Review of Girls at the Edge of the World by Laura Brooke Robson
A very good premise, but the book as a whole didn’t all come together for me. This book was a really interesting mix of apocalyptic, dystopian, cli-fi, fantasy, and YA. When you throw in sapphic characters… well let’s just say this was a highly anticipated book for me. Maybe my expectations were a little too high, I’m not sure, but in the end, this was just a slightly above average read. I think Robson showed a lot of potential with this debut, but there were clearly some newbie bumps.
The premise was interesting and had this almost Noah’s Ark feel but in a fantasy setting. There were a lot of good ideas here that I really liked, but I did find the book hard to get into. I know a lot of fantasy books start out slow, I’m used to it, but the pace seemed to drag here a lot longer than I expected. It seems like everyone has something to do, but no one is in a hurry to do it, and considering the world could be ending, the slow pace didn’t really fit well for me. On the other side, the last quarter or so of the book is completely opposite so it was almost like reading everything in fast-forward. I hate to say this but I wondered if the author just wanted to get everything over with so that the story would end.
While I really liked parts of the premise, I’m a character-driven read first and foremost. I found both mains to be likeable, but I didn’t feel like I got to really know them. One character is secretive so she doesn’t talk about her past. While we learn some things being in her POV, because everything is such a secret, you don’t really get to learn much about her and you don’t get that close reader/character connection. The other huge problem is that the inner voices, of both mains, are too similar. This book is first person but 2 POV, which I love, but I cannot tell you how many times I had no idea who was speaking. And Robson clearly labels whose POV we are in after each break but they sounded so similar at times that I would still get confused.
One of the reasons I read this book is because it had a WLW romance but unfortunately that was a disappointment. There is hardly any connection between the two main characters. I feel like they are just really at the beginning of the “friends” stage, not the “I’m so in love let’s risk our lives for each other” stage. There is a big difference there and I never saw them make that transition. I liked them as a couple, but romantic feelings really seemed to come out of almost nowhere. There is another WLW romance that is told in one flashback (why only one I don’t know) and a few memories. Unfortunately, that didn’t really work either and it was hard to see why one character would do anything possible to honor that past romance.
Even with all my complaints, I still liked the feel of the story and the premise. I liked what the characters did for a living and the bond of friendship they all had together. I must admit I am confused about the ending. I’m not a person who thinks every fantasy book has to be a series, some of my favorites are just one-book stories. The problem here is I can’t tell if this book is book one in the series, or is it the end? If it is a series is this the end of these characters as the mains anyway? The ending is one of those opened to your interpretations kind of endings. I personally felt like it was the end, but I read other reviews saying they can’t wait until book 2. I honestly don’t know the answer, but if anyone has heard for sure would you please let me know. If there is a sequel I would seriously consider reading it. A lot of the issues I had are easier fixes and Robson will grow the more she writes. I could easily see this as a series that gets better with every book. 3.25 Stars.
A copy was given to me for a review.