Title: The End We Start From
Author: Megan Hunter
“It is bad, the news. Bad news as it always was, forever, but worse. More relevant. This is what you don’t want, we realize. What no one ever wanted: for the news to be relevant.”
The End We Start From is a piece of impactful dystopian fiction which sees a family thrown into the unknown when London, and the surrounding areas are flooded and they must flee. Having just given birth to her first child, the narrator must work out how to keep them all safe while giving the baby the nourishment she needs, and more importantly, trying to stay together. But in this bleak and unrecognisable future, when separated from those you love, how on earth are you supposed to survive?
I liked the author’s choice to only name characters using an initial – it gave them less of an identity which I think was a nice touch in making the reader realise how many anonymous casualties an event like this can create. Throughout, I definitely felt a sense of trepidation for the characters and I was unsure how it would end for them and if they’d ever find sanctuary again, plus the poetic nature of the book made this danger feel even more epic and allowed for a deeper impact on the reader.
The narrative is a cross between poetry and prose, and while I thought this allowed the pace to quicken, it also meant the plot was rather vague, especially in the details (a negative to only allowing the characters to have initials instead of names). I could give you an overall idea for what happened in the plot, but it felt like Hunter didn’t want to divulge specifics and was more interested in conveying a feeling instead. I think she definitely achieved this and the effect of the book overall was quite profound even if it was quite a short read. Also, I got the sense that the writing felt more like a stream-of-consciousness from the narrator which is why sometimes it lacks in structure, and as with other elements of the book, I can see both the positives and negatives to having this.
All in all I did enjoy this book, and I think, as it’s a quick read, it’s nice to read something which doesn’t conform to the normal or average style of a novel. The End We Start From is definitely memorable, not least for it’s unique style, but also for the sense of dark foreboding it tries to convey. While I do think some empathy was lost in the lack of details given, I can also understand why the author chose to do this, so if it’s a style you enjoy, then this book will be very enjoyable for you!