Image Description: the book-cover of On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Title: On The Edge of Gone
Creator: Corinne Duyvis
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Audible Studios
Format and Price: Audio-book at $14.95
Stars: 3.5 stars out of 5
About The Creator:
A lifelong Amsterdammer, Corinne Duyvis spends her days writing speculative MG and YA novels. She enjoys brutal martial arts and gets her geek on whenever possible. She also sleeps an inordinate amount.
About The Book:
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?
YAR! Thar Be Spoilers Ahead! Ye Have Been Warned!
Aspects of The Novel I Did Like:
~Sliding Scale of Character versus Plot: This novel sits very much at the character end of the scale. How the Characters feel and think is the main focus. How a character thinks and feels is what motivates the vast majority of events that take place.
Most of the character’s thoughts and actions are understandable and realistic given the harsh circumstances, however, this has resulted in a strong trade-off (More further down). The strong character focus is going to be hit-or-miss with some readers
~Representation Matters: As Corinne Duyvis is Autistic, so it makes sense that Denise’s Autism is portrayed accurately. The narrative doesn’t use problematic Autism tropes either. Denise’s meltdowns and SPD moments are portrayed accurately and sympathetically. Denise is determined, clever, and adaptable, but she’s not gifted in any particular way.
Denise earns her place just like everyone else. This is rarely written well. Even now, there’s an inadequate amount of Neurodiverse representation in mainstream literature, so it’s important to show that Denise isn’t treated any differently from the other teenagers in the novel. I can easily see this novel being added to Secondary College Reading Lists.
~Strong World Building: A lot of the novel contains flashbacks and explanations for how Society got to the place it is now. Corinne Duyvis is excellent at establishing her narrative world. I could easily imagine the places Denise mentions: like her secondary college, her apartment she shares with her mother and sister Iris, and the Vet where she volunteers to help with Cats.
Aspects of The Novel I Did Not Like:
~Slow Narrative Pacing: As mentioned previously, On The Edge of Gone is a character-focus novel, and Corinne Duyvis knows her characters well. The trade-off for this was it resulted in slow narrative pacing, the pacing sometimes slowed to a crawl in some sections, which meant that this novel was a struggle for me to get through.
~Different Expectations: I was under the expectation that the bulk of the novel would take place in space, however, the novel takes place on Earth the whole time. The ship doesn’t leave Earth until the very end of the novel. I feel as though the launch was dragged out a lot longer than it should have been.
~Flimsy Plot: Due to the strong character-focus, the readers can easily understand a character’s motives and reactions, and those motives and reactions drive the plot. An example of this is when a young lady, about the same age as Denise, is accidentally left outside during a tidal wave, and she dies.
Annika, the mother of the young lady, feels (rightly or wrongly) that Denise is to blame for this and starts looking for a reason to get Denise kicked off the ship. A result of this mindset is that Annika starts keeping tabs on Denise, and finds out that Denise and Iris are trying to smuggle their mother abord the ship without permission.
The problem with this particular style of novel-plotting is that it falls apart with a little tweaking. Like how it could easily have been someone else’s child that died. Would Annika still be looking for a reason to get rid of Denise? Would Annika be following Denise around on behalf of these other parents?
If you take away the death of Annika’s daughter as the motive, I feel that Annika doesn’t have a strong enough reason to want Denise to be removed from the ship. If someone else’s child had died, Annika would have thought it was a tragedy, but she would have focused on her job, which means Denise and Iris would have successfully smuggled their mother aboard.
In my view, the events of the plot should be inevitable, like a chain of dominos, they should still fall into place even if a couple dominos/plot-points are removed/changed.
~Show Don’t Tell: The entire novel takes place in First Person Intimate Point of View from the sole POV of Denise. Now, this could just be a problem for me, I understand that a lot of readers enjoy First Person POV, however, it just doesn’t work for me.
Instead of being shown flashbacks in a third-person POV, the reader is told information in a past-tense first-person POV, which result in either bogging down the narrative or slowing the pace. Half-way through the novel, Denise and Iris are reunited, and the reader is told (not shown from Iris’s POV) via Denise about Iris’s side quest.
The reader is also told that Iris is a trans-woman, instead of being shown this information from Iris’s own POV, and it was told in a confusing clunky manner. If the novel had the dual POV of both Denise and Iris, I feel as though the clunkiness of discussing Iris’s transition and her traumatic Side Quest would have been handled better/smoother.
I also think the switching between Denise’s POV and Iris’s POV would have helped with the slow narrative pacing and lack of conflict issues. Annika is the closest I can also understand that perhaps the Author wanted a novel purely from the perspective of an Autistic person.
~Character As A Plot Device: I understand this is a Young Adult novel and its primary objective is to focus on the thoughts and feelings of Denise, who is only sixteen at the time. I feel as though the ending is supposed to be showing how Denise has grown as a character, how she’s setting boundaries with her mother, and how her mother will supposedly get the help she needs.
These are important things, however, I have a problem with the “confrontation” scene with Denise’s mother (this involves Denise telling her mother how the situation will be going forward). I got the feeling that the scene was supposed to be presented as a “coming age” moment or character development milestone, I can’t help but think that this victory rings a little hollow.
Everything within the novel is told/shown from Denise’s point of view, which means we never truly understand why Denise’s mother became addicted to drugs (or at least I didn’t). I do understand that sometimes there isn’t always an underlying reason or explanation for addiction. Addiction can be complicated and difficult to understand.
If this was the point the author was attempting to convey, then I feel as though this point is undermined by the way Denise’s mother behaves and the way she is treated within the narrative. If Denise’s mother didn’t have a problem with drug addiction, then there wouldn’t be a plot or a source of conflict in the novel, and this doesn’t sit well with me.
I feel as though Denise’s mother isn’t a three-dimensional character in her own right but simply exists as a method to move the plot forward when it’s convenient. I also feel as though Denise didn’t attempt to smuggle her mother aboard out of love for her mother, I feel as though the reason that Denise only did it because that’s what Iris wanted.
Denise’s conversation with Iris could have been a good opportunity to explore why/how she felt that way, for her to talk about her resentment towards her mother, or perhaps some self-reflection on how Denise felt as though Iris acted more like her mother than her mother did, but that doesn’t happen. Denise doesn’t question Iris on her possible motives either, which could have been an interesting source of conflict.
All in all, I feel that this novel had a lot of possibilities, however, it didn’t quite live up to the potential available. I am also willing to acknowledge that this situation could be an “It’s Not You, It’s Me” type of deal. Readers who like deep-dives into characterisation would probably enjoy this novel. It’s just not for me.
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