June 05, 2020

#BookReview & #AuthorChat: Agnes at the End of the World by @KMcWilliams17 @crossroadreview


Synopsis: The Handmaid's Tale meets Wilder Girls in this unique, voice-driven novel from Kelly McWilliams.

Agnes loves her home of Red Creek--its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town's strict laws. What she doesn't know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet.

Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn't a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek?

As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn't safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?


This title will be released on June 9, 2020. 

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Rating: ★★★★★
My Review: First off I really want to tell you guys that although this book is faith oriented I didn't find it preachy in the slightest.  Agnes's faith although based in God felt more to me like energy etc.  It was very interesting to find a story where everyone who possessed this power had different ways that it manifested.  With Agnes she was connected to the world at large and I could just imagine what that felt like.  


The other part of this story was that Agnes's little brother was a Type One Diabetic.  My oldest was diagnosed as a type one a few years ago so I know first hand how it all works.  Williams did a great job with what she did with this illness.  Ive read a few titles that diabetes was added and they did it horribly.   

This story was one that I will not forget and although it is a stand alone it did end with a slight open feel that I could see another story being told. However, I don't think it is really needed.   This story at first was full of so much fear. I was so scared that something was going to happen to these children.  We learn so much about what Agnes is going to keep her brother alive and feeling like she's in rebellion against the laws that have been set forth by their faith.  It was emotional but still had so much hope within the first few pages.  

As the story went on and I realized that this wasn't just a simple story of a girl trying to save her brother while learning that the cult that she has grown up in isn't what its all cracked up to.  But it turns out this was a dystopian about the end and beginning of the world.  This was a very dark story with power characters and a powerful message about having faith not only in whatever gods/goddesses you believe in but also in yourself.  That you are way stronger than you think you are.  Agnes goes from this little girl who doesn't know if she is doing what's right to this powerful leader and figure of their world.  

As the story unfolded I found that the pacing of this tale was perfectly done.  It flowed so well and gripped my heart!  The ending of this one had me crying so bad! So be warned that you will need tissues!!  

Overall, this story was powerful, dark, and important!  



Go Into This One Knowing: Child Marriage (not in depth), No Rape or Beatings, Light Romance, Virus spreading across the world 









Review

"In a word: beautiful. With Agnes at the End of the World, Kelly McWilliams has crafted an emotional, powerful story, filled with hope and grace and utterly selfless love. Absolutely unforgettable."― Jodi Meadows, NYT bestselling author of My Plain Jane and the Fallen Isles Trilogy

"A powerful story, exquisitely told. Agnes is the antidote we need in our own dystopian times. She filled me with hope!"― Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of Openly Straight and The Bridge

"Unforgettable and full of hope, Agnes at the End of the World is at times beautiful, at others dark. The love that transcends these pages is a triumph."― Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series

"A truly unique gem of a book. Set during the apocalypse and featuring a disturbing virus and terrifying cult, McWilliams's tale is ultimately one of hope. Agnes is a fascinating heroine-determined, selfless, and brave. I was rooting for her from the very first page."― Erin Bowman, Edgar Award-nominated author of Contagion

"Agnes at the End of the World is a carefully woven ode to faith-finding love in the shadow of death and discovering God during the apocalypse. Agnes's journey gripped my heart and kept me turning pages well into the night."― Ryan Graudin, award-winning author of Wolf by Wolf and The Walled City

"In Agnes At The End of The World, McWilliams has created a female protagonist whose strength relies, remarkably, not on brute force but in her deep sense of spirituality. From the lyrical prologue to the satisfying climax, young adults will enjoy the journey that transforms Agnes from an oppressed child into a leader fighting for the survival of her world. In these difficult and divisive times, I find it particularly important to read stories explore a protagonist's inner strength and so I was intrigued by McWilliams's plot."―Padma Venkatraman, author, The Bridge Home, Winner of the Walter Award and the Golden Kite Award

"McWilliams delves deeply into the varied and complex relationships between spirituality and idolatry, feminism and patriarchy, love, family, and hope."―Booklist

*"In this near-apocalyptic adventure and spiritual contemplation, McWilliams provides readers with a believable world, deeply drawn relationships, and an inspiring heroine. An empowering narrative and trope-busting plotting earns this book a place on almost every shelf."―School Library Journal, starred review

*The ornate, complex text takes readers through Agnes' and Beth's journeys of reconciling their faith and desires, imbuing her well-rounded characters with purpose.... An excellent read.―Kirkus, starred review

*"Strong apocalyptic worldbuilding alternates with dialogue-laden scenes, while minor characters, such as the Burn Squad captain charged with eradicating nests, move the plot forward in absorbing and dynamic ways."―Publishes Weekly, starred review

About the Author

Kelly McWilliams is a mixed-race writer who has always gravitated towards stories about crossing boundaries and forging new identities. For this and so many other reasons, young adult literature will always be close to her heart. Her novel, Agnes at the End of the World, benefitted from a We Need Diverse Books Mentorship.

She has loved crafting stories all her life, and her very first novel, Doormat, was published when she was just fifteen-years old. Kelly has also worked as a staff writer for Romper, covering issues important to women and families. She lives in Colorado with her partner and young daughter. Visit her website at KellyMcWilliamsAuthor.com.


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