The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee
An e-galley was provided by Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Slater, Kansas is a small town where not much seems to happen.
Stella dreams of being a space engineer. After Stella's mom dies by suicide and her brother runs off to Red Sun, the local hippie commune, Stella is forced to bring her dreams down to Earth to care for her sister Jill.
Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun. There, people accept his tics, his Tourette's. But when he’s denied Red Sun's resident artist role he believed he was destined for, he starts to imagine a life beyond the gates of the compound...
The day Stella and Galliard meet, there is something in the air in their small town. Literally. So begins weeks of pink lightning, blood red rain, unexplained storms... And a countdown clock appears mysteriously above the town hall. With time ticking down to some great, unknowable end they’ll each have to make a choice.
If this is really the end of the world, who do they want to be when they face it?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm having trouble quantifying this book as easily as I do some others I've read and reviewed. It was by no means a terrible book; it was just...a little too weird for my tastes. It's sort of like historical fiction meets fabulism/speculative fiction.
So, pros: I really liked that Galliard has Tourette's because that's not something you see portrayed often in fiction. I can't speak to if it was written accurately and respectfully, but it seemed that way to me? I liked the small town setting and how that came across well. And I liked that the teenagers got to feel a range of emotions, and no one ever told Stella she couldn't be an engineer. She was the only person really getting in the way of her dreams, because her dad was supportive and tried to be a dad even if he hadn't been the most present parent the last several years. Lots of 70s pop culture, which could be a plus or minus, depending on how you feel about the 70s.
Cons: I never really connected with either narrating main character, which is a big deal for me when I read a book. Their narrative voices also sounded relatively the same. Phoenix pissed me off so much, like a ridiculous amount. Archer and Kim could've been interesting side characters, but they felt underdeveloped. The fabulism got just a little too weird for me. Some people may really like that, though, so I think this might be a case of "it's not you; it's me." Also, spoiler alert, the countdown thing kind of just went nowhere? Which felt so wrong. When it started, it felt a bit more like horror material than fabulism, so that definitely threw me.
Content warnings: a lot of foul language, drug use (mainly marijuana)
The Verdict: If you really like Stranger Things or magical realism, you might like The Great Unknowable End.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Unfortunately, no.