Title: On the Edge of Gone
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Review: The beginning of the novel set the scene for a high octane, action packing survival novel. The opening pages definitely succeeded in gripping my attention as a reader. I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel as I have read several dystopian books where Earth has been hit with nuclear bombs, or destroyed by global warming but never one where a comet has been involved. Due to her mother’s drug addiction Denise ends up waiting around for her sister; Iris who may or may not be dead instead of heading to the shelter. They also stop to help a few neighbors – at this point Denise wants to scream at her mother to not stop and drive faster. As luck would have it the passengers they pick up are getting on a generation ship – a spaceship designed to support life. But they are only beginning allowed to stay for two days. Although the comet strikes late it does strike and the clock begins to count down for Denise and her mother until they are alone in the desolate wasteland that was once their home. It is a bit unsettling to learn Denise is autistic and doesn’t cope well with change, it is also really disturbing to learn that Denise knows when they leave the ship she will be on her own to find her sister as her mother’s addiction will take her over eventually.
As Denise learns most about life on board the ship and how its passengers were selected, she wants nothing more than to stay despite the fact her sister is still out there because she knows Earth means death, she evens goes as far to offer one of the senior personnel drugs in exchange for passage which obviously doesn’t work. Despite the situation in which our main characters find themselves I didn’t really connect with Denise or her mother. I felt Denise was too indecisive and that may be due to her autism but I just didn’t feel that spark to route for her. After being kicked off the ship Denise doesn’t want to be stuck in a shelter but she also doesn’t want to be stuck on the surface, she also wants to find Iris but be on the ship at the same time it made her feel like a child who couldn’t make decisions on her own that she always needs someone to do it for her or tell her what to do. Although I did empathize with her over her mother’s addiction and how she attempts to deal with it.
I loved the setting in the book I have read many dystopian novels set in America, Australia and a few in the UK but never one set in Holland with Amsterdam as a vital location within the novel as that is where Denise and her mother will be heading to find Iris if she isn’t at the temporary shelter where they should have been in the first place. It isn’t until this point in the novel that we find out that Denise is black which actually makes me like this story more as I loved novel that I diverse and I find ethnic characters make the overall book more interesting. As Denise raids the airport with other kids from the ship in the hope of getting back on the ship a tsunami heads toward even though they are miles inland. The Captain puts the ship into lockdown and locks the group out in blind panic they try to get back on the ship via the emergency shuttle dock which is the only entrance unaffected by the lockdown. Denise being autistic literally saves her life as she went back to gather the others before the tsunami hits grants her passage aboard the ship although her mother still has to leave. Amid the disaster Denise is trying to find out how to gain passage for another her sister when she finds her although she isn’t that worried about her mother as she is on the path to destruction and she becomes a person the ship cannot afford to waste its energy or supplies on.
After Denise checks on her mother, she uses the raft Max made her to go to her old apartment to see if Iris returned there. On route she is hit by a water scooter piloted by another survivor after they clean up her wounds she trades the food, water and drugs in their safe for the water scooter. She promises to return it and help them but she has no real intention of doing as she needs to look out for herself if she is going to survive. Coupled with all this she is trying to control her autism so it doesn’t get in the way of the necessary things she must do. As she acclimatizes to life aboard the ship Denise begins working on how to get her family higher up the waiting list so she can get her sister and mother on board the ship again. Although her mother asks the impossible by asking Denise to smuggle her on board claiming she is lonely but Denise knows she’s in withdrawal – Denise refuses. Denise begins to use her autism as an advantage but helping in sorting the damaged and spoiled food from the good in the aftermath of the tsunami. The book at this point is slowing down a little for the initial powerhouse of an opening half.
By complete chance Denise finds Iris while looking for the missing food barrels. When they return to the ship Denise tells the Captain Iris found the barrel which she did and she is granted passage on the ship. Immediately after Denise fills Iris in on what is going on Iris wants to smuggle their mother on board despite the fact it could get all three of them kicked off and left for dead with only days till the ships launch. I also have a feeling Iris is more impulsive that Denise and may cause some trouble for Denise and even damage her standing on the ship. Now with only a few days to the ships’ launch the tension and suspense is being ramped up in preparation for the novels finale. Meanwhile their mother is still getting high and putting herself in danger of hypothermia and well as infection whether she will survive to see the launch or be on it remains to be seen. I particularly liked how close Denise and Els get, Els is Denise’s former teacher and they gel wonderfully as she is put to use and taught to thrive within the ship’s environment. Denise also finds it easy to talk to Els about her mother, sister and her autism and how it affects and changes her personally. I also liked that there is minimal stigma around Denise’s illness and how no one treats her any different, they even appear to be more respectful of her things and her personal space because she was able to tell them about it, minimizing the amount of uncomfortable situation Denise used to find herself in when she made eye contact or when people touched her. I loved how family and survival are the major themes in this novel and they are two things you don’t particularly see in this particular combination. I didn’t like the parents both being absent – one because of drugs, the other is halfway around the world – I really wished Denise and Iris could have had at least their father there to look out for them and to give them the guidance they sorely need at times.
After Denise and Iris smuggle their mother on board they are caught by Anke who agrees to keep her mouth shut in exchange for the girls going to rescue and smuggle her 6 month old niece on board. They are all taking a massive risk in doing do but the girls agree because they have no other choice. The ship is also being searched for a thief although it is unknown what was stolen. Denise becomes increasingly anxious that their mother will be found and they will all be left to rot and she is also debating whether she made the right choice bringing her mother aboard when Denise is unsure herself whether her mother can stay clean longer enough for the ship to be launched in 4 days’ time. Denise rides to the shelter Anke directed her to only to find out that Anke’s sister and the baby niece left days before. The people in the shelter terrify Denise but the leader there agrees not to say anything about this ship because they won’t let them on board anyway. Denise feels extremely panicked because Anke may talk if she doesn’t arrive back with her niece putting all their safety at risk as well as their places aboard the ship. As we come into the last section of the book things begin to really heat up, after Denise returns from the shelter she blackmails Anke into keeping quiet about their mother as the girls have video evidence that proves Anke was trying to smuggle her niece on so if they get kicked off so does she, neither is happy with the arrangement but they only have to keep it for a couple more days until the ship takes off. Denise becomes more and more anxious and paranoid with more searches of the ship and the threats bouncing between Anke and Iris. Max is also draw into the situation as Anke is his mother, meaning his position on this ship is also compromised along with the position of his entire family. This drive a small wedge between Denise and Max between she manages to explain in her own way she doesn’t want Anke thrown off the ship she just wants her mother on it which Max happens to agree with.
Another dramatic twist is that Iris is transgender and was born a boy but she also turns out to be the theft smuggling barrels of the ship for survivors who plans to wait on Earth until the surface is inhabitable again. Both the girls are basically imprisoned in a room while their mother they presume is safe on board or off they do not know. The ship is launching in one day and neither Denise nor Iris know whether they are going to be on it or not. In the last 30 pages of this novel are mainly about the ships take off and Denise’s decision to stay aboard because she knows herself and it is where she can be of most use. I absolutely loved the ending of this book it was heart-breaking but in a good way and it leaves the perfect opening for a sequel. I can wait to discover more by this author as I loved the writing style and the way the characters were written. Overall I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a heart-warming book that will fill up with hope and admiration from the first page until the last.
This book was sent to me for review by Abrams & Chronicle
Buy it here: