Title: No Parking at the End Times
Author: Bryan Bliss
Release Date: 2/24/15
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Cult books are one of my favorite types of books. I have no idea why, but there’s something about a family joining a cult or leaving a cult or crazy religious people that just does something for me. If you want to read a great book about kids whose family joins a cult you need to read This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready. If you want to read a perfectly entertaining, but not particularly special book about a kids whose family joins a cult then read No Parking at the End Times.
Now maybe that sounds like an insult, I know, but I really don’t mean it that way. The story of Abigail and Aaron and their parents was certainly entertaining and interesting, but there was just nothing there to really draw me in or make me feel really involved in their story. A huge hump for my getting into the story was actually something really small. The main character’s name is Abigail, but at the beginning of the story we never really learn her name. Her brother calls her “Abs” and her dad calls her “Gabs” so at first I thought her name might be Gabrielle or something, but eventually one of her parents calls her Abigail and that answered my question, but it was still never really explained and that stopped me from feeling like I really knew her.
Anyway, after Abigail’s dad loses his job and the family finds themselves down on their luck her parents, who have always been religious, but in a middle of the road kind of way, start following a guy named Brother John who’s one of those preachers who puts up billboards and has a radio show saying the world is going to end on a specific day. The story starts right after that day when, surprise surprise, the world doesn’t end! Abigail is torn between wanting her old life back, her parents moved her and her twin brother Aaron out to San Francisco from North Carolina to be with Brother John and they live in their family’s van, and wanting to remain true to her parents who she loves. Her brother Aaron on the other hand just wants his old life back and thinks their parents have gone completely nuts and that him and Abigail need to get themselves out the situation.
There were good parts of this book, but ultimately it just didn’t go far enough. Her and her family live in their van and we learn some things about it, like where they eat or how they have to move it all the time because of parking restrictions, but we don’t know where they go to the bathroom or shower and they literally seem to spend their entire day just sitting in the van. And why does Abigail only have one pair of pants? As the story goes on Abigail goes exploring around San Francisco and given that the family is living in their van on the streets you would think San Francisco would be a bigger part of the story, but I didn’t have any feeling for the city overall and it was almost like the story could have taken place anywhere. We know know virtually nothing about Brother John’s cult: how many people were in it? Other than the world ending what did they believe?
Much of the story also felt stagnant, which is weird because we’re obviously weren’t being bogged down in the details. For maybe the first 60% it’s not really clear what’s going to happen and Abigail isn’t doing anything to change her situation. When it got closer to the end and the action picked up and there were more characters the story became much more interesting. At times it leaned towards the more dramatic side, but it was still much more of an exciting story that had me turning the pages than at the beginning of the book.
Bottom Line: Even though I have quite a bit of criticism about the pacing and the lack of details I still enjoyed No Parking at the End Times and I would certainly give another Bryan Bliss book a read. Minus the pacing issue the writing is there and the situation and characters he created were interesting.
I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.