A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Eleanor knows a lot about survivalist strategies, and she teaches what she knows to her friends in a club that she creates. Information about past asteroid impacts, dinosaur extinction theories, the Earth's atmosphere, and the environment. Section in the back with resources about asteroids, impact statistics, survival and readiness, internet resources, and internet safety.
Making friends can be hard, but people can surprise you. Even if parents don't always know what's wrong, their support can be helpful. Making mistakes might feel like the end of the world, but things do get better. If things don't improve in your life, tell someone so you can get help. Friends can stay in touch even if they move on. People can disagree and still love each other. Internet safety is important for kids. Once you give a person the information and tools that they need, you have to let them choose what to do next.
Positive Role Models
Adults have an interest in supporting kids in this story, but they also know that kids need to learn their own lessons. Mack and Eleanor have a tight bond. Eleanor helps Mack physically navigate the world, but she respects his desire to take risks like scaling a climbing wall at a climbing gym. Mack sticks with his best friend even when the entire school turns against her.
Violence & Scariness
Eleanor's mother has died (not part of the story's action). The story's end-of-the-world elements could be frightening to sensitive readers. A detailed description of presumed life after an asteroid impact includes "lawlessness, disease, filth and constant fear." A character gives a girl an "I-want-to-punch-you-in-the-throat-look." A character breaks a girl's nose with a basketball, though it's unclear whether it was done on purpose. It's said that guns and ammo are part of survival, though the adults are supposed to be in charge of that in a survival scenario.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Characters talk about cuss words. "It was the f-word." "Crap."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Many brands are mentioned. Netflix, iPad, Walmart, McDonald's, Harvard, Marvel, Mentos, Krispy Kreme, Chromebooks, YouTube, Wikipedia, Fluff, Rice Krispies, Brownies/Girl Scouts, Amazon, eBay, Siri, Pokemon, Coke, NBA, Stanley Cup, Klondike, SweeTarts, Milk Duds, M & M's, Skittles, Oreos, Fiat, XBox.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the focus of The World Ends in April is preparing for the end of the world. A scientist has predicted that an asteroid will hit Earth, and kids react to this news, ramping up preparedness. Twelve-year-old Eleanor contacts the scientist, a stranger, via email, and he communicates back, even though her widower dad doesn't allow it. Eleanor's Grandpa Joe conducts drills for survivalists, such as testing her "BOB" (bug-out bag) to see whether it's filled with necessities for surviving the apocalypse. Eleanor's fervent beliefs cause her to do things she normally wouldn't, and she gets suspended from school because of her actions. The end of the world as we know it (called TEOTWAWKI) is explored in a mocked-up timeline of destruction, which includes people dying from disease, robbery, guns, and lack of food and structure. Kids in the story take this potential threat seriously and react in various ways to the end of the world; the subject matter may be upsetting for younger or more sensitive readers.
Is It Any Good?
Funny, well-paced, and at times sad, this doomsday story will appeal to media-savvy kids who see how internet trends affect their social scene. But instead of gossip spreading by means of Snapchat or Insta, in The World Ends in April, the story that rocks Eleanor's middle school is about an asteroid predicted to make impact in a few months' time. Kids will appreciate McAnulty's humor -- i.e. Mack names his cane "Candy," and Eleanor's blue-dyed haircut makes her look like a "sad mushroom." That said, some of the hard-line disaster-prepping content could be a little frightening for sensitive readers, because it really feels like the end of the line.
A parallel that isn't drawn in the book is that Eleanor's real grief and feelings of desperation may have to do with the loss of her mother, who's never really mentioned. This might be a missed opportunity to explore an obvious topic. But Eleanor's grit, her desire to survive, her dad's tender helplessness, and the lovely friendship she has with Mack, make this story an enjoyable read -- with some end-times food-for-thought to keep it real.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Best Book Series for Tweens
Books to Help Your Kid Survive Middle School
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate