Title: On The Edge of Gone
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Publisher: Amulet Books / ABRAMS
Publication date: 8th March 2016
Buy at: BookDepository
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 outside 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.
A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. 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?
I’m sure most people have wondered how they’d fare if the world “ended”. I know I have – I’m not a particularly courageous person, nor am I made of heroine material. I wouldn’t lead people, or inspire them, or even be particularly good at surviving. Those stories always seem too epic and grandiose to get a sense of what’s happening at a smaller scale, at a personal level – I mean, how many of us would really be a Katniss Everdeen?
But not this book. “Over the Edge of Gone” gives us such a good look at this small corner of the world, at the story of just one girl and those around her. It’s the story of how Denise reacts to a comet hitting Earth and what happens afterwards – her own personal perspective, opinions, reactions. It takes a worldwide catastrophe and explores what makes us human, the gritty details, our own sense of worth, how we relate to each other, what is right and wrong, if there’s even a way to measure that in times of extreme crisis.
The plot, pacing, and conflict are great. There were times I was clutching at my Kindle and felt my heart racing as I worried about the characters, how the urgency of it all made me be there with them, running, hiding, fearing for their lives. Even when there’s no actual action, just the situation the characters are in, the decisions they need to take, make you anxious on their behalf. The way the story is told, from Denise’s perspective, makes everything so much more relatable and immediate. I couldn’t put the book down, I had to know what happened, I was so immersed in the story. The world-building, the way you are given glances of how society has changed in these 20 years, and specially how the world has transformed after the comet hits makes it all so real and raw. So chilling, and yet so tangible.
But this book specially thrives on the relationships between the characters, how their fears and wishes affect those around them. How people come together – or not – when crisis hits so close to home. How they react and how everyone has their reasons and is their own person despite what is happening around them. There’s a cast of such diverse, complex, and distinct characters, and they all have their own stories, their own reasoning. I never once felt they were hollow or under-developed, and there were always several layers to who they were, what they did.
I also want to point out that the main character is autistic. Neurodiversity is so rare in SFF these days, and this felt so well done. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but for me it felt immensely authentic and genuine. After all, this is a #OwnVoices book, a term the author herself coined (go check it out if you don’t know what it is!).
This is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time, and that I’ll throw at everyone who listens to me. Besides being a great example of diversity, it is also an amazing addition to a quieter type of science-fiction, one more focused on the characters and their struggles. I can’t wait what Corinne Duyvis will give us next.
The book in a quote
“I look at the sky and the dust that separates us from the stars (…). I breathe in the night air, the rotten night air, and I miss, I miss, I miss.”