Empty World

144 pages

Published Dec. 27, 1995 by Puffin Books.

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3 stars (1 review)

3 editions

Definitely not a "cosy catastrophe"

3 stars

The dawning awareness of your own mortality is a common theme in young adult fiction, often paired with a sexual awakening. You get both here, but mostly, it's the death.

There's been a plague of books and shows about plagues lately. This one from 1977 distinguishes itself by depicting a plague of premature ageing. Suddenly the inevitable end comes hurtling towards the whole human race at super speed, and even toddlers suddenly become gnarled, wrinkled and senile, then die quietly in their sleep.

YA fiction became bolder and more explicit about sex and death around the time this book was written, and there's plenty of shocking confrontation here to have it banned by squeamish or rabidly zealous US school boards. The very bits they would no doubt object to are the best parts of this book.

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