“Apocalypse for Beginners” written by the talented Nicolas Dickner is the story of the Randell family told from the perspective of Mickey Bauermann, a young boy from Riviere-du-Loup. He gets involved in the Randall’s strange obsessive behaviour in 1989 when Hope Randall becomes his close friend and he learns that each Randall family member chooses a date when the apocalypse will take place. When the date finally comes and the world doesn’t end, the Randall family member slowly loses control and goes mad.
In the beginning, Hope Randall doesn’t have a date when the world will end, but as time goes on she produces a date, July 17th, 2001. She soon begins writing the date everywhere, on pieces of paper, on binders, etc. Her obsession around this date doesn’t even falter when she watches her Mother spin out of control after her predicted date of the world ending has come and gone.
The relationship between Mickey and Hope is on the edge of becoming more than friends, but Hope’s fear of the world ending effects the relationship and it never kicks off. Hope has been “given” her date and in lieu of any feelings she might have for Mickey, she sets out on a quest to figure out how to evidentially prepare for the end of the world. This discovery leads her all the way to Japan, where Hope really begins to find herself and takes us, the reader, on a cultural journey outside the “bunker” basement where Hope and Mickey originally hid from the world.
It was filled with ups and downs and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is a story of living in fear and finding yourself. At first I thought the concept of the novel was a little obscure, but as I got reading it, I thought it was well thought out and flowed in a way that made me enjoy it as much as I did when I read “Nikolski“. It is an enjoyable read that takes you on a journey from Nova Scotia to Quebec to Japan adding depth and insight into the obscure complicated world of the Randall family.