What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do?
Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says.
After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking.
Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.
There’s something oddly comforting about picking up an Aussie YA novel after reading books from around the globe for a while. Whether it’s because I know we have so many talented authors in Australia and the book I’m about to read will almost definitely make me fall in love with it, or that I like the ease of being able to sink in to the familiar landscape and slang of this country, or maybe a bit of both, I always love picking up another #LoveOzYA book. Nevertheless, All This Could End definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact, I devoured this book in one sitting and it’s honestly one of my favourite Aussie YA books of all time now. I don’t know why I didn’t read this one earlier!
Just from the premise, I could tell this book was going to take me on one heck of a rollercoaster ride. I mean, the protagonist’s parents rob banks! While that does sound a little ridiculous and it definitely could have come across as fake or unbelievable by other authors, Steph Bowe does a fantastic job of creating unique and impressionable characters with complicated lives and intricate backstories that make these people leap right off the pages. The stunningly well-written characters are truly what makes All This Could End an absolute masterpiece.
Set on the north-east coast of Australia, the narrative revolves around sixteen year-old Nina Pretty — a girl with bank-robbing parents who’s forced to follow in their path, but wants nothing more to turn eighteen so she can escape this existence of life on the run, forever planning their next robbery. Right from the very beginning, I forged such a deep connection with Nina because of her unique voice and because she was simply so different from any other YA protagonist I’ve read about recently — she just wanted an ordinary life. I loved seeing her transform from an almost-timid girl that was afraid to stand up to her parents into a brave, strong young women who came to understand that what she wants for her life matters.
One of the things that’s often missing from YA novels are the parents of the protagonist, so I was pleased to find that Nina’s parents played such a major role in the narrative. They weren’t just there for a plot device or to show how crazy Nina’s life was because they made her rob banks with them, but they were a massive part of her life and we were able to see them as people, not just criminals. It was interesting to see how they justified the life they lead and how they managed to convince Nina, and her younger brother, to join them. The family dynamics were superbly written and I found myself thoroughly immersed in Nina’s life, both when she was at school and at home.
While I adored getting to know Nina, there was another character I loved even more — Spencer. Shy, quiet, and never finding the right words to say what he truly meant, Spencer should have been a cliché. However, Steph Bowe managed to create such a believable, realistic character that I absolutely fell in love with, and I completely adored the scenes shared between him and Nina. Told from dual POV, it was pretty obvious where this book would end up, but even suspecting the result of the romantic interest couldn’t stop me from ogling this book with heart-eyes. Their relationship was sweet, but it also prompted deeper conversations about things like the meaning of life and what it means to be an individual. And I loved Spencer’s knowledge of strange words and facts!
Ultimately, All This Could End is a stunning novel about secrets, family, and standing up to even those we love. If you’re looking for another brilliant #LoveOzYA novel to devour, I can’t recommend this book enough! I’m super excited about Steph’s new novel, Night Swimming, which will be released soon!
Have you read All This Could End, or any of Steph Bowe’s other novels? If you had to recommend just one #LoveOzYA book, which one would it be? If you’re an international reader, how many Aussie YA novels do you read? Are there any YA books written specifically about where you live or that you relate to that I should pick up? Let me know down below!
Thanks to Text Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!