Imagine a future where you are always connected and there is no need for TV or printed books or even the internet as we know it–the chip inside you knows everything, keeps track of your finances and even orders taxis for you. It knows when you need to order groceries, it knows when you are unwell. It knows *everything*–except what you’re thinking. This is the world scientist Gayle Conyers lives inhabits in Nesly Clerge’s End of the World: The Beginning with her two daughters and nanny/home help. In this world, those who are chipped are privileged. Those who are not are hunted down by the Order and “reformed” (or made into food a la Soylent Green, depending on who you ask).
Gayle is, for the most part, perfectly happy in this world. She likes her job, she doesn’t really question much the way things are, though she wishes she had more resources for her research into HIVm, a mutation of the HIV virus. After watching a debate between Dr. Armstrong, a renowned, agnostic scientist who claims he’s made a scientific breakthrough in successfully transplanting the brain intact to another body, and Dr. Kingsley who believes that the end of the world is coming and is being brought on by those in power (and those who are chipped) who are unwittingly worshipping at the altar of Lucifer when they think they are the enlightened ones. The next day, Gayle is contacted by Dr. Armstrong, who makes her an offer she cannot refuse. And then she is contacted by a rebel called Michael who wants her to spy on Dr. Armstrong and find out everything she can about his research.
Not a lot happens in the story–there are long discussions about religion and science with the rebels on the side of religion trying to convince Gayle that everything she knows and believes in is wrong or is part of a plan to deceive her and others–and this is what ultimately lead to a 3-star rating from me. I think the story has potential, but I wanted more of Gayle discovering whatever is the truth on her own rather than having two (actually three, counting Kingsley) men constantly telling her what they believe in and assuming she will bend to whatever it is that they’ve deemed the truth.
Since End of the World is billed as a sci-fi thriller, I was expecting more excitement and more things to happen. I also wanted Gayle to be more proactive in the story. And while I like the premise of the story, I felt like the religious aspects of it ended up taking up way too much of the story and bogging it down.
What worked for me was Gayle’s growing distrust of being under constant surveillance through the chip implanted in her and through the nanny who acts as a caregiver to her children. The more she learns (through Armstrong and Michael), the more she does not trust KATE (the system that watches over everyone and everything), but she must keep up a facade. I also liked how Gayle doesn’t feel she can trust any of the men trying to convince her to join their side–no matter which side seems to be more “right”.
End of the World is an interesting novel, but–if you’re looking for an action-packed story, it’s probably not the story for you. If you are interested in religion and discussions of good versus evil, then you’ll probably be pulled into the story. This is the first book in a series, so be forewarned that there is a cliffhanger-style ending.
My rating? 3 stars