Category: General Fiction
Author: Megan HUnter
Format: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), 136 pages
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Pub Date: November 7, 2017
Summary from Publisher:
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.
This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.
- From Goodreads
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is a first novella by its author, a story in a dystopian setting that begins as its title suggests, at the end—the potential apocalyptic end of civilization as its known during an unknown time in the future.
Its story focuses on a young, pregnant woman who gives birth to a baby boy she and her partner name, Z. But, with his birth not only comes the emotional joy and bond of motherhood, but a time in which the world is in an environmental crisis, one which devastates land with flood and people homeless and nomadic.
The novella in its less than 140-page story, tells a narrative of scarcity, sickness, death, and for some, survival.
The narrative, too, almost becomes a stylistic comment on the theme of the book, the way it is written so sparingly, as if prose itself is stripped to its basic necessity. The narrative is more prose poem than it is detailed novel writing.
The names of characters, too, are not fully named, but are rather diminished to single letters, as if the characters themselves, like in the potential danger of the apocalyptic theme, have also diminished to a lesser identity or a figurative identity that could be everyone—or anyone—in a mass apocalypse.
What is personal in the story is the narrative of the main character, the woman who becomes mother, how this pivotal role has involuntarily helped her fall in love with her child, with motherhood, even in the direst circumstances. It gives her at the very least, a hard resolve to focus all of her energy on the survival of her son, whose blissful ignorance is both a blessing and a curse.
While the narrative can be considered lyrical in the sense that it is not traditionally prose, the scarcity in detail can and may frustrate readers who prefer not to work so hard to imagine the gaps in which the author leaves for readers to interpret or extrapolate.
And sometimes this type of narrative misses the opportunity to really depict a fuller experience of the senses in the story. But, rather leaves a stark, inexplicable setting that readers may not fully enjoy because of the lack of detail and connection.
And because of its short size, the story does only a sparse job in giving what seemed a superficial account of plot and character dimension in what could be a compelling dystopian story.
Still, if you’re not looking for a long narrative, don’t dislike poetry or a lack of detailed prose, and want a peek at what could be a catastrophic, environmental crisis, then yes, this little novella is for you.
Otherwise, it’s an interesting, yet superficial take on the instinct and hardship involved in attempting to survive in an apocalyptic world where flood, famine, and loss are at its most relevant.
Characters: 3 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Language/Narrative: 2.5 stars
Dialogue: 2.5 stars
Pacing: 2.5 stars
Cover Design: 2.5 stars
A special thanks to Penguin Random House Canada on behalf of Hamish Hamilton for providing me with an advanced reading copy (ARC) of The End We Start From by Megan Hunter in exchange for an honest and timely review.
About the Author:
Megan Hunter was born in Manchester in 1984, and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a BA in English Literature from Sussex University, and an MPhil in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her short story ‘Selfing’.
Megan’s first book, The End We Start From, will be published in 2017 by Picador (UK), Grove Atlantic (USA/Canada), Gallimard (France), Beck (Germany), Hollands Diep (Holland), and Elsinore (Portugal).
- From Goodreads