Book Title:
Instructions for the End of the World
Book Author:
Jamie Kain
Publishing Date:
December 8th, 2015
St. Martin's Griffin
Date Read:
November 29th, 2015


From the author of The Good Sister comes a gripping novel about two sisters who learn that there are things in life—love, loss, and self-discovery—that you simply can't prepare for.

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck.

When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?

Instructions for the End of the World is a gripping, young adult novel that explores family, friendship, and love in the midst of the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

My Review

I had a bit of a hard time with this book.  It isn’t that I didn’t like it, because I did.  But when it comes down to it, I think the problem I had with this book was that nothing really happened…at least not anything like I was expecting.

Nicole has spent her life under her father’s strict ideas that the family must always be prepared for any kind of natural disaster that might strike.  Be it fire, floods, the end of the world…you name it, and her father tried to make sure the entire family was prepared.  While Nicole tries to follow in her father’s footsteps and learns to hunt and take care of herself, her little sister, Isabel hates their lifestyle and just wants to be normal, like any other teenager.  Their mother prefers actually having normal things…like nice clothes, food from the grocery store…and a house that isn’t falling apart…which is exactly the type of house that he moves their family into.  So when the four of them move into a house in the middle of nowhere that needs more repairs than it might even be worth, their mother puts their foot down and decides that she can’t handle it, and she leaves.

“So what do we do when the apocalypse happens from the inside?  When it’s our family, and not civilization itself, that falls apart?”

When their father realizes that he needs to go out and find their mother and try to put the family back together again, he leaves Nicole in charge, and goes off to search for her and try and bring her home.

That’s right – he leaves two teenage girls alone in a house that is falling down and has broken water pipes…so the house doesn’t even have running water.  Huh.  I mean, I’m not an expert or anything…but, what?  I get that he wants to find his wife, but leaving two young girls out in the middle of nowhere in pretty much a shack, alone, for weeks…I just can’t see any decent parent thinking this is a good idea…but, I guess in the end, Nicole learns what her father wanted her to learn all along:

“Survival means being able to rely on yourself, no matter what happens.”

Early on in this book we’re also introduced to a teenage boy, who’s called Wolf.  He is building a treehouse on Nicole’s family’s property when they move in, and he’s hoping that her parents won’t find it and make him tear it down.  I found myself enjoying Wolf’s character…he’s having a difficult time accepting his mother’s return (she spent the majority of Wolf’s life on various drugs and alcohol, so he doesn’t want to get his hopes up that she’s really cleaned her life up this time around).

This book was a quick read…it had it’s moments where it made me sad…like when Nicole’s mother left them…but I just couldn’t find myself getting attached enough to any of the characters in order for those moments to really have a lasting impact.  Most of the characters in this book just seemed distant and simple…like they were missing that layer of complexity that makes them interesting and easy to relate to.  I found this odd, because after reading Jamie Kain’s novel, The Good Sister, I was expecting more in terms of character development.

All in all, this is a nice book to curl up with on a cold, snowy day…bring your fuzziest blanket and some hot chocolate, and you’ll be set!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars
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2 Responses to Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain

  1. Yes, I completely agree, they did lack that extra layer that would have made them feel more real and the book more enjoyable. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but I have heard good things about the Good Sister.

    • Kelly says:

      I was a little wary when I picked up The Good Sister, since I had read this one first, but I loved it! That book was heartfelt and beautiful, and the characters are deep and complex…it seems like it was the complete opposite!

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