The End We Start From
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 stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

The End We Start From Details

TitleThe End We Start From
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 18th, 2017
PublisherPicador
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Literary Fiction

The End We Start From Review

  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 happening in the world around her, and how R is reacting to it all, she spends so much of each day simply marveling at her baby and how he is growing, flourishing even as the future is uncertain. She is overwhelmed by her maternal feelings, by the miracle she and R created.As the trio moves to a camp where other displaced people are living, the claustrophobia, the uncertainty, the panic becomes too much for R to bear. He leaves his wife and baby, ostensibly to see what other options are out there, but both know what this departure could signify."He says it will only be for a week or so. To get a break. To look into other options. He says we should stay, that it is safer. The relief is hanging from him, a loose shirt. I look at the car before I lose it. I try to take in all of its details. Before he leaves, I put his full hand over my face, like a mask. I do this even though there is no point. Even though smells can't be held."As circumstances force her to move again, she begins making friends with others in similar situations. But she longs for her husband, reflects on their love, and tries not to stagger under her feelings of love and responsibility for her son. She cannot stop living even though she misses her husband, because she must live for her son. She must show him love, experience his moments of joy and sadness, and watch him grow.I never would have imagined a book so sparsely written could be so lyrical, but The End We Start From feels almost poetic at times. Megan Hunter chose her words so carefully, it was as if she wanted to be sure no excess words distracted from the beauty of her writing."Our city is here, somewhere, but we are not. We are all untied, is the thing. Untethered, floating, drifting, all these things. And the end, the tether, the re-leash, is not in sight."As much as Hunter's prose is breathtaking, the story itself could use a little more meat. Maybe it was her intent for her readers to fill in the blanks she left in the story, but I would have preferred a bit more narrative. I also found the gimmick of referring to every character with their first initial (the protagonist only interacted with one person per letter, it appeared) to be a little twee. I'm never a fan of books that refer to people or places that way.This was a moving, thought-provoking read, one that I completed in one sitting. (I took a bit longer for lunch because I had to finish this book.) I liked it a good deal but didn't love it as I'd hoped—it's not perfect, and Hunter's storytelling choices may rub some the wrong way. To me, however, The End We Start From signifies the birth of a new literary talent. Megan Hunter is definitely one to watch, because if this is her first novel, I can only imagine what comes next.See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 to leave London to go North. We follow her from place to place, meeting people, losing people, finding people. The plot is near irrelevant though: it is more a meditation on motherhood, on beginnings and endings, on love and loss. All the characters are only referred to by their initials, leaving the reader at a distance and rendering this very personal tale universal.I adored the way this book was told; I enjoyed the juxtaposition of motherhood and the end-times and I found many sentences beautiful beyond words. It was a highly satisfying reading experience - however, I am not sure how much of it will stick with me. The book is too short and sparse to really tell a story and the language while stunning does not help the feeling of detachment. The book is full with metaphors and foreshadowing and mixes the personal and the universal in a highly stylized matter. But sometimes I like books told in style and glitter and beautiful sentences. Here I did.First sentence: "I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain." _____I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Grove Atlantic in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 short, sparse paragraphs, with quotes from the book of Genesis, creation and the flood, interspersed between certain segments. This was done so well, but there was one hurdle I could not overcome. The constant use of initials, bugged me to no end, and also made this short book confusing, trying to sort out and remember who was who. Possibly this was done to show that in a society collapse, an environmental disaster, names no longer matter, only survival does, but for me it lessened the impact of the story bring told.I am not sorry I read this, it had important issues to convey, and many reviewers did not find the same impossibility of jumping through the hurdle that I could not. Judge for yourself.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 devastating floods leaving London under water and surrounding areas in danger, there was for me an innate understanding that it was brought out by mankind, by perhaps a lack of acknowledgement of the causes of climate change. Our narrator gives birth at the beginning of the story and immediately I felt the hope and beauty of this set against what was happening. The imminent danger of the water, the food shortages, and the instinct for survival, for themselves and the new baby Z , is the impetus for moving north to her husband R's family. It is here that the direness of the circumstances which up until this point seem removed, hit home . The world around them is flooding and society has fallen apart. People are lost to "the disturbances" looking for food and to survive they must move from place to place , shelters and camps . Yet in spite of it all, a new born baby thrives, a woman moves through the beginnings of her journey of motherhood. Right from the beginning I didn't like the use of initials instead of names . Maybe this is a way of making them appear as everyone, anywhere , but for me it removed a level of the connection I want to have with characters in the book I'm reading. Having said that, I loved the structure, short chapters with short paragraphs interspersed with biblical quotes and some lovely lyrical lines from other places. There are beautiful passages of a new mother's awareness of the baby she holds in her arms. Eerie and haunting, a little hopeful, this is a warning call in what could happen. I’m looking forward to what Megan Hunter will do next. I received an advanced copy of this book from Grove Atlantic through NetGalley.