Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
With the disruption of the end of the Trump presidency and and a global pandemic, what better time to think about what you would do if you survived the end of the world! The book description seemed like an interesting premise and the cover design with the whale drew me in.
Review copy or purchase
Review copy via publisher Coronet and NetGalley UK in exchange for an honest review.
What it’s about
Ruth Lancaster has lived quite an ordinary life. She’s in her 30s, and has rarely been alone although best friend Fran teases that she never leaves on relatioship without another one to move on to. Ruth is a school teacher and close to her loving parents, but feels dissatisfied with her life and an overbearing boyfriend. When she decides to get away from it all by journeying to the other side of the world, she doesn’t realise that a global tragedy is going to test her to the limits.
The story is told simultaneously in the present and near future. Chapters alternate between the Ruth of today, getting to know her as she moves from mistress to live-in girlfriend at home in London. Then flashing forward a few years to where she has travelled to New Zealand and has survived some major world tragedy. It’s never clear what this is, the Ruth of the present steadfastedly ignores the news so all we find out is hints through other characters which suggest increasing global tensions and the destruction of wester Europe).
We follow Ruth as she learns to survive alongside freelance photographer and native New Zealander Nik, while gradually coming to understand how she ended up there and how little her previous life had prepared her for her new one.
This is a really well told story. It’s slow paced and methodical, but never boring. Ruth purposely tunes out the bad news at home which gives an eerie sense of sleepwalking into disaster. Although if she’d paid attention to the news and been more engaged at home, she may not have survived what happened.
You won’t find many of the post-apocalyptic horror tropes here. There aren’t roving bands of crazed gangs. The threats are more practical in nature, and are as likely to arise in the portions about hte present time as they are in the post-crisis world.
A thoughtful and interesting story and one I very much enjoyed.