Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all a spoiler-free review of The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles. Thank you so much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me a copy of The Edge of Everything for review purposes.
The Edge of Everything was one of my most highly anticipated young adult releases for 2017, and I also mentioned it my recent Top 5 Wednesday blog post where we discussed our top five most anticipated debut author releases for 2017.
Unfortunately in 2016 I didn’t read that many (if any) debut author releases, and it’s definitely a goal of mine for 2017 to remedy that. I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity to read and review Jeff Giles’ debut, and am happy that I’ve already made progress on one of my reading resolutions for the year. So, let’s get into the spoiler-free review of The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles.
The Edge of Everything (Goodreads): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31170713-the-edge-of-everything
S U M M A R Y
For those who want a summary of The Edge of Everything, the story follows 17-year-old Zoe as she struggles with the death of her father and the murder of her elderly neighbours. One night during a particularly fierce blizzard, Zoe ventures out into the forest to search for her eight-year-old brother Jonah, who had been playing outside with their two dogs, but soon encounters a man- and an entire world- that she didn’t expect to find.
One thing I will say about this book is that the blurb doesn’t give away an awful lot about it, which is good in my opinion. The summary provided on Goodreads seems very in-depth, long and full of spoilers- in typical Goodreads fashion- so I would say that if you’re interested in reading The Edge of Everything, maybe stay away from Goodreads until after you’ve finished reading it. The more vague and mysterious The Edge of Everything is, the more I believe you’ll enjoy what it has to offer along the way.
C H A R A C T E R S
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the characters in The Edge of Everything. Sometimes I feel completely connected to them and at other times I feel like I don’t understand them at all, which might be because of how different X and Zoe communicate. X is a very old-fashioned character, raised by a woman from another era, and Zoe’s a teenage girl from the 21st century. Where X brings the more fantastical elements to The Edge of Everything, Zoe elicits a contemporary element.
X was probably my favourite character. He had intrigue, mystery and an innocence about him that had me wanting to defend his actions and handle the consequences later. I wanted to learn more about him as the book progressed- where he came from, what he does and the mystery behind the boy with no name.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Zoe and Jonah. I love sibling relationships that are portrayed well and considering the age gap between Zoe and Jonah, as well as Jonah’s ADHD and their father’s death, I felt that the bond between them was very authentic and honest. Jeff Giles showed how siblings argue and fight but also how they reconcile, and he wasn’t afraid to bring up hard topics around young children. I appreciated that Jeff Giles highlighted how fierce a relationship between two siblings can be.
I wanted more of the side characters in The Edge of Everything. I loved the representation of LGBTQIAP+ characters, and Val was one of the best. Even though we didn’t get too much of Val or her relationship with Gloria, what we did see of her stood out. I also enjoyed Dallas’ character, but at times I found him a little hard to handle. Although Dallas was sweet and adorable at times his character wasn’t entirely necessary to the overall storyline- I think he was introduced simply to be Zoe’s ex-boyfriend and not much else.
There were some relationships that I couldn’t get on board with. Zoe and X’s relationship developed very quickly that it was practically insta-love. Within 72 hours of meeting one another X and Zoe were devoted and willing to die for the other, and determined to only be with the other forever. X, a character who has never known love or companionship, becomes attached to Zoe very quickly, and Zoe herself practically forgets that her family exists because she’s so consumed by X.
The relationship between Zoe and her father was also disappointing. I’m not in any position to assess how accurate (or inaccurate) Zoe’s grieving process is because I’ve never lost a parent before, but there were certain times throughout the book where I felt that Zoe acted somewhat irrationally. Sometimes she would forget her father was dead, and I wasn’t convinced that her behaviour could be justified as grief. Zoe vacillates between missing her father and hating him, which only confuses the reasons for her behaviour. Overall, the relationship between Zoe and her father was frustrating.
W R I T I N G
The writing in The Edge of Everything is easily its strongest element. It was clear to me very early on that Jeff Giles is an extremely talented writer, and the writing style throughout the book was very impressive for a debut author release. The way this story was written made sure that my attention was captured the entire time, and the story itself was very fast-paced. I finished this book within a matter of days because I kept needing to know what was going to happen next to these characters.
I also appreciated how the writing made it so that the reader could easily jump into the story and understand what was happening in each scene. The way that Giles laid down the foundation(s) of the world made the plotline build on itself seamlessly, and made me even more interested to see what happened next. The mythology behind the Lowlands also made me eager to see what the consequences would be for some of the character’s actions. Giles’ writing is descriptive, lavish and beautiful in the way he established new scenes and settings (i.e. the Lowlands), and I imagined these places very clearly in my head whilst reading.
There’s something about the writing- particularly the dialogue- that seemed simultaneously old-fashioned and contemporary, which correlate to each of X’s and Zoe’s voices. X and Ripper are both old-fashioned characters yet we had characters such as Zoe, Jonah, Val, Dallas and Banger to contrast them with their modern, teenage ways of communicating.
O V E R A L L
Overall, The Edge of Everything was such a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed learning about the Lowlands and about X as a character. Jeff Giles is a very talented writer, and the writing style kept me engaged and wanting to know more throughout the entire book.
The Edge of Everything is a breath of fresh air in the genre of urban fantasy, and I found a lot of originality with regards to the characters and world-building. However, I couldn’t get on board with the main romance in this book and also had trouble believing in some of the other relationships, romantic, platonic and/or familial. Although The Edge of Everything was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, the insta-love overshadowed my enjoyment of some of the other elements of the book, and so it overall fell a little bit flat for me.
I rated The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles 3.75 out of 5 on Goodreads, and I will continue to read from Jeff Giles, and from this series.
Once again thank you so much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me a copy of The Edge of Everything to review. If you liked this review and are now interested in purchasing your own copy of this book, I’ll leave a few links down below.
Let me know if you’ve read The Edge of Everything down below in the comments, and whether or not you enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about this one and would love to discuss it some more.
Until next time, happy reading!
The Edge of Everything:
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Edge-of-Everything-Jeff-Giles/9781408869079?ref=grid-view