In 'The End is Near', the reader is tossed back and forth between Nathan Huffnagle's hospital bed and his suicide journal. That's right - suicide journal. You see, Nathan had too much to say to just leave a note. Sadly for Nathan, the whole suicide thing didn't really go so well.
In the first line, we are told "The first Angel of Death came to me on my seventh day here." I have to say, the Angels of Death were my favorite characters in the novel. I loved their down to earth attitude and the comic relief they brought to the story.
Harry Ramble's writing style in this book, is straight forward and liberally sprinkled with sarcastic humour and irony. In fact, even when something goes right for Nathan, it still manages, somehow, to go wrong. The poor guy!
It was refreshingly different the way Mr. Ramble managed to make the reader a participating character in the book. I relished my role and it drew me more personally into the story.
'The End is Near' held one big negative for me. (and really this is a testament to the author's ability with descriptive narrative). I have huge issues with "man's inhumanity to man" as a theme. As such, the extraordinarily well written bullying scenes literally made me sick to my stomach. Don't, necessarily, let this turn you off the book. I felt the same way about 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini and often can't watch the evening news for the same reason.
The end of the novel was both a surprise and totally consistent with the story. I always try to guess the ending as I read and have to confess I was way off base with my guess this time. Hence the surprise. The irony of the ending, however, meshed well with the rest of the narrative.
I didn't grow to like Nathan or his nemesis, Randy, very much but, for the most part, I enjoyed reading their story.