Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry
Contemporary | Mental Health | Young Adult
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Released August 6th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Words matter. Words are important, their definitions and histories are important, they mean something. Words tell every story that has ever been told, by fires in caves and castles and by prairie campfires. Under blue skies, under blankets of stars, in mountains and valleys, and forests and deserts. Thousands of years, thousands of words, thousands of people who have loved each other, needed each other, grasped for each other in the dark of the world.
Readers rely on a book’s synopsis to tell them if it’s the sort of book they would like to read. Sometimes, however, those synopses can be very misleading.
Here is the publisher’s synopsis for Let’s Call It a Doomsday:
There are so many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.
Despite Ellis’s anxiety — about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones — the two girls become fast friends. As Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, she learns there are secrets Hannah isn’t telling her. But with time ticking down, the search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?
Katie Henry, the author of Heretics Anonymous, delivers an engrossing and thoughtful tale about how people survive — with some faith in family, friends, and maybe a few prepper forums.
I read that and thought, “Oh cool, a new post-apocalyptic book! I should read that!”, and I doubt I’m the only one. There is nothing apocalyptic about this young adult novel, and because I went into the book expecting it to be, I ended up not really enjoying it.
This doesn’t mean that the book was bad. In fact, Katie Henry’s writing was quite good, and if I had known what the book was actually about before going into it, I would have rated it higher. However, the synopses given for this book is actively misleading.
So, what is the book actually about? It’s about a girl named Ellis who has an anxiety disorder and her new friend Hannah. Ellis is obsessed with preparedness and being able to protect her family for any kind of catastrophe that could possibly happen. She then meets Hannah, who convinces Ellis that she knows when and where the world will end. Together, they try to discover exactly what will happen.
The real story, however, is Ellis learning to overcome her anxiety, and Hannah trying to find someone that she’s lost (I don’t want to say who exactly due to spoilers).
From early on in the book, I identified with Ellis. Aside from the Mormonism, she is pretty much an exact version of who I was in high school. Especially her love of her high school’s library, just like I loved mine:
It’s a perfect place within another perfect place. And maybe a public school library wouldn’t be everyone’s perfect place, but it’s mine. Everything about the library is routine. Every time I walk inside, the steps I take are as replicable as a lab experiment, and much safer.
Also, her internal dialogue could have been taken straight from my 16-year-old brain. It’s rare that I find a character who reminds me of the anxious, depressed, mess of a girl that I was in high school, but this book reminded me that it’s okay to be who you are, even if that means having anxiety. I wish I had read this book in high school.
It was interesting to read a book where the main character is religious and actively practicing. While I’m not at all religious, it’s an unusual aspect of a genre that is rarely touched upon, and added a unique touch to the story. I learned a lot about Mormons that I never knew before.
I wish that I hadn’t felt mislead by the synopsis, because I know I would have enjoyed the book more had I not been expecting something apocalyptic to happen. Publishers need to be more careful about marketing to the right crowd.