The End Of The World Running Club
by Adrian J Walker
Genres: Fiction / Thriller
“You want to know how it feels to run thirty miles. You want to know how it feels to run thirty miles straight through mud and across scorched earth, dodging sinkholes and crawling beneath toppled trees, when you’ve already run the length of the country, when your ankle’s sprained, your fingers are broken, you’re blind in one eye and you’ve only had half a tin of baked beans for breakfast.”
Ed is a 30-something male, married, with two small children, and already in something like a mid-life crisis. It’s clear, through the way he drinks and tries to steal any time away from the house that he can get, that he’s not satisfied with where he’s found himself.
Then one day, the whole world changes. A spattering of asteroids hit Earth and devastate whole cities. Most people die. Life as it’s known, stops. But Ed and his family survive, just. When they are rescued after weeks holed up in their cellar, they are taken to an emergency evacuation centre to bunk down with other survivors. Everyone must do their bit to pitch in. Ed volunteers to assist with patrols and scavenger hunts, which also provides him with opportunities to get away from the family. But then a patrol he’s on returns to the centre to find everyone gone, including Ed’s family, taken by helicopter to the coast where ships await to ferry survivors to South Africa, and the chance to start again.
Ed, along with five other left-behind comrades, pursue the rescue mission on foot to reunite with the other survivors. Before too long, they are running in an effort to cross the country in time to get to the boats before they depart, and an unlikely but desperate running-club is born.
I LOVED this book! It ticked all the right boxes for me – a post-apocalyptic setting, well-formed characters, fast-moving plot with twists and turns, symbolism and relatable themes, thoughts to ponder, and a satisfying ending.
My summary above seems quite long, but once I started to note down the main plot points of the story, I realised how full it actually is. A lot happens in this book, and I think it was because of that that it kept my interest the whole time, whenever I would sit down to continue on with the book I would wonder what was going to happen next.
The main character, Ed, starts out as quite unlikeable. Because of his selfishness and ignorance, his family very nearly almost doesn’t survive the asteroid pummelling. Even when they narrowly escape death, he still bemoans the life he’s found himself in and doesn’t appear grateful at all. It’s only when his family is taken away from him, that he changes his tune and truly comes to realise that he does want them in his life and would do anything for them. And by the time he does do the unthinkable to get to them, we’ve come to hope for him and cheer him on.
Even though this book is set in a world and scenario that hasn’t eventuated in our time (and hopefully doesn’t!), I felt like the characters, and their decisions and the way they process their situation, were all honest and believable. Maintaining realism in a book where the plot is determined by the choices of the characters, is something I don’t always notice if it’s going right, but if it goes wrong…..boy does it give me the irrits!
If you’re just after a really good read, something that will keep you turning the pages and leave you satisfied, then this would be a great choice. I can’t fault it.
Did not like it – It was ok – Liked it – Really liked it – It was amazing
*I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*