The world will end on Thursday, July 27, 2000. At least, that’s what Reverend Beelson has told his congregation. That’s why Marina and Jed and their parents have joined the rest of the Reverend’s flock at a mountain retreat to await the end of the world. But this world has only just begun for Jed and Marina, two teenagers with more attitude than faith. Why should the world end now, when they’ve just fallen in love for the first time?
provides a front-row seat for the type of event most of us only witness on a TV screen. Reverend Raymond Beelson is gathering 144 "Believers" atop Mount Weeupcut in Massachusetts to camp out, pray, and await Armageddon--July 27, 2000--when he predicts that his faithful flock will be saved as the rest of the world is set ablaze in fire and brimstone. We experience the month leading up to this climax through the eyes of two teenagers who have never met before, Jed and Marina, each of whom have come to the compound out of a sense of responsibility toward their families. Young Jed is only on the mountain to watch over his father who "went a little crazy" after his wife left the family: "When my father told me that the world was going to end I figured he was making some sort of weird joke." Jed's sarcasm, humor, and flippancy toward the Believers does not erase the love he feels for his newly devout father, nor his capacity for empathy toward members of the congregation. Marina is a Believer, or so she tries to be, in the hope that somehow her faith will restore harmony to her family. She has traveled to the mountain with her younger brothers at her mother's fervent insistence, but her fear that her father will remain below with the rest of the nonbelievers to burn alive unnerves her.
Coauthors Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville artfully sculpt the alternating voices and perspectives of Marina and Jed, and readers will be swept up in the thoughts and emotions of these complex young people. The skillful writing raises this novel above others--these characters are immensely believable as they struggle with matters of family and faith, while maintaining a smart, convincingly adolescent outlook. Excerpts from sermons, FBI files, camp schedules, and e-mails keep the story lively and suspenseful, as the Believers begin to stockpile weapons and the media adds fuel to the flames. But perhaps more resonant than the apocalyptic ending are the careful, distinct portraits of the two teens, thrust into a frightening situation that shuttles them suddenly into adulthood. (Ages 12 to 16) --Brangien Davis