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”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 !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”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 a miscalculation.R returns from the mountain hours after their son is born, they name him Zeb, but he is forever after referred to as Z. Z – the sound of soft slumber. Forced to leave their apartment soon after Z’s birth, they go to the home of R’s parents, where they stay a while in their countryside home. Eventually they leave; they need to keep going to find a place of their own. A place where the means to survive are not quite so meager. ”At first there was only the sea, only the sky. From the sky came a rock, which dropped deep into the sea. A thick slime covered the rock, and from this slime words grew.”As the world they knew grows more distant from the life they are living, Z grows, as well. An infant whose daily, weekly, monthly changes are visible, a living reminder of the hope that comes with new beginnings. Interspersed are snippets of apocalyptic projections, some are biblical in nature with a mixture of various cultural myths of creation thrown in, all read as though they were written with a heavenly touch. However, there are some exceptions in this novel where the writing is overwrought and some exceptions where, to me, a chosen phrase makes little sense. A cautionary tale about climate change, an ode to the bond of a mother and child, to the bonds we form to help us better weather these tumultuous days. A reminder that, sometimes, in order to get where we want to go we need to find a way to make a new beginning.Pub Date: 14 Nov 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Grove Atlantic / Grove Press
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  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’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 ‘’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 concerned, it managed to enter my personal Holy Trinity of dystopian novels.The story starts with a birth, the eternal symbol of life, hope and continuation. An unnamed couple is one of the few remaining parents of a hospital before it’s forced to close down. Why?Because terrible floods have been plaguing the land and London has become almost uninhabitable. There is no electric power, no internet, no television, no work and food has become scarce. They abandon their flat in order to find shelter in camps, in areas that are still dry. The odyssey of coping with a new way of life is the heart of the novel. ‘’Our city is here,somewhere, but we are not.’’ How does someone find the strength to carry one once everything is lost? Where do we find courage to survive and, perhaps, build our lives again? One of the most powerful motives- if not THE most powerful- is the welfare of our children. The mother, who is our sole eyes and ears in the entire story, finds comfort in the company of other mothers who try to provide for their newborns, and in watching her own son grow day by day. Little Z is blissfully unaware of the situation and discovers the world through his own instinct with his mother’s help.One of the ways she implores to keep her sanity is going back, retreating in childhood memories. ‘’Once someone knocked me over. An accident, I presumed. He didn’t look back.’’ Humanity lies at the heart of the story. Why does she say ‘’presumed’’ to refer to a past incident? An accident we all have faced, especially when commuting daily. Is the spreading of inhumanity and personal isolation one of the signs and causes of disaster? Perhaps we need to face a universal catastrophe in order to realise how wrong we have been, how imprisoned in our microcosm? The mother doesn’t answer her own questions, she contemplates, tries to find something that could possible make sense and hold on until a new day dawns.To talk about themes, characters and language in this book seems to me dry and completely unnecessary. There is no dialogue, only short sentences that reminded me of the best examples of existential poetry. And yet, in two short paragraphs there is more character development than we meet in whole chapters in other books. The mother’s voice is completely humane, sometimes desperate,most of the times calm and acute.The story of Noah from the Old Testament, the Greek myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha are constantly used in the narration. Most civilizations have their own myth of the Flood as a punishment for the avarice of men. Perhaps, mankind has been afraid of the power of water since the beginning of Time, perhaps we’ve known the damage we cause to everything that was given to us. There are also many references to myths of the Creation from many different cultures.I don't think that anyone who is going to read this novel will manage to remain indifferent. It is a beautiful book, with a moving, profound and hopeful conclusion. A breath of fresh air in the zombie-filled, tortured and abused Dystopian Genre, a novel that we’re going to discuss for years to come…ARC kindly provided by Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an honest review.