The End We Start From
by Megan Hunter
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.
To be completely honest, I picked this book up because I liked the cover but the blurb interested me too.
In the not too distant future, the oceans have risen and submerged the majority of the UK. Living in London, the unnamed protagonist has just given birth and is now forced to leave her flat to head North. For me this plot really has made me think. We always hear about rising sea levels, but the reality of what this could mean has never really crossed my mind in this way.
This book is written in a style I have never experienced before. It’s beautifully poetic and in short, note-like sentences, the content is sparse yet still powerful. The whole book reads like a notebook or diary with short, vague jottings quickly written in spare moments.
“The news on the hour, 14th June, one o’clock. Tina Murphy reporting. An unprecedented flood. London. Uninhabitable. A list of boroughs, like the shipping forecast, their names suddenly as perfect and tender as the names of children. Ours.”
I just had to finish this in one sitting, always anticipating what was around the corner for this family and I don’t think that you could appreciate the story in the same way in two or more parts.
Characters are named only with initials as if real names no longer matter following the collapse of society. There is absolutely no dialogue and detail is limited, instead focusing on humanity, the friends we make and the connections we have.
I really enjoyed this work by Megan Hunter and am impressed at the talent it has taken to put together such a powerful poetic book. A little bit of research into other opinions shows me that this is one you’ll either love or hate. It’s certainly not your typical novel but I couldn’t put it down and would have read and enjoyed another couple of hundred of pages if I could.
Overall rating: A short but powerful dystopian story that really makes you think. The UK is underwater due to rapidly rising sea levels and this book explores the story of one woman coping with motherhood, love, loss and chaos all at the same time. It’s not your typical read so don’t go in expecting full descriptive paragraphs and lengthy dialogue because that’s not what you’ll find. I really liked this one so it’s 5 stars from me.