Book Reviews

Review: The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

The Great Unknowable End is a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat from early on. While this is very much a story about two teens, the ways in which their lives interact, and their town, there’s this tension you can sense from early on. It permeates the book and it only increases as the book goes on.


Slater, Kansas is a small town where not much seems to happen.

Stella dreams of being a space engineer. After Stella’s mom dies by suicide and her brother runs off to Red Sun, the local hippie commune, Stella is forced to bring her dreams down to Earth to care for her sister Jill.

Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun. There, people accept his tics, his Tourette’s. But when he’s denied Red Sun’s resident artist role he believed he was destined for, he starts to imagine a life beyond the gates of the compound…

The day Stella and Galliard meet, there is something in the air in their small town. Literally. So begins weeks of pink lightning, blood red rain, unexplained storms… And a countdown clock appears mysteriously above the town hall. With time ticking down to some great, unknowable end they’ll each have to make a choice.

If this is really the end of the world, who do they want to be when they face it?


(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Great Unknowable End is about self-discovery. Whether it be Galliard and his questioning of his Red Sun life, or Stella’s assumption of her motherly role towards her family, both of our main characters are at points in their life where they have figure out who they want to be. When you don’t think you can be anything else than what you’ve known, what you’ve thought, how do we break free? How do we become something we never thought was possible?

The Tension and Family Dynamics

All of this is grounded in a special town and a relationship that draws them, inexplicably, together. There are so many different elements occurring within The Great Unknowable End like the almost science fiction ‘Twilight Zone’ feel, the question of religion and fate, and complex family dynamics ever since Stella’s mother dies by suicide. It is a book that is almost like a swirling storm, these layers and depths of colors orbiting each other, until they are pulled together.

My only complaint is that Ormsbee does such an excellent job at describing and creating this tension that the climax ends up being not as climactic as I expected. Maybe this is just a case of my own expectations regarding the story and the premise, but it didn’t quite deliver what I was expecting. That’s not to say it was a bad ending, or that the climax didn’t fit the story, I think I was just hyped up more than I expected.


But if you’re looking for a story with some fabulous character development, a story about two teens who are steadily orbiting each other, until they meet, and intricate family dynamics, then The Great Unknowable End is certainly up your alley. I think this is a quiet YA book that has this understated tension and character intricacy that readers can really appreciate.

Find The Great Unknowable End on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What is the best ‘quiet’ YA you read last year?

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

  1. I’ve been excited for this book ever since I heard of it (especially because of the TS rep, I have TS and there aren’t many books with that rep), so I’m so glad you liked it! It’s so unfortunate I haven’t seen others talk about this book.

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