A delightful comedy of post-millennial manners, apocalyptic career moves, and a woman’s last chance to get life right…
RULE #1: DON’T PANIC-IT ONLY ATTRACTS SHARKS It’s not the end of the world. That’s what 39-year-old Tess Eliot has to remind herself after losing her job writing a newspaper column (“Tess Knows Best”) and being dumped by her boyfriend for a younger woman (a feng shui expert? Really?) Then Tess is hired to write an etiquette guide preparing readers for the Ancient Mayan doomsday of December 21, 2012, and she has to ask herself: Could the world really be coming to an end?
RULE # 12: LIVE EACH DAY AS A JOYOUS ADVENTURE At first, Tess fakes her way through chapters like “Boundaries in the Bunker” and “Cannibalism: Yes or No?” But after uncovering a secret plot for world destruction, she is forced to embark on a life-changing odyssey of her own-involving all-too-close encounters with touchy-feely survivalists, conspiracy theorists and one handsome guy who seems way too perfect.
Filled with wit and insight (including Tess Eliot’s “Twelve Rules to Live and Die By”), Etiquette for the End of the World is a deeply funny novel of romance and self-discovery.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, um. It could have been better. By a significant amount.
This wasn’t a terrible book. It’s not the worst book I’ve read. But it’s… it’s confused.
Look, I run a funny apocalyptic website (In Case of Survival). I know what I’m talking about here. The bits of the book that are dedicated to the funny side of apocalyptic theory and the sort of guides an affectionate parody might include are spot on. In fact, some of her chapter headings sounded like things I have written. If ICoS was higher profile, I might suspect shenanigans. Also entertaining were the descriptions of the cult and the experiences of the main character. The writing is light and forthy and silly, which fits the tone and style. It’s all fine, all good. I was enjoying myself. Noticing some problems with pacing here and there, but enjoying myself.
Until the last third.
What the fuck.
Sudden real(tm) apocalyptic threat! Sudden new love interest just thrown in so that she’s not a single loser by the end of the book! LAUGHABLY bad science! Pacing issues out the wazoo! I am not kidding here, the last third read like a rough draft that accidentally got published. It’s so rushed, so incoherent and so ridiculous that I felt like I was reading a completely different book. Dear GOD.
No. Don’t do that to me in the last third of a book, please. I’m too invested. I’ll hate your book worse than if it started like that.
2 stars, and only because I like writing funny apocalypse articles.
Review copy given free through Netgalley
- Book Reviewers: To Thank or Not to Thank; What is the Ettiquette? (writesbymoonlight.wordpress.com)
- End of the World (mattlewis.typepad.com)
- Get Apocalyptic – The Case for the New Radical (alternet.org)
- The Apocalypse is nigh (It always has been) (jessicafreedom.wordpress.com)
- Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide (lordmustache.wordpress.com)