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The End We Start From

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  10,837 ratings  ·  1,709 reviews
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 str ...more
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Picador
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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 ne…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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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  10,837 ratings  ·  1,709 reviews

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Always Pouting
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
My first reaction upon finishing this book is no. I didn't know what it was about, so I just kept reading and trying to decipher what was going on the whole time. I got very annoyed by the choppy writing and the vagueness. It does become clear that it's about a women who recently gives birth in a world where things are unstable, but the instability is also itself vague, at points there's reference to war, though there are some things that allude to the environmental crisis/flooding that I just r ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Larry H
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Diane S ☔
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
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 (On a little break)
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
Oct 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
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
Peter Boyle
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
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

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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian, 2017-read
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 facto ...more
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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Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4.5 stars]

This was such a surprise! I recently read Hunter’s second novel, The Harpy, and while I appreciated the writing, I didn’t vibe with the story. This one was very different but still had some really great writing. It’s atmospheric and poetic and a bit disjointed. But it captures feelings so well and that’s really what moved me. It wasn’t quite 5 stars for something I can’t put my finger on, but I still really loved this. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend sinking into in one sitting
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
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
catherine ♡
Dec 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
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.
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Z opens his eyes a little more every day. I am constantly aware of the complex process of breath: how the heart has to keep beating, to bring oxygen to the lungs in and out. Or something. It seems that at any moment it could stop. Sometimes he sleeps so quietly it seems that he has gone. We mostly lie in R’s old childhood bedroom, now with double bed and Moses basket creaking with Z’s every move. The news rushes past downstairs like a flow of traffic. Even our flat there underwater doesn’t ma
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The unnamed narrator describes rising waters due to climate-related upheavals (?) in beautiful, poetic prose in this novella. The narrator’s tone is somewhat remote, with not a lot of clear information conveyed about what is causing the disaster, or where she and her partner are located. This distancing extends to character names; the narrator refers to each person simply by the first letter of their first name.
Sad and terrible things happen repeatedly as the narrator and her partner R keep movi
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Jessi ❤️ H. Vojsk [if villain, why hot?]
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
Liked the setting and the concept, but feels a little too vague for me.

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
Erin Clemence
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Mridu  aka Storypals
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
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 -
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Beautifully written. The story didn’t really grip me, but this is more to do with my personal taste in genre than with the book. It’s a good book, but it didn’t really speak to me. If you enjoyed the parts in Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, about Offred’s life before the new regime came, then you’ll probably love this. It had a lot of the same vibes and interesting character dynamic. If you’re into distopian books and you enjoy a poetic writing style, you’ll probably love this.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 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, fairl
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Megan Hunter’s first novel, The End We Start From, was published in 2017 in the UK, US, and Canada, and has been translated into eight languages. It was shortlisted for Novel of the Year at the Books Are My Bag Awards, longlisted for the Aspen Words Prize, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Awards finalist and won the Forward Reviews Editor’s Choice Award. Her writing has appeared in The White Review ...more

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