Book Review: The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

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Title: The End We Start From

Author: Megan Hunter

Number of Pages: 136

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

The unnamed heroine of The End We Start From gives birth to a baby around the same time that London is partially destroyed in an apocalyptic flood. Her son Z and her husband R (all the supporting characters are given letters of the alphabet instead of proper names) flee to R’s parents’ house but when tragedy strikes, R begins to drift away from the heroine and she and her son eventually carry on through a deconstructed society without him.


This book has a very attractive cover and it was extremely short, so I knew I could probably finish it in no time at all. Aside from the fact that it’s less than 150 pages long, the print was positively gigantic and there were frequently paragraph breaks. Sometimes there would be sentences that were separated by paragraph breaks. I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters, because the author didn’t let me get to know any of them. Aside from the depersonalization of none of them being given real names, they almost entirely lacked unique or interesting character traits that would make them stand out.


Because of the languid and artsy writing style, there was very little sense of suspense or danger. For a book with an apocalyptic setting, it moseyed along pretty sedately with the main character and her baby drifting from place to place. There was also a marked lack of descriptions of either the characters or the settings that made it difficult to visualize anything that was happening in the story. I did find myself enjoying the minimalist prose, and I think the author has potential to write something in the future that is much better than this book.


I felt that the main problem wasn’t the writing style but the fact that it seemed to lack substance; it was way too short and I don’t feel that it is something that will leave a lasting impression on me. I feel like The End We Start From would have been improved tremendously if the author had built upon her original concept, making the dangers the characters face along the way seem more dangerous and actually giving the protagonist and the people around her solid personality characteristics. I liked the way Megan Hunter handled the theme of motherhood and birth and growth in the face of destruction and chaos, and I felt there was a real sense of how much the main character loved her baby. I just wish there had been more.


At least The End We Start From wasn’t a paint-by-numbers post-apocalyptic story, I feel like it was probably a project the author was passionate about. I didn’t even think it was a bad read, but I also felt that it was ultimately too forgettable to recommend to others. It’s one of those books that you read and you don’t regret that you read it, but you probably aren’t going to remember it within a year and you move right on to the next book without it sticking in your mind.


However, I fully acknowledge that I can be a harsh reviewer and some people might see something special in this book that I just didn’t. I am not and have never been a mother and maybe that’s what’s missing that might enable me to relate to this story. It’s short and lyrical and has a certain delicacy, and for some people that might be enough.


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