Mickey Bauermann is an average teenager growing up in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec in the 1980's and 1990's when Hope Randall walks into his life. Hope and her mother Ann descend from a long line apocalypse predictors, all of whom when wrong, go crazy. Hope and Ann flee Nova Scotia to escape Ann's prediction, only to have their car break down in Riviere-du-Loup which they decide is a good place to start over.
Mickey and Hope spend their days either at school, working or holed up in his basement watching television. Until Hope receives her apocalyptic vision and soon finds herself on a journey around the world to discover the reason behind the date she has been given.
Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicolas Dickner (winner of Canada Reads for Nikolski) is a quirky and thought-provoking novel that challenges readers to take a look at themselves and the world around them. Hope's obsession with the forthcoming apocalypse is, in some way, in all of us. Set in a recent period of instability (the 1990's) the book shines a light on the way the media, especially television, has brought a heightened sense of paranoia into our homes.
Dickner is a fantastic writer (and Lazar Lederhendler is a fantastic translator as this novel was not written originally in English) and the book and its premise draws the reader right in. However, I do feel that the book began to lose its steam in the second half and I found myself disappointed with the ending. Though as I look back on it now, I assume maybe that was the point, not to disappoint me but rather to illustrate the nature of our world. This is definitely a book that has left me thinking about it well after I turned the final page.