"See You When the World Ends" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Not a Pipe Publishing
Written by Simon Paul Wilson
2021, 138 pages, Fiction
Released on 3rd August 2021
I sped through all 138 pages of Simon Paul Wilson’s See You When the World Ends in two quick sittings and could easily have hoovered it up in one greedy splurge. The Kindle version of the book ended at a lowly 75%, with the outstanding 25% being adverts; this is a shame, as I would have much preferred to spend the remainder with the main characters, Tim and Naomi. If you are after a brief and entertaining read to sandwich between something more substantial, then See You When the World Ends is well worth a two-hour investment of your time.
The catchy title is framed around a recurring conversation the two central characters have, especially after a few drinks, “What would you do if the world was going to end?” Their answers invariably involve sex. However, the story does not go apocalyptical, far from it, and is at its strongest when it focuses on the complex and engaging friendship between Tim and the enigmatic Naomi Wong.
Tim narrates the story in the first person and is in love with Naomi. Everybody realises this apart from Tim, who has buried his feelings so deeply, he has convinced himself that any move on the Chinese beauty will lead to rejection, inevitably ruining his best ever friendship. Tim buys books chosen by Naomi, listens to music recommended by her and thinks about the young woman all the time. The friendship/relationship is a very important part of the novella and is both convincing and nicely pitched. Tim is a nice guy and readers will really want him to score with the gorgeous Naomi.
For significant chunks of the story, you might forget this is a supernatural yarn which slowly builds up in the second half. To avoid spoilers, I am going to skimp on the details, but expect events to take a very strange turn when Naomi heads to Hong Kong for her sister’s wedding, leaving poor lonely Tim pining for an email or phone call. Much as I enjoyed the novellas as a whole, the relationship part of the story is probably more convincing than the supernatural angle, which is slightly undercooked. A longer page length might have explored the dream element in the more detail it undoubtedly deserves.
Tim buys a book called ‘Goodbye to Bad Dreams’ and before long we are into the world of recurring dreams, nightmares, ghostly apparitions which appear when he is awake and a nagging feeling that something is just not right or is forgetting something very important. Tim looks to the dream book for answers and soon things get worse with hauntings infiltrating his waking world.
See You When the World Ends is written in such an easy-going manner it never truly gets very frightening, lacks scares, and is relatively easy to see the direction the plot heads into. It also has an entertaining British sense of humour with the rather work-shy Tim preferring to lounge around at home, but still finding the time to meet old friend Rob for drinks and a drunken curry. Very British! Rob is a very funny sidekick and would not have been out of place in the classic comedy Shaun of the Dead, who works in a coffee shop and eventually helps Tim find a job there. I just loved the way he nonchalantly accepts the weirdest goings-on with the casual “You need a drink mate” mentality of the English.
Considering Simon Paul Wilson makes great effort, and does it very successfully, in fleshing out Tim, Naomi and Rob, I was surprised that the supernatural element is in comparison so vague and the connections made to the dream book ‘Goodbye to Bad Dreams’ just too convenient. However, this is a minor quibble and I’m sure this novella will have many older male readers nostalgically thinking of their own version of Naomi Wong from their twenties pomp!
See You When the World Ends does not break any boundaries and is not anything new, but is still a very solid diversion for a couple of hours. And if the world was just about to end (Tim is right), Naomi would be a pretty cool woman to spend the last few hours with.
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