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    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 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, so does her ability to maintain a complete thought. Most of this book revolves around watching her baby grow and the normalcy of his development contrasted with how the outside world has changed. I'm sure the choppy writing was meant to symbolize what was happening. But for me, it just irritated. It was all I could do to finish this and the only reason I did is that it's a very short book. My thanks to netgalley and Picador for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    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 end...an 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 old...world, water is flooding the country, and struggle for survival is apparent. A search 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 end...an 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 old...world, water is flooding the country, and struggle for survival is apparent. A search for food...family members go missing. A search for shelter family disappear. Baby Z and mother give each other comfort.New friends are made...then left behind. The search is on for the missing...to reconnect.What really happened...we don't know...can only imagine.It's THE END WE START FROM. Frightening is the strange new world.Unique narration. Wish I could rate this one 3.5 Stars...bc I'm still not sure.Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Peter Boyle
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 with husband R and baby Z in order to escape the "Gulp Zone." They make it to the house of R's parent's in the country which is safe, but contains limited supplies. Food is scarce and people are desperate. This young family will have to battle against all odds to survive in an unforgiving, alien landscape.Great, yet another dystopian tale, I hear you say. Well what sets this story apart is the writing style. It has quite a poetic lean and there are some striking turns of phrase, as Hunter imagines the fallout to such a crisis. The hungry survivors of the flood "have started to look like models, all visible angles." The silence in a deserted house is described as "a textured, grainy quiet, a thickness to to stumble through." The narrator awakes on another uncertain morning "still crusty-eyed and climbing out of dreams."But not all of it works, and there were lines that baffled me. "The idea came as a miniaturized image, a crisp packet in the oven." Not quite sure what that one is about. And "the stacked supply in the cupboard that grew shorter every day, like a reverse child" just feels plain awkward to me. It's all very vague and mysterious, and to be honest I would have appreciated a little more depth and detail. The whole story is only 160 pages long and it needs more meat on its bones. It works best when it explores the joys and fears of motherhood, and the innocence of a growing baby, oblivious to the turmoil unfurling around him. In patches, The End We Start From is a haunting, lyrical parable about climate change but I finished it underwhelmed and disillusioned about what might have been.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 in to.Each character was not named and, instead, only graced with an initial to divide them from other characters. This had a two-fold effect on me, as a reader. It made my affinity with the individual characters decrease, and yet heightened the sense of reality about the events taking place. A name denotes an individual, and by taking away the character's individuality away, it could be anyone this book was focusing on. It made their horror and fear my own. It also made them seem more two-dimensional and unreal, and it was hard to separate these two conflicting feelings.The reasoning behind the events that occur is another of the many things withheld from the reader, along with the lack of character names. This made the book a dually sparse and easy, as well as an intricate and demanding, read.The sparsity of the text is where the power of it stems. It is unique, in that respect. But this sparsity is also what distanced me from so much of the story. These conflicting feelings haunted both my overall enjoyment of the entire reading and my understanding of every aspect of the plot. It is also the reason for my middle-of-the-road rating, as I am utterly unaware on where my feelings on this should lay.
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  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 dialogue. It's all very stripped back and almost lacking in coherence... Until you realise that's the point. The story is about the confusion. It's about the pressure of being a new mother and of being recognised as a person separate from the aspect of motherhood. It's also a story of survival and disaffection. A story of who we truly are when all the accoutrements of life are stripped away and we are left with the most basic of human emotion. The prose is very simple and almost spartan, but it is this relatively laconic nature of the story that makes it all the more beautiful. The pacing is sumptuous; I was always eager to keep reading, to know more and therefore I happily devoured this in one sitting.a very positive three and a half stars*A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Grove Atlantic, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 initial and have no name. The mother needs to keep going, and as she does she bears witness to the cycle of her baby's life. She calls him Z and her life and his go through various places and stages as time and life cycles do. She loves him, he depends on her. She feeds his body, he feeds her soul. She provides him warmth and he provides her solace.This was a strange tale, one that said more to motherhood than to any disaster facing this planet. Set in England, an island nation, it pointed to the fact that no matter how much things change, a mother will always take care of her child and see to his/her survival the best and only way she knows how. Read through the courtesy of NetGalley and Grove Atlantic, Grove Press
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 of this possibly happening is not lost on me here. The End We Start From can best be described as a bare bones distant cousin to Station Eleven, illuminating a dystopian society beautifully, as the words come across as art. Megan Hunter accurately portrays human emotion in dealing with conflict and natural uprising in times of adversity. This story is relatively short and can be finished in one sitting. If you need a quick read for your daily commute, lunch break, or cardio session; this one could be a contender for you. Thank you Grove Atlantic/Grove Press for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. It was a pleasure.
