Book Reviews

The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn

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List Price: £12.99

 

Paperback: 304 Pages.

Published: 17 May 2018 by Bloomsbury USA

ISBN: 1635571944

EAN: 9781635571943

When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?

Reviews

2.0 Stars2.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Strange

Set in a post-apocalyptic world we follow the story of Mia and other residents of a community called Zion. 95% of the world's population has disappeared in an event called the Rending. We are several years after this event and most people appear to have settled into communities although there are still some travellers including Michael who arrives at Zion one day. Following the Rending there had been no babies born. However, now the women in Zion start to fall pregnant and give birth to objects rather than babies.

I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction so can handle being dropped into a world after some sort of event. Usually it is explained - a virus, a war, a natural disaster or similar. All we know about this is that people disappeared. All at the same time leaving only around 5% of the world's population - though I did wonder how the people in Zion knew this quite so specifically - how did they know that it had happened all over the world? So on the book goes taking approximately the first third to tell us very little about the event, nothing about the immediate aftermath effect on the world & introducing the characters. A slow start especially as the characters are not particularly three dimensional.

Then the book gets just plain.........weird. There really isn't another word for it. The women of Zion are falling pregnant and having babies. When the blurb said they were giving birth to inanimate objects I presumed some sort of mutation or new virus which had turned the babies into fosillied human matter or similar. What I actually got was people giving birth to actual items - the first birth was to a plastic doll. Okay - strange. I am sure there is a reasonable explanation. There wasn't. Women then gave birth to ornamental wire birds, a honey bear, vase and - beyond comprehension - a pair of chopsticks. What? Really? At this point I had decided that that this was either an allegory and I was missing the point or a spoof book poking fun at post-apocalyptic fiction. Having completed the book I presume it was the former but I still don't get it! From what I gather from the story and the book write ups this is something to do with discovering yourself amongst other questions. Sorry but the point has totally passed me by.

The book continues with a story about Michael who lures Zionite Lana away to be an exhibit at his human zoo. This was actually quite a reasonable section of the book as I could believe the concept of a human zoo. What I couldn't deal with was Michael wanting the "babies" of Zion and the lengths they took to keep these inanimate objects from him.

Leaving aside the whole weirdness of the babies, this is a basically mediocre book. The characters are not particularly well constructed and the plot has more holes than a colander.

I am not well versed on philosophy. I read my books primarily for entertainment. I am quite happy to learn from fiction and frequently have cause to stop and think about what is being said in stories. However, this was just a step too far. Understanding what a character's life is saying to you in a book is fine but understanding women giving birth to chopsticks was just beyond me.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley

 
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