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The End We Start From

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  6,719 ratings  ·  1,190 reviews
As London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place, shelter to shelter, to a desolate island and back again. The story traces fear and wonder, as the baby’s small fists grasp ...more
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Grove Atlantic
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Jane I found it made the story seem much more inclusive. R could have been Robert, or Rashid, or Raoul or any other R name at all. Also my experience of…moreI found it made the story seem much more inclusive. R could have been Robert, or Rashid, or Raoul or any other R name at all. Also my experience of new mothers, especially in stressful situations, is that they tend not to talk in long and complex sentences. They ramble sometimes but actual conversation tends to be a lot more sporadic...:-)(less)
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3.48  · 
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 ·  6,719 ratings  ·  1,190 reviews

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Larry H
I rate this 3.5 stars.

Sometime in the future, London is submerged beneath floodwaters, and people fear the end of the world is drawing near. As the floods approach a woman gives birth to a baby boy, Z. Within a few days, she and her husband R must flee their home and search for a safer place.

Each day they worry about whether the floods will find them. When they take refuge with R's parents, they discover that the fear is never far away from them. And while the woman is worried about what is happ
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully and frustratingly sparse. This book is written in absolutely stunning prose that in places feels like poetry. It is stylistically wonderful - its sparseness works great in conveying the way the world has shrunk around the protagonist; minimizing her field of vision around the essentials: her new-born son and her husband.

Set in the not so distant future when the oceans have risen dramatically and drowned much of England, the main character has just given birth to her son when she has
Diane S ☔
A very interesting and timely premise. The water levels are rising, London already under water, and it is spreading to cover different cities and towns. A young woman is about to give birth, and soon has baby Z. Fascinating juxtsposition, a pending breakdown of society, with the wonder of a new birth. They are forced to move, again and again from camp to camp, as the water rises, and as food supplies dwindle. Baby Z grows, and a mother's love for her child very apparent.

The story is told in sho
Angela M
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I finished this short, thought provoking novel, which I read in almost one sitting, my reaction on the one hand was that this could be seen as a bold debut or on the other as an overly ambitious one. There is no dialogue, the characters are nameless except for an initial, and the structure of the book is different than most novels. I lean toward the bold even with a reservation about nameless characters.

Some catastrophic event is occurring. Though we never are told specifically, the devast

”What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

”I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain.”

She is thirty-two weeks pregnant when the announcement is made that the water is rising even faster than they thought. She is thirty-nine weeks pregnant when they return to tell them they don’t have to move, it was all
Amalia Gavea
‘’In the darkness demons flew. Their shapes made a fearful noise until a voice called out, and they were still, and the silence was complete.’’

When we have read 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale , it is reasonable to believe that it would be rather difficult to be touched by any other dystopian novel. Yet, we may be mistaken. At least, I was. Frightfully. I frankly don’t know where to begin with The End We Start From. It shocked me, frightened me, moved me and disturbed me. And as far as I am conce
Oct 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a strange book. The writing is very sparse. At time, the book reads more like someone’s notes about a book than an actual story. And it's funny how the use of initials instead of names threw me for a loop.

In this book a woman gives birth to her firstborn just as a flood envelopes London. She and her husband escape to a mountain to live with his parents. But they are forced to keep moving and half the time the reasons are not filled in. People come, people go. It's like as the world ends, s
After digesting for a couple days, am still not quite sure how I feel about this short dystopian read. Initially confused...I wanted more. The story is vague with much left unsaid, but fear of the unknown is there.

In the beginning...or is it the expectant mother's water breaks and a child called Z is born. (No names here...only single capital letters for characters.) In a desolate new...or is it, water is flooding the country, and struggle for survival is apparent. A search

Peter Boyle
This slender novel was the subject of a bidding frenzy at the London Book Fair and my Twitter feed has been singing its praises for the past few months. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy so I decided to see what all the commotion is about.

The story is set in the UK of the near future. An unprecedented environmental catastrophe occurs and much of London lies underwater. Chaos reigns - nobody was prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. The narrator is forced to flee her apartment wi
Dannii Elle
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Megan Hunter, and the publisher, Picador, for this opportunity.

