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A Beginning at the End

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,516 ratings  ·  394 reviews
How do you start over after the end of the world?

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering fa
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by MIRA
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  1,516 ratings  ·  394 reviews

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Megan Collins
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A BEGINNING AT THE END offers something I haven’t seen from post-apocalyptic fiction before: the point at which society begins to rebuild, when people must move forward, try to cultivate a new sense of normalcy, all while living with the lingering trauma of everything they lost when their world collapsed. This book does an excellent job exploring the struggles of that kind of life, but what I really admire is that most of the characters’ biggest challenges are ones that we’ve all faced, flu-ridd ...more
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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DNF @ p. 121

I think if I stuck with this it could maybe wrest another pity star from me, but I'm really not feeling the book right now. On the one hand, I do appreciate what Mike Chen is trying to do with A BEGINNING AT THE END, a dystopian set in San Francisco after a plague has wiped out 70% of the population.

I have read a lot of dystopians and pandemics are a favorite way to kill all the humans in these sorts of books. Rather than fo
A fresh, and dare I say charming?, take on post-apocalyptic fiction! At first glance you may not think that end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it and heartwarming tale can exist in the same story to a satisfying end, but rest assured that they do! This book strikes the perfect balance of dystopian collapse from major medical event (who doesn't love rubbernecking at that train wreck?), and a fresh start for humanity. Fans of Station Eleven will really enjoy Chen's masterful vision of what real people (w ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen is a post apocalyptic science fiction fantasy. This story follows a few of the survivors left in the world after a plague wiped out several billion people in the world by changing the point of view between them.

When the world was first battling a virus that was quickly spreading throughout the world and taking many people Moira was a young teen pop star that had spent her life controlled by her father. One night as she’s performing the crowd becomes chaotic as
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Update: This book is out now!!

I received an ARC from the author.

This book was such a treat. It was simultaneously charming, endearing, heart-warming AND horrifying, heart-breaking, and suspenseful. The apocalypse has come and maybe not completely gone, but everyone left has to keep on living. It's a great character study in perseverance and love, especially in how vulnerable we must be to connect with others. I read it so fast; I forced myself to pace it and only read one "part" a day, but I cou
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Longer review to come later.

**review copy sent to me by the publisher but all opinions are my own
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Six years after a flu epidemic wiped out 70% of the world’s population (wow, timely!) people are living behind breathing masks, marriage is now about safety not love, and a pop star’s father is obsessively trying to find her (you read that one right.) This was my second Mike Chen book and an interesting departure from the first one. I found myself most captivated by the psychological toll the flu epidemic would have taken on society, and this book focuses in on a small cast of characters as a fa ...more
Diana Urban
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book, and it is AMAZING. Full review to come...
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is a story about what happens after the “end of the world”. We follow four characters and their intertwining stories: Moira (or MoJo) an ex pop star trying to escape her past and stay hidden from her father, Rob, a widower figuring out how to move on with life after the tragic passing of his wife, Krista, a woman trying to make something of herself and forget her terrible childhood, and Sunny, Rob’s daughter, a kid growing up in a post apocalyptic world.

The story started fairly strong. I li
Lou Jacobs
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Chen's brilliant follow-up to his previous wonderful Debut time-travel tale: Here And Now And Then. This gem was devoured in two gulps … unfortunately I had to go to work in between. This amazing yarn highlights the notion than mankind will not be stopped and obliterated by such a "little thing" as post-viral apocalypse that claims over 5 billion souls. A vivid portrait of what truly is most important in life … family, friendship and getting involved in diverse relationships. This novel ...more
Rebecca Wilcox
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. A BEGINNING AT THE END is very different from any other Post-Apocalyptic novel that I've read in recent years. There are no life or death struggles, no toppling of governments. Rather, the action is intimate and personal. It's the kind of science fiction that gives you hope for the future.

The story is told through the POVs of four very different characters, all fighting through their personal traumas to create new lives in the aftermath of a flu pandemic. Though each has thei
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
3.5 stars but close to 4 for the hopeful feeling that drives this story.

I really like rebuilding stories generally, and while this one wasn't my favourite, I did enjoy it. I liked all three of the main characters, and the way their stories intertwined seemed natural and realistic. The story of the characters' growth was also enough for me, and I didn't think it needed anything more dramatic than Sunny's escapade to keep it moving.

I did find the writing just a bit rough at times. There were certa
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As in his debut novel, Here and Now and Then, Mike Chen brings a refreshing new emotionalism to science fiction with his latest work, A Beginning at the End. This is a refreshing take on post-apocalyptic sci-fi. A flu pandemic devastates the world population—and takes with it the world economy and infrastructure—bringing an end to the world as we know it. As a physician, I found that aspect both realistic and terrifying. Chen does a great job in his near-future world-building, showing the after- ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I would like to say that I LOVED Here Now And Then and was SUPER excited to be approved for this Arc from Edelweiss. Thank you!

This is not another time travel book. This is an end of the world disease where the end is on pause. There is mad max stuff happening and government controlled "regular life" where the rules are almost Handmaid's Tale. You get three people to read about with pretty cool backgrounds, popstar, alcoholic parent, and dead wife. This is a very unique end of the world b
***Note: I received a copy curtesy of Netgalley and HARLEQUIN - MIRA in exchange for an honest review.

