I strangely love reading about end-of-the-world-style novels!
I like the idea of pondering what might happen when the time does come. I love to hear the thoughts/ feelings of the characters as they experience the event, learning that they truly are the only ones left. Breaking free of the lies they’ve been brought up to believe and just facing the fact that everything might one day die, decay, fall apart and eventually cease to exist.
How far would you go to save those you love? Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .
This is my first Lauren James novel I’ve read and it was beautiful! She wrote in a way that was slow and soothing, taking everything one single step, emotion, event at a time, allowing the story to develop in a way that seems so natural and comforting.
There is something about reading about world-ending mystery viruses whilst in the middle of a pandemic. It’s a different kind of feeling.
I’ve been pondering on what to write for this review for a week now. Weird? I know, but it’s actually really hard to discuss a novel that I really truly enjoyed that is practically flawless and delivers such a wonderful message to its readers. I feel that anything I say will do it an injustice.
So I’m just going to talk about it. I’m not going ‘review’ it (whatever that actually means) but I feel like this is different to a review. I’m just going to chat and talk about how wonderful this book is and how valuable the message is that Lauren James delivers to her readers.
The Quiet at the End Of the World is a very character-driven novel. Because of this, it starts off quite slow but hooks you in by giving the backstory and entire premise of the novel – discussing the infertility virus – which in itself is pretty fascinating, and each character has a unique set of interests and activities.
Despite how slow the novel might seem in comparison to other contemporaries, I think it was well-paced as the story really focused on the relationship between our two main characters and how they are coping with the reality of their existence.
As someone who loves found objects with history and souvenirs, I really loved the fact that these two young adults had spent their entire lives so far collecting and trying to uncover pieces of a world long dead and forgotten. Cataloguing and sometimes keeping things they find, researching and trying to put together the past that they will never truly grasp.
From the internet archives to a broken down London, there was just so much for them to discover, yet they truly understand that they will never make sense of the time that was. It’s a discourse I read about online now when we talk about historians maybe eventually finding our memes and completely not understanding our manner of communication.
I think what had me so hooked was the timeline. One, it was super simple to follow which is really pleasing in itself, but it also seemed really off. I won’t be spoiling the ending here but throughout the entire novel, there was frequent mention of decay of the landscape. From crumbling buildings to the flooding in the vault and occasional commentary from our protagonists that things shouldn’t be this rundown.
It was all nice and subtle, because 80 years isn’t enough time for full-on apartment buildings to crumble and fall all on their own, but it’s preceding the events of a population destroying virus, so anything’s possible. Right?
The ending twist really brings it all together and that’s what I really loved about the novel! There were all these perfect little hints that just seem so obvious that something is maybe a little off, but you are reading all of this from our protagonist – Lowrie’s – point of view that there can’t be things about this world that she doesn’t know. Right?
So many questions, yet you think of none of it as Lowrie takes you through her life and you hear about her struggles being not only one of two of the only humans alive but also the only bisexual woman alive (that’s her age). She mentions this multiple times and it really hurts to think about how isolated she might have occasionally felt, despite having her best friend there and an older lesbian couple, there was no one with shared life experience.
Overall, I freaking love this book and the issues it brings up. There is so much more I could talk about but spoilers! So I will shush up now and invite you to message me if you have read, will read, or have any thoughts you’d like to discuss about this novel. I’d be more than happy to continue chatting!
★ Rating ★
I rated this book ★★★★★ (5/5 stars).
Do you like reading apocalyptic/ post-apocalyptic novels?
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