The End of the World Running Club was another ebook I purchased on a whim after, I can only assume, browsing an apocalypse hashtag. I seem to have been in two broad genre moods this year: the end of life as we know it and family thriller. The End of the World Running Club kind of combines both as the narrator, Ed, literally runs across the United Kingdom in search of the family he has, until this point, never really appreciated.
I love a good apocalypse story, especially one that deals more with the human response to the end of life as we know it than ones that are simply about survival. Give me asteroids and rampant flu over zombies any day. The End of the World Running Club certainly deals with that human response. Asteroids have ravaged the earth’s surface with the northern hemisphere mainly affected. In Scotland, Ed barely manages to get his family to the safety of their cellar before the asteroids strike and when they are finally rescued by a military unit the landscape has completely changed and bodies litter the streets.
But Ed’s real journey begins after they are taken to a military base and he is separated from his family. With them on the South West British coast about to be taken away to safety Ed has a limited time to get to them before he loses them forever. Along with a motley crew of strangers, including a man who claims to have run across Australia, he literally runs the new landscape of the UK to find them.
I think part of my fondness for apocalypse books that don’t involve flesh eating monsters is that they suit my landscape a lot better. I have a theory that America would survive a zombie apocalypse much easier than Britain because we’re so bloody small, there’s nowhere to hide. Not such an issue when the goal is to get across the length of the country on foot, with the help of minimal failing vehicles on ruined roads, in a matter of days. I won’t give away whether they manage it, but the concept is believable, but extraordinary, enough that a happy ending isn’t guaranteed nor impossible.
It’s an optimistic portrayal of human nature in the face of mass extinction, the end of the world and the knowledge of a life so far not lived well. There’s a lot of reception, love and humour. I’d very much recommend it.