Sunday, November 12, 2017

The End We Start From

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
Grove Atlantic: 11/7/17
eBook review copy; 160 pages
ISBN-13: 9780802126894

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is a recommended debut dystopian novel.

An unnamed narrator is pregnant and gives birth to her first child, a son called Z. Simultaneously an apocalyptic flood hits London and the women is forced to leave her apartment with her husband, R, a few days after giving birth. They make it to the home of R's parents in the country, but have limited supplies there. Eventually they are forced to leave for a camp for displaced persons, hoping to find safe shelter and food. R ends up taking off for a "few weeks" but is essentially gone. Our narrator makes friends with other mothers of young children, O, and evens travels with her to find another place of safety.

This is a difficult novel to review. It is a dystopian, but we never exactly know the what and why's (global warming? a natural disaster?). What we have is a new mother, marveling at her son's development and surviving the disaster. What we don't have is information about, well, much of anything of significance beyond what the narrator mentions. While the novel is almost poetic in its descriptions and phrasing, Hunter left out an important part, a definitive plot and narrative for us to follow while appreciating the well written turns of a phrase. We have a light plot - a woman has given birth to a son and a disaster of great magnitude has happened - but no great substance and details in the body of the novel.

Now, I say novel, but, at 160 pages this is close to a novella. It is a very fast read. With the lyricism in what Hunter does write, I do wonder if it was a choice to pare the novel down to the bare bones, just as the character's names are reduced to an initial. Are we supposed to extrapolate the missing details and infer what happened? However, there are cases when her descriptive prose is overwrought and not conveying just the essential information. It's a quandary.  This is Hunter's debut novel, however, so she is a writer to watch for future novels.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of
Grove Atlantic via Netgalley.

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