Premise: in a dystopian version of the UK (like that isn’t what we’re actually experiencing in real-life), London is submerged by a massive flood, causing widespread homelessness and displacement. A woman gives birth and is forced to abandon her home, traveling further and further in search of safety and a future for her family.
Thoughts: firstly, this book is only 160 pages long. I point this out early because I didn’t realise this until my Kindle told me it would only take me an hour to read and I wondered if it was about to explode or something. Sometimes a short book is great (particularly for those of us with massive Goodreads challenges); it just wasn’t what I anticipated. Also, if, like me, your brain is still replaying the greatest indie songs of 2007, you are quite likely to continually confuse The End We Start From with the Editors’ song, An End Has a Start, which is a bit distracting.
Because of the brevity of the book, things seem to move quite quickly at times, before barely moving at all, which seems an adequate reflection of events in the story; the narrator leave London in a hurry and are, initially, frenzied in their movements, before settling in a variety of different, often unsatisfying camps, where there’s nothing to do except worry about the future. I don’t know if the formatting is specific to the e-ARC I read, but the writing is sparse, with a sentence making up a whole paragraph; this did make it quite difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the story. As far as I can tell, the narrator was never named, which is something I’m not a huge fan of; I wanted to feel really involved in the story, but due to this name-related distance and the short length, it didn’t really happen.
The story itself is really intriguing; I have a child and the thought of having to look after her in such an unpredictable and frightening landscape did unnerve me. I was reminded of Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus while reading The End We Start From, with its strange relationships and urgency surrounding the care of a small child, as well as the environmental disaster that precipitates the plot (look – a weather pun! I am funny). I’d have liked to see more development, probably with at least another 150 pages; I find it quite hard to be fully satisfied by a novella rather than a full novel.
In Conclusion: really intriguing, with an original writing style, The End We Start From is a book which packs a punch. I’d have liked to see some more development, but I’m sure its brevity will appeal to readers who aren’t as picky as me. I’d recommend to fans of The End of the World Running Club too.