Agnes at the End of the World

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?


Reviewed: 2020-07-02

This book was really good, and accidentally really timely. The main character Agnes lives in a religious cult called Red Creek. She tries to fit in, but rebels by getting needed insulin for her younger brother. Additionally, she seems to have a special ability. Agnes calls it the 'prayer space' and it is when she is able to hear the world around her in a way no one else can. This prayer space comes in handy when a mysterious virus hits the world outside Red Creek, as it seems to scare away infected creatures.

I'm not usually a fan of books with overt religious content, but this book managed to make it compelling without being overbearing. Agnes, even outside of Red Creek, is highly religious. She has a strong faith and that is a large part of her character. On the other hand, her sister Beth is less religious, and the character Agnes likes, Danny, is atheist. The book doesn't depict religion as the end all be all, but instead as a way to interpret the world. Religion is how Agnes explains her experiences. But if Danny experienced them, he'd likely find an equally valid scientific answer. The book shows religion as one of many worldview, and I appreciate how it depicts religion/god the connectedness of beings, the earth, and life. It takes a very different view towards religion than other books I've read.

All that said, Agnes at the End of the World is just a really good book. I read it in an evening, after a pretty long YA reading drought. I definitely recommend it!

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@dwager completed #agnesattheendoft... on 2020-09-02
@dwager began #agnesattheendoft... on 2020-08-18