On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. ★★★1/2
On the Edge of Gone is a stand alone YA science fiction novel about the end of the world. A comet is about to hit Earth, and Denise’s family does not have a place in either the permanent shelters beneath the ground or the generation ships heading off planet. Denise and her drug addicted mother are heading to a temporary shelter (her sister Iris is nowhere to be found). By chance as the comet hits, they find a generation ship that has not yet left Earth. However, all the spots on the ship have already been filled, and Denise fears that she cannot justify her own usefulness since she’s autistic. And even if she does gain a place, what about her mother and sister? What about everyone else who will be left behind?
On the Edge of Gone‘s strongest attribute is the compelling voice of its lead. I felt utterly immersed in Denise’s head. She’s worried about what will become of herself and her family, but she also interacts with others who don’t have the faintest chance of leaving the planet. Her worry, fear, and guilt make On the Edge of Gone a very emotional read.
“Whether someone is useful only matters if you value people by their use.”
A lot of apocalyptic fiction is inherently ableist. You have a grizzled male hero who survives while those “weaker” than him die. Maybe he’ll have a sexy female love interest who’ll also survive to guarantee the continuation of the species. I’ve seen this pattern so many times that it’s a relief to have an apocalyptic book that directly questions the unspoken assertion that in a survival situation the only reason people matter is how useful they are. This thread ties together all of Denise’s family. Besides her own autism, Denise’s mother has been addicted to drugs for years and isn’t able to function well. Denise’s sister is transgender and wouldn’t be able to have children (a possible issue for a generation ship). All of the characters are wonderfully diverse. In addition to being autistic, Denise is half-Dutch and half-Surinamese.
While Denise came through very clearly to me, none of the secondary characters seemed to have as much characterization. However, this could be a side effect of the first person narration style.
On the Edge of Gone does not have the action level of much other YA science fiction. I would say that it is more focused on how Denise reacts to the particular situation she’s in and her relationships with the people around her. Even while there’s not a whole lot of action, I found the pace brisk.
While I enjoyed reading On the Edge of Gone, it didn’t wow me enough that I would reread it again in the future. However, I am glad I read it in the first place and would definitely recommend it.
I received a free ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The book is released on March 8th 2016.