Mix Tape for the End of the World

Young Adult - Coming of Age
288 Pages
Reviewed on 06/05/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Andrew J. Brandt's Mix Tape for the End of the World is a coming-of-age tale about growing up and finding friends and first love. Derrick Townsend is a high school sophomore who's trying to get accustomed to the town of Mount Vernon and his new school after his family's relocation from Stillwater. A fan of Seattle's early '90s era grunge rock scene, Derrick feels overjoyed when his soon-to-be stepfather Doug Davis gifts him a Fender Telecaster. Meanwhile, Derrick develops a crush on his next-door neighbor and captain of his school's tennis team, Haley Swanson. After striking up a friendship with classmate AJ, the two of them soon start a rock band by the name of Stealth in Derrick's garage in the hopes of winning the school talent show.

Filled with nostalgia and heart, Mix Tape for the End of the World takes you back through the years to a time of wonder and dreams. Andrew J. Brandt's heartwarming tale is about growing up, forming friendships, and discovering first love in your teenage years that you can't help but reminiscence about. The characters feel well fleshed-out and easy to relate to, which makes them absorbing to read. I enjoyed them all but found Derrick, AJ, and Haley to be my personal favorites of the bunch. The pacing of the plot suits the slice-of-life style narrative of the story. I immensely enjoyed Mix Tape for the End of the World. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories about growing up.

Divine Zape

Mix Tape for the End of the World by Andrew J. Brandt is a fascinating young adult novel that captures the fever of the year 1999 with the anticipated end times that never happened. It is the story of how a young boy finds his foothold in a world he thinks is going to end. When the story starts, Derrick Townsend is moving to Mount Vernon with his family, and it is a week before his sophomore year. The everyday news is inundated with talks of the coming aftermath of something called Y2K and the rumors have it that the world will end at exactly 11:59 pm in December of 1999. While he was sad about not witnessing this important event with his friends, a strong bond quickly develops between him and AJ Tooley in his new school, and the two decide to start a band to play at the Mount Vernon High School Annual Talent. Follow their journey which involves falling in love, a deepening friendship, and the show. At the heart of it all is the question: What is most important—treasuring the moments we have with friends or being worried about an apocalypse happening in the near future?

Mix Tape for the End of the World is a heartwarming story that explores young hearts in a skillful manner. The anxiety that the young protagonist feels when moving to a new town is understandable. I enjoyed how Andrew J. Brandt writes about change and how it affects the characters, especially moving from one place to another and starting afresh, an experience that Haley will have when her parents face divorce. The theme of friendship is predominantly written and it becomes a space in which the young characters explore themselves and grow. The story is filled with wonderful, emotionally strong, and captivating moments like when Haley kisses Derrick as the moment they expect the world to blow up and it does not, and when Derrick and his friends wait anxiously for the winner of the show to be announced. Mix Tape for the End of the World is a novel with a galvanizing message about the importance of friendship and hope; it shines a spotlight on the struggles that young adults face and their questions. The elaborately developed characters ― including Doug, Derrick’s mother’s fiancé ― and the beautiful writing create an unforgettable reading experience.

Jose Cornelio

Mix Tape for the End of the World by Andrew J. Brandt is a gripping story that will appeal to readers who enjoy music and strong characters. Derrick Townsend believes, like most people, that the world will end on December 31, 1999, at exactly 11.59 pm. It is in the news and everyone is anticipating it. While he'd love to witness this event in the company of friends, his family is moving to Mount Vernon just a week before the start of his sophomore year; so much to trouble the young protagonist. But at his new school, he strikes up a friendship with A.J. Tooley with whom he shares a passion for music, and they decide to participate in the school talent show. While preparing for the ultimate musical showdown, he is fascinated by the girl next door. Can he and his friend win the show and will he live through the apocalyptic event with the girl he loves deeply?

This is a great story with a premise that readers can relate to and I loved it because it is something I witnessed. As I read the book, I could remember the buzz that built around the End-Times and fanatical Christians looking forward to the second coming of Jesus. Andrew J. Brandt takes this event and weaves a heartwarming story about being young and the questions that young people grappled with. Themes of family and friendship and love are terrifically developed while the book evokes nostalgia for the 1990s pop culture. The writing is atmospheric and fans of movies with musical themes will adore this story. Derrick Townsend and A.J. Tooley are great, elaborately developed characters, and Haley comes in to sweeten the charm. Mix Tape for the End of the World is well-plotted; the characters are lovable and I found myself wanting the protagonist to win the show. But the twist comes with lessons and the truth that we find answers in places we never expected to find them and in ways we never might have thought about.