Book Review: How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff

December 5, 2020 in Young Adult

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Life has been pretty complicated lately which has had a knock on effect on my reading. I’m very much in a slump. (It sucks.) So yes, it has been a while since my last book review but fear not because I’ve finally got a new one for you. And today I’ll be talking about How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff. So let’s get straight into it, shall we?

Many thanks to Harper360 UK for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

How To Pack For The End Of The World
By Michelle Falkoff

Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Publication: 10th November 2020
Genre: YA
Format: Paperback (310 pages)
Rating: ★★★



A group of teens at a boarding school who are concerned with the current state of the world compete in survivalist-inspired games. But sometimes just your regular teenage drama feels like the end of the world.


Content Warnings

references to antisemitism and racism
sexual abuse
alcohol and drug use
off the page sex
parental grief

My Review

This is not in any way an apocalyptic story. Don’t let the title deceive you! It’s actually a coming-of-age story about friendship and belonging while also dealing with a multitude of social issues such as climate change and fascism. Since it’s character driven, it is quite a slow burner but I did still enjoy it. Just not as much as I’d hoped to.

Still, there were a lot of things that I loved about How to Pack for the End of the World. First of all, I really warmed to Amina. I could identify with how current events can trigger severe anxiety and how isolating that can be when other people seem to deal with those same events differently. It’s not something I’d seen in fiction before and since it’s a lived experience for me, I thought it was incredibly relatable.

There’s also a lot of diversity within the group. Not just in regards to gender, race and sexuality but also attitudes to religion, class and upbringing. I also loved that there was ace and anxiety representation!

One more thing that I enjoyed was the romantic subplot between two of the characters. It was very PG – sweet and wholesome! (Exactly the way I like it!)

While I enjoyed a lot about the book, I wasn’t entirely sold on the plot. I felt like it was trying to be a lot of things at the same time and the plot itself wasn’t clear until much later than I would have liked. The ending also felt quite abrupt but definitely gave me The Breakfast Club feels. So ultimately, I liked it but I didn’t love it.


  • Diverse characters
  • Lots of social themes including climate change, fascism and racism
  • Features a series of “games” around the idea of surviving the apocalypse in its many possible forms

Read This If…

  • You like slow burn character driven fiction
  • The end of the world both scares you and fascinates you in equal measure

If my review of How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff has piqued your interest, please do go and check it out. It’s available now from all good book retailers!

What would you pack for the end of the world? Let me know in the comments below!


  • Stephanie @ Bookfever December 5, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    The Breakfast Club feels? Oh yes. I don’t need to know any more! 😀

    • Hayley December 7, 2020 at 4:20 pm

      Definitely worth reading for that aspect alone!

  • Lindsey December 7, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Lovely review! This sounds like a well-rounded read as long as you don’t set your expectations too high? And I feel you so much with the reading slump, I’m trying to drag myself out of one at the moment! Good luck!

    • Hayley December 7, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      I think that’s EXACTLY it. I didn’t love it but I didn’t dislike it either and I think that was largely just down to my own assumptions about the book. Thanks Lindsey, hope you manage to get out of your slump too!

  • Jen December 7, 2020 at 9:08 am

    This seems to cover a lot of hard topics for a YA novel, which is great and definitely needed in my opinion.
    Great review!

    • Hayley December 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      I completely agree Jen! It was outstanding in that respect. 🙂

  • Fadima Mooneira December 7, 2020 at 11:27 am

    This book sounds like a good read. It also sounds like my kinda book too. Will check this out. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hayley December 7, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      That’s amazing to hear, hope you enjoy it Fadima! 🙂

  • Jenny in Neverland December 7, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    I do really like the sound of this despite your 3 stars! I like character driven books and slow pacing doesn’t always bother me. Definitely thought this was a literal end of the world book though! Great review 🙂 x

    • Hayley December 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Haha it’s okay, 3 stars to me means I liked it/good sort of average rating. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it Jenny! x

  • Jaya Avendel December 7, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    I love the title of this book as well as the humorous, light-hearted voice you hint the author has. I can connect with teen drama sometimes feeling like the end of the world, along with a lot of other drama but, if the world was really ending, I do not know what I would pack. Would it even matter?

    Love that this post inspires me to think on it! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Hayley December 8, 2020 at 1:45 pm

      What you pack could be the difference between surviving and not surviving, Jaya! 😛 Definitely something to think about, haha.

  • Stephanie December 7, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    From the title, I assumed that it was an apocalyptic story, for sure. I’m glad you immediately specified that it was not! I really liked how in-depth and honest your review was. While you didn’t care for some of it, you highlighted what you DID like, creating a positive vibe, overall. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hayley December 8, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you so much Stephanie! 🙂

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