This post-apocalyptic fiction sees a very-near-future version of Great Britain in a state of veritable panic due to the increasing sea water levels. A mother-to-be is living in terror of her uncertain future. A father-to-be is haunted by claustrophobia in a sinking world. A baby is about to be born, and knows nothing of the predicament he is arriving
This is a short novella that I don't quite know how to review! I am still not exactly sure what it is I read but I was certainly intrigued.

The story is set in a dystopian world after a catastrophic flood and follows the events that happen to a new mother and her infant son as they move from place to place searching for food, for safety... For a semblance of life as we know it.

The characters are only known by letters of the alphabet... R, Z, O for example. We never hear them utter a moment of d
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
This was a short novel, a cautionary tale on the condition of earth should the water rise and take over the land. Not only would we lose the land, we would also lose ourselves to drift in a world where we moved from place to place looking for a place where we can be dry.

Into the environment comes a family, a new mother and her husband. The novella is not really so much directed towards disaster as it is a treatise on being a parent. The husband is missing in this story, where all people go by an
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a truly beautiful poetic framework of an eerily possible future that we all should consider. The story starts off with a woman in the hospital about to give labor, nervous about what the news keeps reporting as an impending disaster brewing. Several days later, she has to evacuate with her husband and son to safer grounds. The story vividly portrays the couple seeking refuge, while trying to remain safe and protecting their family. The creepiness factor ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
A mother gives birth to a baby. However, the parents’ happiness is marred by the floodwaters that are rising all around them. They’re forced to evacuate with the newborn infant. They need to keep moving to find land above the flood levels. The news that is coming to them is not encouraging. Panic has spread and the world is no longer a safe place.

What a contrast – the beauty of the birth of a child and his discoveries of the fascinating world around him against the harsh reality of a planet that
Ostensibly a dystopian novel, but actually almost entirely about motherhood. Written in a spare style that has poetic qualities, thus very short; a quick read. I can't imagine a less interesting approach to dystopia, and the story left me cold, but that is a very personal judgement. Just not for me.

I received an advance review copy of The End We Start From from the publisher through NetGalley.

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The End We Start From is Station Eleven meets Exit West - a literary soft apocalypse refugee story set in a near-future Great Britain. Except, it's a pared down, sort of anemic version of both of those novels. It was well written, but for the most part left me cold.

This novella doesn't use names and doesn't fixate on details - instead it's about humanity, the connections we make, the ways we adapt to change. Although Megan Hunter does an impressive job at delving into these themes in so short a
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Congratulations to Megan Hunter for a well-written first novel. A young woman gives birth to a son as London is submerged by floodwaters and everyone flees. She, her partner, and her son flee north into a dangerous territory to save themselves. The story is centered on the woman bonding with her son under extraordinary conditions. Set in the future, the book ultimately demonstrates renewal and rebirth. The story has much tragedy, yet it didn't evoke emotion from me - I couldn't seem to care abou ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
3.5 stars rounded up
This is a novella which can easily be read in one sitting; sparse would be a good way of describing it. The little paragraphs are rarely more than one or two sentences and they are well spaced out. The novel is dystopian and relates to an environmental disaster in the very near future involving water, lots of it. It illustrates how quickly our comfortable lifestyles and communities can disintegrate. It is narrated by an unnamed and heavily pregnant woman. All the other charac
Catherine ♡
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actual Rating: 1.5

Agh. I really thought I would love this. I'm a huge fan of dystopian novels, and I love reading poetic, elegant writing. I wasn't sure how they would work together, but after reading this book - I'm not too sure it works.

There were definitely places where the writing style was beautiful, but overall I think it worked against the story. Because it was so soft and airy, the story lost a lot of its intensity and speed - things that are typically very important to a dystopian unive
Jessi ♥️ H. Vojsk
This is a strange book.

It’s about a women, her baby and her husband who wants to survive in a world that ends.
It’s written in a poetical way, so it’s like you’re reading a really long beautiful text or poem.
Ellen Gail
I...I don't really know what to say? Super weird and confusing.

