“I Hope You Get This Message” by Farah Naz Rishi is a high concept young adult novel that has been set to hit the bookstores on 22nd Oct. Being Rishi’s debut novel, it is a captivating story about a number of modern issues, including greed, personal identity, mental health and hope. Despite it being a seemingly simple story about an adventurous group of teenagers, beneath the layer of modern pop-culture references, therein lies a complex work of fiction that shows that young adults experience similar feelings and emotions like older generations do.
The novel follows three teenagers — Jesse, Cate and Adeem — who are striving to save the world around them from crumbling apart, especially now that they have been met with the news of the nearing apocalypse. As they travel across America to search for their own piece of hope, they find themselves strung together by a series of fateful coincidences: ones that will cause them to stick together through the end of the world.
“I Hope You Get This Message” is a skillfully-written novel, which deals with difficult topics, such as loss, mental illness and hope through a more simplified lens. It brings the worries of each teenager to the forefront: for Jesse, it is saving him and his mom from going evicted, Cate would like to find her father and Adeem — his sister. They are all united by their hopefulness, as they attempt to seize the day. Placed in a world which is so close to its end, they are urged to do what they have waited all their lives to do.
The language is quite simple and perfect for the likes of young adults. With a number of references to modern pop-culture, like memes, modern humor or social media, it is a novel that is extremely relevant to modern times — not only in references, but also in its themes. Just like the characters attempt to sieze the last bits of hope they have left, the reader is also encouraged to do so. While the manner in which they do so is not always acceptable, for example Jesse’s way to earn money to avoid getting evicted, the growth of the characters show how they change and learn to find better ways to cope.
However, it is not only hope that the novel strives to convey, but also the significance in communication in the modern world. Considering the title, it is a perfect summary for the whole novel: how this lack of connection, be it physical or emotional can lead to negative consequences. Although there is a number of instances, where this could most prominently be seen, one of the most striking examples is Adeem’s physical and emotional disconnection from his sister. As the characters struggle to even find a working payphone in their crumbling world, the reader is left thinking about how easy it is for us to contact someone… And how we often take this for granted.
The pacing of the novel is just right: it is one that captures the reader’s attention right from the beginning and does not let go until the very end, as the reader is urged to embark with Cate and Adeem on their journey to Roswell. It is a novel that thoroughly focuses on developing its characters and their progression from the beginning to the end of the novel. Each of the characters is given enough attention for the reader to sympathize with. Despite their differences, Rishi manages to convey their struggles and their emotions in a way that makes them relatable — like Cate’s bucket list, where one of the tasks is to kiss someone “for real” .
What is more is that “I Hope You Get This Message” is not a pure work of science fiction: the reader is never explained who the beings from Alma are. They remain distant and abstract throughout the whole novel, with only a few hints about their motives seen in the transcriptions from their trials, sprinkled between several chapters. It is never described how they look and so they remain these mysterious creatures who have decided the world’s fate — could it be an allegory for the modern political world? And the three heroes, as well as other people, are mere victims to the situation.
The end of the world is not a new notion in YA novels. However, Rishi manages to infuse it with a number of significant themes and issues, which make it stand out from the heaps of others. Not only is it a novel that is captivating, but one that is beautiful in the meanings that it transmits.
Order “I Hope You Get This Message” here
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