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  • Marjorie
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 may soon be covered in water. This is a hauntingly beautiful novella that I was totally captivated by. Just the author’s brilliant capture of early motherhood is enough to make this one a winner. But the suspense of the ongoing flooding adds such a touch of horror that I was dismayed at the prospect of these lovely people. The author has managed to pack an enormous amount of emotion into such few words. This is an amazing accomplishment and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead from Ms. Hunter. Most highly recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    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.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 story, there was too much left unsaid for me to be able to really connect with this on an emotional level. London is submerged underwater, the unnamed narrator gives birth to a baby, she and her husband are separated, and I should care, but I don't.Hunter's prose is worth mentioning as it is undoubtedly this novella's biggest strength. It's poetic and lyrical, incisive and creative... but strong prose isn't enough to elevate this past 3 stars. Bottom line: I finished this book and thought 'what exactly was the point of that?' There just wasn't anything particularly unique or innovative about this story. Reading these 160 pages wasn't an entirely unpleasant way to spend my time, but I can't say it made much of an impression on me. I have a feeling that when I look through the books I read in 2017 at the end of the year, I'm going to see this one and say 'wait, what was that again?'Thank you to Netgalley, Grove Atlantic, and Megan Hunter for the electronic copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 about the characters and their situation. I would have liked to see more character development and more detail in the story; however, I can appreciate the abstractness of the human situation under difficult circumstances.Thanks to Megan Hunter and Grove Atlantic through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars rounded upThis 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 3.5 stars rounded upThis 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 characters are referred to be initials. Her partner is R and the baby when he arrives, Z. There are some similarities with The Road as the family have to leave their home because of flooding and move to higher ground. The narrator is quite reflective about the situation:“Home is another word that has lost itself. I try to make it into something, to wrap its sounds around a shape. All I get is the opening of my mouth and its closing, the way my lips press together at the end. Home.”This is also a reflection on motherhood as much of the interaction is between the narrator and Z:“This is how his body curls: like a shrimp, like a spring, like a tiny human yet to straighten out “This is as much a prose poem as a novel and the review in The Independent makes this point:“This isn’t a novel in which exposition is a problem; it’s more Virginia Woolf does cli-fi, impressions of a scene rather than detailed depiction”Cli-fi is not a term I was familiar with, but I suspect it won’t be the last time I hear it! I am less sure about the Woolf comparison, although I see the point stylistically:“After the flood, the fire. I am losing the story. I am forgetting.”However for me it doesn’t have the depth and solidity of Woolf. There is a sense of movement though as the narrator moves from London and ends up on a remote Scottish island and then back to London again as the waters settle. R disappears on some vague quest about halfway and the focus centres even more on the mother/baby relationship:“Z is real, with his tiny cat skull and sweet-smelling crap. The news is rushing by. It is easy to ignore.”We follow Z through his first year, movements, steps, crawls and so on.Inserted into the text are brief italicized sentences. These are based on various creation myths:“The first one’s bones were made of branches, his blood of rivers, his eyes of moons, his spirit of fire.”“The otherworld will be beneath the ocean, forty thousand fathoms below. In that place there will be no pain, nor death, nor mourning.”Those two were picked at random. I think they are meant to act as counterpoints to the destruction, but they tended to blend into the whole. This was interesting but ultimately the insubstantialness of it meant there was a lack of potency. The film rights have already been sold, so I wonder if the visualization of it will add to the power. Nevertheless it was interesting, especially for the reflections on motherhood rather than the dystopia.
