A title like Everything Matters! suggests a drama centered around the butterfly effect, or a philosophical argument draped in a novel's clothes, or a maudlin romance with a line like "Everything matters... when everything is you." Ron Currie Jr.'s novel is none of these. Junior Thibodeau, from fetal development, is told by a mysterious voice that in his lifetime the world will be destroyed by an asteroid. The voice believes that Junior, better than anyone, can answer the question "Does anything I do matter?" To what end is never stated.

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Junior grows up, falls in love, flirts with domestic terrorism, and produces medical breakthroughs—the voice guiding the way and the ever-present countdown to the end approaching—with no answer to the question. Eventually, when the government learns of Junior's clairvoyance, Junior and shadowy intelligence agents hatch a scheme to save the world, while Junior struggles to reclaim lost love and save his family.

We're all going to die. Unless we believe in the importance of legacy, Junior's condition is very close to our own, asteroid or not. Currie's novel is a giant, if tender, middle finger to the apocalyptic tone of the last decades set by people like Samuel Huntington, Al Gore, and every pastor making good on Revelation (which is more concerned with how we are going to die rather than how we are to live). EM! does give an answer to the pressing question (hint: It’s the title), but the issue of how to live is not a yes-or-no issue. But for many readers, telling Armageddon to fuck off, like Junior must, might be a new idea. recommended

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