Author: Jamie Kain
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not affect my review.**
When Nicole’s survivalist father relocates their family to the middle of nowhere, she isn’t sure what to make of the situation. She’s always been the obedient daughter, even when her father’s doomsday preparations bordered on crazy. When an argument between her parents ends with her mother leaving and her father chasing after her, Nicole is forced to care for herself and her younger sister Izzy. The longer her parents are away, the more Nicole doubts the skills her father taught her are enough to survive the collapse of her organized little world.
Jamie Kain’s Instructions for the End of the World had an interesting array of characters, but its thin plot subtracted from its other positive qualities. While the novel focuses heavily on the internal struggles of its characters, the circumstances surrounding Nicole never felt dire enough for me to believe she had to rely on her survival skills in order to make it day by day. Hunting is suppose to be a skill Nicole excels at, but even when her parents leave her and her sister on their own, she never seems to do any actual hunting. I enjoyed Nicole’s point of view and found her most relatable as she struggled between being who her father wanted her to be and who she really was on the inside, but I didn’t feel that anything was truly at stake while reading. The setting of the novel, which takes place a year after 9/11, felt a little off. Part of the reason Nicole’s father is so focused on prepping for a disaster is because of this terrorist attack, but aside from being mentioned once or twice, the author does not take the time to show how this event altered everyone else’s perception of the world beside her father.
The Sadhara Village, a spiritual retreat, located just beyond the land belonging to Nicole’s family, with its strange mixture of characters becomes a direct contrast to Nicole’s rigid life. Wolf, a young man on the brink of adulthood, has recently withdrawn from the other members of his community. He’s also dealing with the return of his alcoholic mother from rehab, and finding it nearly impossible to believe that she’ll remain sober this time around. Even though I liked the pacing of Wolf and Nicole’s relationship, it was hard to see exactly what they saw in each other initially. Sadhara, for the most part, is a bit of a mystery. Aside from Wolf, I didn’t feel like we got to know enough about the community. Laurel is another member of Sadhara who we get small glimpses of, but her own journey felt incomplete and unimportant because she wasn’t a big part of the main story.
Instructions for the End of the World is a quick story that has good characters but wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked.