Jeff Giles, The Edge of Everything, Bloomsbury/Allen & Unwin, Feb 2017, 368pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781408869079
There was a time in my teenage years when books of power and integrity like The Changeover by Margaret Mahy stamped their indelible mark on me. The Edge of Everything plugged me straight back into that time of wonder and intensity, and from the moment I opened the first page I was caught.
The Edge of Everything is layers of mystery and tension, beautifully balanced and held together by characters so finely drawn that you can’t help caring about them.
There is Zoe, fierce, full of hope, smart and wry who is equal parts exasperated by and protective of her eight year old brother, Jonah, with all his quirks. There is their mother, who is carrying her own burden of secrets and responsibilities. And X, the mystery himself, both savage and vulnerable, innocent and guilty, and shaken to the core by his encounter with Zoe.
The story itself is gripping and atmospheric, but the true power of this book is in the layers of moral questions asked and explored. Good and evil, guilt and innocence lie at the heart of events. Which lines can be crossed without losing yourself? When should mercy be granted, and what are the consequences? What is the cost to the soul of those who are tasked with enacting righteous justice? In much the same way as Buffy the Vampire Slayer poses deep philosophical questions within metaphors of fantasy and horror, with an engaging balance of atmospheric darkness and wry humour, The Edge of Everything goes deeper than the surface story. Once the buzz of the initial reading of this book has worn off, I am going to have to go back and re-read to tease out some more of the layers.
There are some moments in the book that may haunt a more sensitive reader, again in much the same way that Buffy presents some strong and deeply affecting images of death, but I always felt that such moments were necessary and handled with respect for the impact they have.
There are many supernatural romances on the bookshelves these days. The Edge of Everything is going to appeal to girls, thirteen and up, who are looking for supernatural romance with a bit more depth and substance to it. I am waiting impatiently, now, for more. I love these characters, even the most minor of them, and want to know what happens next.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke