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Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday

Review

Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday

Abdi is wandering around the streets of Sangui City, Somalia, confused and lost. Some of his fingers are missing from his right hand, lost after a terrorist attack gone wrong. When a rough encounter with a police officer leads him to a friendly United Nations (UN) worker, however, Abdi finally has a chance to redeem himself for the actions of his past. A former terrorist, Abdi once served the radical jihadist group Al Shabab, under the duress of U.S. government officials threatening his family. The goal? To become a spy and discover Al Shabab’s next plan of attack and gain information. Learning to be a soldier and witnessing one harrowing atrocity after another, Abdi grows into an integral member of the group, all while trying to get close to his brother, Dahir, a commanding soldier who will do whatever it takes to further the cause. Even after the traumatizing mission that cost him his fingers, Abdi’s past still comes back to haunt him, and when Al Shabab launches a massive attack, Abdi must decide whether or not to save the ones he loves or save himself and his future.

"LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY is an awesome book that discusses rough subjects with a sense of formality and honesty...to fans of fast-paced thrillers...I cannot recommend this book enough."

LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY is not the first book Natalie Anderson has written, nor is it her first that focuses on the not-so-common massive struggles people must undertake for a better life. The author of CITY OF SAINTS OF THIEVES, Anderson writes well thought out books that deal with the issues people in impoverished countries may face, all backed by her experience as a UN social worker. LET'S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY is no different. At the core of the story, I believe the book is asking you one thing: How much would you be willing to do, or lose, to protect the ones you care about?

There are a lot of things that LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY does right. One thing is the exemplary description of Somalia and its various cities, notably Mogadishu and Sangui City. As someone who’s not well informed of the real environment and culture that surrounds those areas, I was taken back and engrossed by the dialogue and action of ordinary citizens, and the book does a good job of keeping me engaged in the reading. I found myself grinning when Abdi and his brother had a typical sibling altercation, or frowning when Abdi underwent internal panic on his first real mission. The dialogue served the story very well and helped create realistic characters that I found myself worried about or happy for, as the main characters of our novel --- mostly teenagers being forced into harsh circumstances --- still tended to act and joke as their age would imply. I can almost see their playful interactions being carried out here in my neighborhood. Almost.

The themes of the novel, most importantly its ideas about redemption and forgiveness, are also well explored as the events of the book unfold, and it gave me an interesting insight into these concepts I haven’t thought of as much in the past. Lastly, clocking in at a length of 464 pages, LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY is a medium edging on long novel, although the writing is smooth (and engaging) enough that it goes by rather quickly. All of this being said, I do have a few critiques for the novel. There were a few occasions where I felt the dialogue seemed a bit awkward and unrealistic. Also, I found myself wishing to know what happened to other secondary characters in the novel after certain events occurred. I suppose that “wanting for more” is a good indication of being enthralled by a good book.

LET’S GO SWIMMING ON DOOMSDAY is an awesome book that discusses rough subjects with a sense of formality and honesty, and to fans of fast-paced thrillers and action novels such as the similar A LONG WAY GONE, I cannot recommend this book enough.

Reviewed by Timothy R., Teen Board Member on January 15, 2019

Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
by Natalie C. Anderson