in the pic he’s here man come get him.” Anyhow I could rant about that topic so let’s move on.
The stranger, who they decide to call X, claims he is from the Lowlands (Hell), and is a bounty hunter sent to take Stan’s soul as punishment for his sinful actions. The bounty hunters and other prisoners are ruled by the lords who are ferocious creatures. X tells them all bounty hunters are also prisoners who had their soul taken because they did something bad, but X claims he is innocent and hasn’t even been told the reason why he’s in the Lowlands. (and for some reason they believe him! Seriously!)
There’s some major insta-love happening in this story, which I’m not a fan of, especially in YA novels. I don’t think teens should read stories like this where characters claim they love each other after knowing each other for less than a day – and then risk their life trying to save the other. It just felt ludicrous to me and inauthentic.
I also had a problem with how Stan’s character was written. From the way Stan the Man speaks most of the time he seems uneducated but somehow used the words “contentious” and “acrimonious” in a sentence which I found unbelievable.
There wasn’t much world building about the Lowlands, which is a shame because that place sounds fascinating.
One thing I did like was the sense of humour, it reminded me of Rick Riordan’s writing style. I also think that many of the characters were extremely well-developed and interesting.
All in all, The Edge of Everything is a quick read, fast-paced, mysterious adventure. Even though it has some flaws, it is an easy read. As a series debut I feel like it can only get better from here and I will be checking out the next book of the series once it’s published.
Have you read The Edge of Everything? What did you think?