Book Review: A Hero at the End of the World

(Originally published online the University of Florida Honors Magazine, PRISM on Dec. 17th, 2014)

From the recently founded independent publishing company Big Bang Press comes a new, half-satirical, half-adventure young adult novel written by Erin Claiborne, A Hero at the End of the World.

Big Bang Press has drawn attention in the literary world with its unusual origins. The press was founded using the online fundraising website Kickstarter. Big Bang differs from a lot of well-known publishing companies; their goal is to introduce fanfiction culture’s best writers to a wider reading audience by seeking out original novels from talented authors who already boast wide followings in the fanfiction community.

Fanfiction is a huge part of fandom culture, with new stories and perspectives on already existing characters and worlds lovingly penned every day by fans fascinated by and appreciative of novels, fantasy series, comics, movies, and television shows. As a way to connect more to the stories they know and love, fanfiction authors and readers have built a strong foundation of love and support for actors, authors, and other creative individuals.

Although not without its faults, fanfiction culture has only grown in recent years with the expansion of internet culture. Many current authors of young adult books today, such as Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth, started to create original novels and series by first trying their hand at fanfiction. By recognizing the efforts and talent for writing inherent in the fandom community, Big Bang Press is challenging traditional publishing models, helping to redefine the outdated opinions that still shroud fanfiction writers in negativity, and embracing a new appreciation for the fanfiction community. Plus, their new young adult book is really good!

In A Hero at the End of the World, the reader is introduced to a world almost entirely like our own, but with a few very important differences. Set in the urban sprawl of London, this version of the United Kingdom comes with inherent magical powers, prophecies, world-dimension hopping, a scattering of romance, and some well-placed barbs of humor.

In the story, readers follow the adventure of Ewan Mao, a boy who was prophesized as the one who would vanquish the UK’s own resident evil magician, Duff Slan. There is just one problem; on the day of the appointed vanquishing, Ewan’s childhood friend Oliver Abrams just happened to get there first, and did the job for him. Now, Ewan has broken off his friendship with the world-famous Oliver, is known only as a mere footnote in the whole debacle, and works a dead-end job at a coffee shop a few years later, mostly forgotten by history and bemoaning his missed destiny.

That’s when the real story begins, but I won’t spoil it for you…

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