Title: On the Edge of Gone
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)
January 29, 2035. That's the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise's drug-addicted mother is going, they'll never reach the shelter in time. Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that's scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she'll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
On the Edge of Gone is a thoughtful, tense look at the end of the world, at what might happen if something were to collide with Earth. Yes, it's about survival, but value also comes into play. Is everyone's value the same, no matter what, or does it differ? Who is worth saving? How can you calculate something so intangible?
Denise is smart, quiet. Worried. Autistic. She's upset with her mother for dragging her feet, for wasting time they don't have in order to get to a shelter. Her relationship with her mother is complicated, needing her for a number of things that she can't do because of her age but not wanting her around because of her drug problem. It does leave Denise caught between saving her, because she's her mother, and pushing her away to keep her from spiraling.
Here we have the end of the world. Potentially. The comet is coming, and it will hit the Earth's surface, but after that? Who knows? In terms of world-building, I thought it was great, atmospheric and dismal. Even more so because of the setting, because it takes place in Amsterdam. The high density of Europe, the different people and cultures that mix together in European cities. How similar it would be if the book was set in North America. We're all human. We would all react to an event like this in similar ways, yes? Stockpile, build, protect. Survive.
As time goes on for Denise, the feeling of not knowing what to do builds and builds. Which is understandable. She's sixteen, she loves cats. What is she supposed to do in terms of survival? In terms of being on a spaceship? How is she supposed to know what to do? With the amount of time left? How are any of us supposed to know what to do? How are we to prove our worth? What if we believe we are worth more than others? What if the others disagree?
This book is as diverse as it gets, led by a biracial autistic narrator as she searches for a place to survive. The different people she meets, gay and straight and lesbian and bisexual and trans, Jewish and Christian and Muslim, able-bodied and physically or intellectually impaired. It's also, for sci-fi, not that scientific or impossible. This could very well happen. And it seems more about Denise and her connections with others, her internal struggles, her desire to find something to do when told she has to prove herself useful. I found this to be an intriguing look at the human aspect of science fiction and a pending apocalypse, a book I would recommend to those looking for more grounded science fiction and those looking for stories that explore people and their thoughts and motives.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)