This is Not the End
Enter a completely normal world with one exception: at eighteen, you can choose one person to bring back from the dead. Chandler Baker, in her novel This is not the End, forms strong and complex relationships between her main characters, arguably one of her biggest strengths in this book.
Lake, the main character, loses her best friend and boyfriend just weeks before her eighteenth birthday. If it weren’t enough that she must choose between the two people she is closest to, her brother, a quadriplegic, has a second chance at a healthy life through Lake’s resurrection choice. Upon discovering that her loving boyfriend has organized a scavenger hunt for her birthday, Lake knows that she must find the clues to make the best possible choice between her two best friends and her brother. However, the journey to the end of the hunt brings up new and challenging information about the people she loves. Luckily, a spunky boy who she used to go to school with, Ringo, assists her through not only the hunt but the precarious grieving process.
Baker excels at tapping into raw emotions and crafting real and relatable characters. Lake’s shameless awareness of her beauty and honesty in her narration cause the novel to shine. But the not-so-shy and meek protagonist might be one of the only cliches Baker avoids. An all too unnecessary and quick romance (although sweet), parental friction with the children, and gimmicky the hunt all prove to set back an altogether grand narrative. The fresh premise, successful character development, and strength of narrative voice save the novel from its miscellaneous cliches. Luckily, the positives are the significant character and story arcs, which keep the reader flipping from page to page. Baker succeeds in making a “one-nighter” story with this page-turner.