The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker
|The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Quick! The asteroids are about to hit! What do you grab? Who do you save? Where do you go? This story left me thinking hard about my emergency bag requirements, and with the thought that maybe I should try a little gentle jogging now and then, just in case...|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: Del Rey|
|External links: Author's website|
When the end of the world as we know it comes, Edgar is totally unprepared. Still slightly drunk from drowning his sorrows, and in a panic, he throws random items, including his daughter, down into his cellar, and then he and his family eke out a nightmarish existence in the dark until their supplies run out. Fortunately they are lucky, and they are rescued from the cellar. As they emerge back into the world they see the ruin and disaster around them, caused by hundreds of large asteroids hitting the earth. Large areas of the country have been destroyed. Groups of people left alive scavenge houses and towns, turning feral, trying to find what's left to help them to survive. Edgar's family are rescued by a small remaining army unit, but he and his wife and children become separated, and so begins Edgar's desperate race to reach his loved ones, who are hundreds of miles away, before they leave on an evacuation ship for another country.
Edgar was not my favourite character, it has to be said. He isn't very likable, and I struggled with his role as the hero of the story when he seemed anything but heroic. He is a pretty poor father, and an even worse husband. He's stuck in a pit of feeling sorry for himself for his dreadful, terrible, tiring life, though much of his misery seems to be of his own making. He does go on a journey through the story, both literally and emotionally, and so by the end I did at least understand him, even if I still didn't like him very much. I sometimes struggle with books when I don't like the main character, and there were a few moments when I wasn't sure I cared either way if Edgar survived the end of the world or not!
The plot, however, kept me reading even though I wasn't a fan of Edgar. About a third of the way in the story drags a little, and I was frustrated that it takes a long time before the title makes any kind of sense at all. Fortunately however, for the story, if not for the characters experiencing it, things suddenly start to go wrong in all sorts of unexpected ways and, in a post-apocalyptic thriller, that's exactly what needs to happen to keep the story moving. At this point the story, for me, became a much more compelling read and the events varied from being exciting, violent, disturbing and moving. I'm not sure that I was exactly on the edge of my seat as I read, but I did read longer than I should at bedtime whenever I needed to see what on earth would happen next!
As Edgar's journey develops he meets a variety of different characters along the way, some repellant, some very likeable. He faces a variety of challenges too, and it was these twists and turns that I found most interesting about the story. The dystopian world that Walker creates is dark and forbidding, and I found myself thinking about how I would try to survive if I faced this situation, and what friendships and alliances might come in useful. Edgar needs to be on his guard, at all times, and struggles with issues of trust, yet for all of his unlikeable character traits, he never once gives up on trying to reach his family. Even in the face of a seemingly impossible distance to cover, he tries. In one section he and his running club come across a rather strange set up with a group of people who have taken over an area of a city. I loved that whilst there is no running water, no electricity, no shops or health service or anything civilised they have still managed, somehow, to set up a takeaway!
Without wanting to give anything away, I found the ending to be an interesting surprise. It's difficult to talk about without spoilers, so I shall simply say that I liked it! Overall, if you're hoping for a lot about running, you may be disappointed. The running doesn't start until quite a long way into the story, and then I felt it wasn't quite what I'd been expecting. If you like to root for your hero, then again you might find it a little challenging, though there are plenty of other more heroic characters to cheer for. Look beyond Edgar's selfishness, and just revel in the story itself, as although it's not perfect and I had lots of quibbles with it, this is still a book that I really enjoyed.
Further reading suggestion: You might also want to try The Execution Channel by Ken MacLeod or this young adult novel that deals with another catastrophic event that changes society as we know it: Ashes by Ilsa Bick
You can read more book reviews or buy The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker at Amazon.com.
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