Here is a list of two things that go together:
Macaroni and Cheese
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Bacon and Eggs
Pros and Cons
Coffee and Me
Cults and pandemics
Welcome to my review of AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD. In other words, a review of one of the best books I’ve read in 2020 or, like, ever.
Agnes and her siblings live in Red Creek, a fundamentalist cult ruled by their Prophet and the Patriarchs. In order to keep her diabetic brother alive, Agnes sneaks out to get insulin from the “outsiders”, or people who live out in the real world of sin. It’s there that she first learns of a pandemic going on outside her community. Privy to this, Red Creek’s Prophet prepares to order his people into an underground bunker to escape the apocalypse (aka, drinking the Kool-aid). Agnes, seeing this as certain for her sick brother, plans to escape, taking her chances on a world-wide pandemic than let her brother die a slow death without his medicine.
AGNES is told in a split POV narrative. Sisters Agnes and Beth are on their own paths of accepting the truths about Red Creek’s past and it’s inevitable end. Both have their own core beliefs and their own strengths that guide them through breaking free of what they were raised to become. It was hard reading about the situations the women in Red Creek endured. There were a lot of Handmaid’s Tale, The Grace Year, etc themes in this book. My blood was boiling and I was screaming in FEMINIST. But I digress…
I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into (I hardly read reviews at all until I’ve read the book in its entirety) and this book took some turns I did not expect. The virus described in the book mirrored what we’re going through right now, without the nesting thing and a few other things…ok it’s not the same, but I felt for the Outsiders. It was startlingly real and terrifying, what a pandemic can do.
This novel was part Branch Davidians, part all the pandemic books you can imagine but throw in some Clive Barker and Margaret Atwood, a great diabetic rep, strong females, kind boys (I’m looking at you Danny and Cory. Let’s talk about Cory for a split second. That character arc though) and you have a recipe for perfection.
I loved this book from start to satisfying finish.
Read if: you love cults and dystopian societies. Don’t read: if you don’t like Christian themes.