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What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do?
Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says.
After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking.
Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.
In a sentence? Fabulously entertaining and well characterised, but with a lingering unsatisfying flavour because of the ending. (I worked really hard on that sentence. Don’t forget to appreciate it.)
I’m a huge fan of Steph Bowe. Her first book, GIRL SAVES BOY, made me laugh, cry, and cheer on the awesomeness of Australian authors (we seem to be a minority in fantastic YA). I also loved ALL THIS COULD END. But not as much. I’m still pondering the difference, but it could be second-book-blues, or just the lack of visual and sensual description. So much dialogue (which I love, of course), but where were the beats? The details? When the details were mentioned (like the Cadbury purple school uniforms) they were perfect. But otherwise, I felt like we just had pages of (well-written) conversation, without anything to break it up.
The characters? I LOVED the characters. Nina was well written, easy to relate to, and fantastic. But my favourite is Spencer. There is a definite shortage of boy-narrators in YA, but Spencer can make up for all of them. Spencer is awkward and shy. Being an awkward and shy person myself (I fool you internet friends so well), I felt like I understood Spencer.
The ending? I. Loved. The. Ending. It had the shocker I wanted, and it had the effect on me it needed. It was set up perfectly and I didn’t see it coming. Oh, ho, don’t sit there and guess. Go read it.
ALL THIS COULD END is a quick read (270 pages) and I connected with the characters, which (in my opinion) is what takes a book from being good to being FABULOUS.