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  • Catherine ♡
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating: 1.5Agh. 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 Actual Rating: 1.5Agh. 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 universe. In fact, if I hadn't read the blurb that said that this book followed a newborn as London was flooded, I'm not sure I would have known that that was what was happening.In addition to that, it felt really hard to connect with the characters because they were named only by a single alphabet letter, and sometimes I got confused with who was who. Understandably all of these aspects come together to make a disconnected and jarring writing style that parallels the story's situation, but it was simply a little hard to understand for me.If you're looking for some really beautiful quotes to write down, then go for The End We Start From. But if you want a true dystopian with harrowing action, look elsewhere.
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  • Jessi ♥️ H. Vojsk
    January 1, 1970
    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
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 is there. The world is in a crisis. Rapidly rising floodwaters, refugee camps, lack of supplies, panic and looting. And among it all, a woman gives birth to her first child. She and her baby boy Z are separated from her husband R. (Yes, everyone is only referred to by a single initial and it's annoying.)My chief problem with this book is it's very flat. Emotionally, it doesn't feel any different, no matter if she's on a boat, wishing for more food in the camp, or nursing baby Z. It all feels so grey. The plot doesn't move up and down, doesn't swell or fade. It just IS and that's boring to read.There were also some very strange words and phrases used. Occasionally there'd be a phrase that would make me think, 'Dang, that's lovely.' But mostly it was just weird phrases like, "words float up the stairs like so many childhood letter magnets," "The crap floats down the plug like tiny beasts." and "from the nipple head-twist urine-musk times...". At one point baby Z is referred to as a "small flesh-pocket."It just makes no sense to me. I've read plenty of novellas and enjoyed them, (see A House at the Bottom of a Lake, Gator Bait (which also made my list of weird reads), Sour Candy, and The Grownup), but all those managed a wallop of a story in minimal pages. The End We Start From doesn't have a wallop. It just is.It's an impactless bowl of oatmeal, when what you really crave is flavor, spice, and satisfaction.*All quote snippets taken from digital review copy*Thanks to Edelweiss and Grove Atlantic for the DRC
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  • Aentee
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Mridu aka Storypals
    January 1, 1970
    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 - http://storypals.net/book-report-the-...
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  • ABookwormWithWine
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐ / 5My reviews and (maybe) some other random thoughts can also be seen at https://readingbetweenwinessite.wordp...____________________________________________________________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 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5My reviews and (maybe) some other random thoughts can also be seen at https://readingbetweenwinessite.wordp...____________________________________________________________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 quickly. It was such an odd little book, and it was an interesting choice for the author to chose to use first initials as opposed to actual names. I'm assuming because the names were not the important thing in this book. Also, short, abrupt sentences make it a very strange and unique read. Final Thought: I can't say that I regret reading this book since it is a novella and so short, but it did leave me feeling a bit of "what was the point of this?". Again though, if you are a fan of lyrical, poetic prose laden with metaphors then you are going to like this one. I would say fans of poetry would probably like this one more than me as well. I like some poetry, but I don't usually read it.
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  • Erin Clemence
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 flood has (what we can assume) destroyed their home. They now must travel with their young son from commune to commune (or something like that) , forging new friendships while watching their son grow. The promise is there but the format leaves a lot to be desired. The writing is choppy and I understand that it is told that way intentionally, to reinforce to the readers the sporadic nature of the current time in the novel. However, I found it really hard to follow and it left me with more questions than answers. I read the entire novel in two days (it was very short, the choppy writing did provide that at least) and still had no idea what happened, how it happened, what happened afterward, etc. (Isn’t this the idea of a story after all?) The characters were referred to by letters instead of names, which was creative until there is more than one person in a plotline, then it just gets confusing. This novel was a quick read (as mentioned) and because of this, I was able to read it in (nearly) one sitting. I was able to quickly form bonds with the characters and take an interest in their welfare. However, since I don’t know what happened to them at the end, this also makes me feel a little cheated. “The End We Start From” by Megan Hunter has incredible promise, and I hope that Hunter produces more novels in the future, as her creativity is very evident in her poetic writing. However, I hope she sticks to a regular novel format (as boring as that may seem), that allows her readers to experience the full novel, and not just snippets.
