Book Title: Izzy at the End of the World
Author: K.A. Reynolds
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Neurodiversity
My rating: 3.5/5 Stars
The Last Kids on Earth meets Margaret Peterson Haddix in this middle grade adventure about fourteen-year-old Izzy, an autistic girl surviving the end of the world who must team up with her loveable dog to uncover the hidden truth behind her family and the rest of humanity’s disappearance.
Ever since Izzy Wilder’s mom died, she’s wanted life to feel normal. She plays video games with her little sister, helps her grandparents around the house, and takes care of her best dog, Akka. But losing her mom is far from normal, and for Izzy, who is autistic, it feels like the end of the world.
When mysterious lights flash across the mountains outside Izzy’s house one night, and suddenly everyone except her and Akka seem to have disappeared in an instant, Izzy is more alone than ever. But Izzy is a fighter and she won’t lose anyone else in her family, even if it means battling terrifying gray, ugly monsters and decoding cryptic messages that seem a lot like her mom talking to her from beyond the grave.
In the face of disaster, Izzy and Akka embark on an epic adventure filled with nail-biting suspense, unexpected allies, and life’s greatest mysteries as they uncover the true endurance of the human spirit and save the world.
Izzy at the End of the world is a Middle Grade story with fantastic autism rep, that’s both light and cute, with some heavy and hard-hitting topics. This one was definitely enjoyable, and even though I had some issues with it along the way, I did overall like it. I will say that this book is more intended for younger audiences, which is apparent in the writing style and the MC’s voice, so if that’s not your thing, this probably won’t be the story for you. But if you’re like me and enjoy middle grades regardless of the age group, then I’d suggest picking it up!
The beginning of Izzy at the End of the world was a little slow, but once Izzy and her best dog Akka meet up with Raven—the only other person around after the lights appear—it picks up substantially, and adds a great mix of mystery and high stakes. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Izzy and Raven. Their communication with each other, while maybe not 100% accurate for kids their age, was very healthy and clear, which I think sets a great example for younger kids. Even when the stress of their situation got to them and they snapped, they were quick to apologize to each other and vocalize what was going on in their heads. And of course, Akka was the best boy who deserves all the treats.
Even though Izzy at the End of the World was a bit of an apocalyptic or dystopian story, there was a heavy emphasis on mystery elements. Izzy is convinced that her mom, who’d died a year before the events of the book takes place, is with her during this journey, and is leaving her clues to figure out how to find her family and save the world. Between her mom’s journal, the songs on her end of the world playlist, and other clues Izzy and Raven discover, they realize the coincidences are adding up and it’s something they can’t ignore. I loved this part of the plot, because while the story seems like it’s about Izzy, her dog, and her new friend battling aliens at the end of the world, it’s also a journey of grief and processing loss. This part was done excellently.
Really, the biggest issue I had with the story was some of the exposition. Some of this might be changed in the final edition, but there was a lot of telling instead of showing, especially in the beginning. A lot of the emotional parts in the beginning were also told instead of shown, which is a bit of a bummer because the experiences Izzy deals with are incredibly intense, and when it was told like that, it lost some of its depth. The other issue I had was the ending of the story. Throughout the entire plot, the mystery is woven so tight that I was practically on the edge of my seat, but it’s never really resolved. The way it happens felt so open ended and was a little disappointing to me.
However, I can’t mention this book without talking about the autism representation, because this was absolutely my favorite part. I’ve been seeing more and more books being released that follow autistic characters in a variety of situations instead of just contemporary books about autism, and I’m so excited for that variation in representation. Having an autistic MC lead the charge in saving the world made my heart soar, and I’m so glad autistic children today will be able to grow up with books like this. Even though Izzy was put up against situations that challenged her sensory issues, her sense of routine, and more, her love for her family persevered, and she did everything in her power to get to them. I just love this, because it shows autism authentically, in a way that it doesn’t hinder Izzy from being the hero of her story, but it’s also still part of her, and it doesn’t just go away for the sake of the plot. Also, I adored her bond with Akka, because it reminds me of my bond with my cat. I’m so glad he was with her on that journey.
Overall, I did really enjoy Izzy at the End of the World! While some of the writing choices might not have been for me, I still recommend checking this one out, especially for the autism representation.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out my last blog post: The Buried and the Bound (ARC Review)