ARC Review: A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

Title: A Beginning at the End
Author: Mike Chen
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Adult
Source: MIRA via Edelweiss 
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: January 14th 2020

How do you start over after the end of the world? Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs. In post-apocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again. Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose. Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.
I still don't have enough words to do this book justice. Wow. Just wow. I love post apocalyptic books and books where society is trying to get back on it's feet after something horrible happens. A Beginning of the End is something fresh in the post-apocalyptic genre. Society is rebuilding from a flu epidemic that killed 5 billion people and left the living traumatized. It's about finding a family when there is no hope and even the darkest moments could have beautiful outcomes. 

The story is told in four distinctive point of views: Moira, Krista, Rob and his daughter Sunny. Each voice is unique and you didn't need to be told what character you were reading from, you just knew. Each character was flawed and imperfect and trying to find their way in a world that was coming back together while it was still falling apart. Each character has their own secrets and regrets that have gotten them to where they are now and that have shaped them into the character they are upon the end of the novel. I do wish however that we did get more chapters from Sunny's POV, granted she is seven but I really enjoyed being in her head. Her reasoning skills, the way she perceived the scraps of what is left of society. 

There is so much I wish to discuss but I am going to leave for the reader to find out. I found it fascinating the society Chen created in the aftermath of this epidemic. The structure of society, safety protocols, quarantines and government programs created to make sure society gets back on its feet and stays there. It's fascinating because this book is 100% plausible and not just a wild work of someone's imagination. (As I read this I thought about the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the many what ifs that could have been if it hadn't been contained.) 

I jump at post-apocalyptic books and though I expected this book to be different (more about the virus, ect.) I am glad that I read the book I did. Chen wrote a beautiful story about people coming together and that family isn't always blood. Society will never be perfect, even when it gets to rebuild itself. But also, that there is always something else out there waiting, another epidemic waiting to come to light. A Beginning at the End will be a book that I will be recommending for a long time to come. If you are looking for a breath of fresh air, this is the book for you. 

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