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    4.5*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 4.5*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. What follows is a sort of "Baby's First Album" with a post-apocalyptic twist, the child's perfectly natural struggle for survival mirrored by society's attempt to adapt to a new way of life. The link between the two lies in the recurring water imagery - Z's birth in the very first page is marked, of course, by a "breaking of the waters" ("I am waterless, the pool of myself spreading slowly past my toes") reflecting the ominous "waters" which are threatening the city. The novella is, in a way, a celebration of new motherhood but, thanks to its dystopian backdrop, it eschews sentimentality leaving only a warm, essential humanity.Going through earlier reviews of this book, I noted that several readers were put off by the spareness of the prose; others were struck by a sense that the premise of the novel was not fully realised. Admittedly, several details are left undefined and the plot (if one can speak of one) could be summarised in a half-page paragraph (in large font...). However, I felt that Hunter was aiming for the pregnant conciseness of poetry, preferring metaphor and allusion to a more typical working-out of characters and storyline. (She is, after all, a published poet). Indeed, I often found myself re-reading certain passages, delighted by a surprising image or turn of phrase. I also think that there is in the writing a deliberate attempt to reference mythological storytelling, and to make of this tale a sort of universal parable. Thus, although we get to share some of the characters' most intimate moments, they are only identified by a letter (for instance, the narrator's husband is "R", his parents "G" and "N"). We know that the boy is named "Zeb" (which, incidentally, means "wolf", surely no coincidence) but from then on he is referred to as "Z" (last letter of the alphabet - possibly, the end we start from?) The mythical element is also emphasized through strange italicized passages interspersed in the text, which seem to mimic Biblical apocalyptic imagery - just to give a taste:In these days we shall look up and see the sun roaming across the night and the grass rising up. The people will cry without end, and the moon will sink from viewI read the book in a couple of sittings but I suspect that, like poetry, it merits to be revisited for it to further reveal its mysteries.
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  • Jane Shambler
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 swallowed by water. Then you get the journey of mother and child escaping the flood waters going from refugee camp to refugee camp. Finally arriving back home and being reunited with the husband/father. Sounds good right?The book basically describes the babies first year in the world and how he relates to the world ending on his ability to take his first steps. The story left me feeling disjointed and now I've finished I am still waiting for something. I just don't know what.I think finishing this book was an achievement but I am also pleased I did finish it. Again I can't explain why. Have a go I did. Enjoy!*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley*
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 book is sparse, and the author doesn’t waste a single word. For me the scenes were easy to imagine as the story flows from the woman’s perspective effortlessly. I almost want to compare this to THE HANDMAID’S TALE as it was vague but gave just enough details to tell a story. Of course, this story is more complete in my opinion as we see where the characters end up and it is much more linear.The only thing I didn’t like was the brevity of the story. I did enjoy where the story left off but I would have read and enjoyed another 400 pages of a story like this, written in this way. I would love to read more from this author and I highly recommend this book.
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  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 it is, but for some reason I think it works. I’m a GIANT fan of dystopian novels and exquisite prose so I LOVED IT! It really doesn’t matter how big the book is if the writing is lovely. I loved the juxtaposition of disaster, love, loss, and motherhood. A very thought provoking read. Just BEAUTIFUL.
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  • Maddie C.
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 specifically free-verse, as most of the text doesn’t follow any rhythmic or metric restraints), we follow our protagonist, a pregnant woman who gives birth to her child right as the crisis starts. The central theme is motherhood, exploring a relationship between mother and son, and how the current situation affects the child’s upbringing and growth. It could be an interesting thing to examine but, while this is the central theme of the book, it felt under-explored and repetitive, bringing nothing particularly new to survival stories and mother’s instinct and force when their child is/might be in danger.As a parallel, it also explores the main character relationships with the father of her son, R (every character is identified only with a capital letter, the first of their name) and how the crisis affects him specifically, though it’s all reported from her perspective so there’s no real room for depth, only speculation.It’s a very short book/novella, but the first third of the book was very tortuous to get through. I got lost in the middle when it started to get more interesting, but the pacing and plot quickly fell apart again, making this 160 page book feel way too much work for the little amount of enjoyment I got out of it.All in all, this is an odd little novella whose concept incited some curiosity but the execution really fell short. In a work of “poetry”, the writing was also incredibly flat and flavourless, only broken up by some flashes of interesting metaphors that nonetheless didn’t feel fresh nor inventive.
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