I've read some weird books in my time. Good weird, bad weird, you name it; deadly sounds, man eating gators, severed bee penises, bones and blood sprouting from the ground, a werebeetle, and some unfortunate life decisions involving mayonnaise. To name a few.

So as a self-named expert on weird, that's what I'm going to choose to call The End We Start From. This shit is WEIRD.

This is a not very dystopian dystopia, but hey, the concept
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is short fiction yet I struggled to finish it. Never has an apocalypse seem more mundane. Perhaps I am missing the point of the novel, but if this is what literary writing is like, I want no part in it. Erratic, scattered, detached writing. Characters identifiable only via the letters of the alphabet. There are sections where the writing is admittedly beautiful, but not enough to save me from the sense that I just read a whole lot of nothing.
Mridu  aka Storypals
I received a copy from Netgalley!
and boy oh boy was I excited for this, blurb amazing. COVER FABULOUS. But I am at a serious loss for words of how to review this book, I really wanted to like it you know. I did!

Read my whole review here -
⭐⭐⭐ / 5

My reviews and (maybe) some other random thoughts can also be seen at


If you like metaphoric, poetic prose then you will enjoy The End We Start From by Megan Hunter.

The prose in this book was very metaphoric, and unfortunately sometimes the meaning was lost on me. The writing was also very sparse in this book. At 134 pages this novella is very short and can be read in one sitting, fairly q
Erin Clemence
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I am not sure what I just read. For the record, I am not a fan of poetry or short stories (they just aren’t my thing. I am more old school, beginning-middle-end kind of girl who prefers definitive endings) and it is extremely evident that Megan Hunter is a poet, and not a writer.

“The End We Start From” sounds promising. A young family is stranded after (what we can assume) a flo

At one level, this beguiling debut novel(la) by Megan Hunter can be enjoyed as a work of science fiction, or even as a Mieville-like piece of "new weird". Its setting is a contemporary London made strange by an inexplicable environmental phenomenon - the waters are rising, swallowing cities and towns and bringing about social mayhem. Right at the onset of the deluge, the narrator gives birth to a son - Z. Days later, mother and child have to head to the North to avoid the advancing waters. W
Jane Shambler
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I am at a serious loss how to review this book. The blurb on the back of this book told me it was an interesting read. Then I read a review that gave the opposite of what I expected. So me being me I just had to read it. I wouldn't say I was disappointed, I wouldn't say it was what I expected. The book left me feeling empty and with a what the hell have I just read feeling.

I will admit it is quite well written. The book is about a young women giving birth for the first time while London is being
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
See my full review and much more on my blog KissinBlueKaren

This story is more about motherhood than the event. It was so fascinating to read about this woman whose whole world has changed not just because of the event, but because of the Z, a child she thought she would never have. She’s older and has waited a long time to be a mother. Even still, motherhood changes a woman. Her story of discovery of her child, along with the miracle and struggles of newborns, was so familiar.

The prose in this
Janelle • She Reads with Cats
THE END WE START FROM by Megan Hunter - Thank you so much to Grove Atlantic for providing my free copy!

This tiny little book is written in gorgeous prose; it almost feels like a long-form poem. It begins with a disaster of water levels rising and causing England to mostly go under water. A woman gives birth to her only son, Z, and she and her husband, R, do what they need to do to survive. They pick up and move upward and onward in order to stay out of harm’s way.

The story seems sparse because i
Maddie C.
In an undisclosed time, maybe in the near-future, an apocalyptic flood submerges most of the United Kingdom and forces people to flee from their homes and find shelter elsewhere. Millions of people, our narrator and main character, unnamed, are displaced and dislodged, trying to survive the first few months/years of the flood the best way they can. However, if you’re going into the book expecting a meditation on the end of times and its causes, you’ll be disappointed.

Written in verse (more speci
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Megan Hunter was born in Manchester in 1984, and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a BA in English Literature from Sussex University, and an MPhil in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her short story ‘Selfing’.

“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.” 7 likes
“I remember going on a protest when I was 14. We sat down in the city's busiest junction. We stopped all the cars until the police or some thugs dragged us away.” 0 likes
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