Six years after a global pandemic, it turns out that the End of the World was more like a big pause. Coming out of quarantine, 2 billion unsure survivors split between self-governing big cities, hippie communes, and wasteland gangs. When the father of a presumed-dead pop star announces a global search for his daughter, four lives collide: Krista, a cynical event planner; Moira, the ex-pop star in hiding; Rob, a widowed single father; and Sunny, his seven-year-old daughter.
As their lives begin to intertwine, reports of a new outbreak send the fragile society into a panic. And when the government enacts new rules in response to the threat, long-buried secrets surface, causing Sunny to run away seeking the truth behind her mother’s death. Now, Krista, Rob, and Moira must finally confront the demons of their past in order to hit the road and reunite with Sunny — before a coastal lockdown puts the world on pause again.
A Beginning at the End wasn’t your typical end-of-the-world dystopian novel. Apart from a few brief flashbacks, the story doesn’t spend a lot of time with the actual end of the world. Instead, it’s firmly grounded in the rebuilding phase of life after a global pandemic.
My heart went out to Rob. He’s been keeping a huge secret from hid daughter Sunny for years—and now it has caught up with him and he doesn’t know what to do, so he’s floundering. Moira has been running for so long she doesn’t know how to not run. And Krista…well, I didn’t like her for most of the book, as she’s selfish and a bit ugly to people around her, but she fortunately has an epiphany about herself that changes her. I loved that this novel left the large-scale view alone, and focused on a handful of individuals, their lives, and their emotions, as this made everything much more vivid and realistic.
Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. A Beginning at the End is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)