This is, at least in theory, a dystopia set in San Francisco, after a flu epidemic has wiped out about two thirds of the population. However, it's a big stretch to call it a post-apocalyptic novel, as its real focus are individual stories of a runaway pop-star, a father and his daughter and a wedding planner.
I found it odd that, even if most of the population was wiped out by this plague, s
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely top shelf. One of the best books of this genre that I've ever read, up there with Earth Abides by George R Stewart. My only complaint was the length. I wanted more. It would have been interesting to get more of Moira's backstory, and that's all I can say without spoilers. This book is a great read. Although it won't be released until 2020, it's one of my favorite pieces of fiction read in 2019. Looking forward to his other book. ...more
Erin Parisien
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! A spectacular follow up to Mike Chen's Here And Now And Then. I loved the concept from the moment I heard it, and the author didn't disappoint. The characters are fantastic and the tension keeps you turning pages long after you told yourself you were going to stop. Definitely recommend (and if you haven't already, seek out Here And Now And Then). ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

More like a 4.5

A Beginning at the End gives us the opportunity to shed who we were in the midst of the flames. When we are faced with our own mortality, scared of the end, who will we be? What pieces of our lives become most important to us? A Beginning at the End maintains this balance between a post-apocalyptic setting with a quest for hope and family. Sure the world is plagued with
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars, and I can't decide if I should round up or down.

What I appreciate a lot with Mike Chen is his take on utterly realistic characters who are trying to do the right thing and acting quite stupidly along the way, so that the reader wants to reach out and give them a good shake. But that is always because the reader has the necessary distance and more knowledge. Here again I was delighted by the group of characters Chen has created:
A father who wants to prevent his daughter from suffering
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
A Beginning at the End is a post-apocalyptic novel primarily set in San Francisco in 2025, approximately six years after about five billion people died in a worldwide pandemic. It's a story of found family that follows three characters: Rob, a widowed single father who fears the Family Stability Board may take away his daughter; Moira, a former teenage pop star who ran from that life and the father who forced her to live it the first chance she got; and Krista, a wedding/event planner who firmly ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I will read everything Mike Chen writes
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: release-2020
4.5 To my surprise, this was even better than I expected! Although I don’t read near enough in these genres my goal is to change that this year. This book is a different spin on other sci-fi/post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read in the past.

Mike Chen’s character-driven story centers around the chance meetings of four engaging main characters after a deadly flu has wiped out much of the earths population; there’s Rob who’s struggling after his wife’s death to care for his very precocious 7 year old
DNF @45%. It might be because I am in a reading slump/burnout/whatever but this one failed to keep my attention. Interesting set up for a world recovering from a pandemic that killed more than five billion people, but I guess I need more exciting plot and characters for me to continue. I just could not handle more 250 pages/6 hours listening. At least I tried.

PS: My second DNF this month. Gosh I hope my other current read is much better.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me a bit, at first I thought it would be a books about a dystopian word but what I got was a book about surviving a pandemic (very scary given the current times) and how the survivors still find ways to connect to each other , it is a book of hope among misery and how human relationships are the most important thing when the world falls apart.
Karen’s Library
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read ALOT of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books. A Beginning at the End was probably one of the most realistic books I’ve read in this genre. I loved everything about it. Ok, maybe not the bits about the virus killing off 70% of the people. But, definitely about how the vast majority of the survivors pick themselves up and actually rebuild their world.

Is this new world like it used to be? Not quite. But close. Cell phones still work. There’s still internet. And TV. Technology doesn’t reve
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Well almost 4 stars. The first half was really good but the last half was a little too pat. Still I enjoyed it. And it was eerie to listen to the masked people in their pandemic as our city reversed their order to open.
Amber (The Book Bratz)
The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz

I still don't have enough words to do this book justice. Wow. Just wow. I love post apocalyptic books and books where society is trying to get back on it's feet after something horrible happens. A Beginning of the End is something fresh in the post-apocalyptic genre. Society is rebuilding from a flu epidemic that killed 5 billion people and left the living traumatized. It's about finding a family when there is no hope and even the darkest mom
Lauren Stoolfire
What a surreal reading experience...
3.5 stars. A somewhat hopeful pandemic story, of four people who become tangled in each other’s lives. This wasn’t as intricate or layered a story as the other pandemic story I read this month (Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World), but I still enjoyed reading Mike Chen’s view of what society might look like after a massive number of deaths due to a worldwide flu. I liked the characters and all their coping mechanisms due to their various losses and trauma in their lives. ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-s, ebooks, sci-five
Review coming soon!
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Mike Chen is the author of Here And Now And Then (a finalist for Goodreads Choice - Best Sci-Fi, CALIBA Golden Poppy, and the Compton Crook Award) and A Beginning At The End ("a brilliant, fragile path through the darkness" -- Library Journal). His short fiction is featured in Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View -- The Empire Strikes Back, and he has covered geek culture for sites such as Tor. ...more

Articles featuring this book

The start of 2020 has already delivered new books from some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy, from William Gibson and Mike...
71 likes · 22 comments
“See, relations are people with the same blood. But family, that's different. Family is about who gives you hope, who gets involved. And earns the right for forgiveness. Or at least starts down the path.” 1 likes
“As a community, we still emphasized the importance of familial ties but finally understood that the definition of family wasn't about blood or even who or what you'd lost. It was about what gave you hope and who was willing to get involved.” 1 likes
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