Book Reviews

Review: A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

You know who your auto-buy authors are? Well one of mine has to be Mike Chen ever since Here and Now and Then. A Beginning at the End is a story that allows us to examine what we care about in the face of the End.

Summary

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 father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

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 this pandemic, but our lives go on. We pick up the ashes of the ruins and we have to figure out how we will continue living.

Told through four perspectives, A Beginning at the End tackles issues of stability, idealism, and hope. Faced with the demise of the human population, how does the government and our system of law and order morph? Stability becomes important not only for our own sense of self-preservation, but for the continuation of our species. It means that our decisions about love and families become political.

At the end, can we really ever truly escape? In some ways, each of our characters are trying to run from something, whether it be someone, the future, or our past. There will be moments of joy. Of marriage and guilt. In this post-apocalyptic world, what place is hope? A lot of these survival stories can be ones about our very material survival. Having food and our sense of danger, but A Beginning at the End examines the survival of our hope, our families, and our society. What do we turn into at the end of the world? How do we cope with our need to preserve the past, versus our new approach for the future?

Overall,

In A Beginning at the End, there are all sorts of parent/child relationships throughout the book. Our complex relationships with the ones we love, the ones we try to protect, the ones we leave behind. We never escape these. But at the same time, the approach to shut the door on the past, the keep running forward, can’t work. Sure the reckoning is difficult, but it’s the way we let the past inform the present. It’s the way we evolve versus starting over.

At the same time, A Beginning at the End is about found family. The ones we choose and the journeys we go on to find them. Find A Beginning at the End on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

Discussion

What is your favorite post-apocalyptic book?


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