REVIEW: The End We Start From, Megan Hunter

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

If I’m being honest, I really don’t know how I feel about The End We Start From; I’ve been thinking about for a few days and yet I still cannot land on whether I like or dislike this book. On one hand, the more positive one, Megan Hunter has written this book in an incredibly beautiful way, with it being almost written in a lyrical or poetic format which is unusual to come across in the dystopian genre. This structure makes for an easy and extremely engaging read that really paints a vivid picture of the main character’s life with her newborn son. With the narrative’s main focus being on the act of rearing a child, which is an everyday part of a lot of people’s lives, it makes to construct a sharp and poignant contrast between the mundane and the dystopian mayhem that is going on in the world outside of the main character’s little personal bubble.
But, in my more negative feelings towards the book, this is also where it is lacking. This extreme focus on the unnamed main character and her initialised loved-ones makes the tragedy of the world vague and ambiguous, and although some people find more fear in the unknown, I am certainly not one of them. You could say that this is due to the main character fixating on her baby in an attempt to ignore the horrors of their new world, but I do not know if that would be realistic to someone in that situation - wouldn’t you want to know the dangers so that you could then better protect your child? I would anyway.
Also, despite the characters existing in a world in which they are supposedly constant danger, there is never a direct sense of threat against the main character and her child, who are shielded away from near-all of the carnage. This led me to never feeling any sense of fear for them, especially the protagonist of the story (who is probably the main reason why I didn’t particularly like The End We Start From) who made decisions that I can’t imagine that I ever would, and never really showed any grief or emotion over the deaths of people she knew.
Overall, with the book being only 180 pages, I suppose that I didn’t lose anything from my life by taking just-under-an-hour to sit down and read this. But I certainly don’t feel as though I gained anything either.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review

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