How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.
Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice…
AUTHOR: Lauren James
REPRESENTATION: bisexual MC, biracial (Chinese/British) MC with a hearing impairment in one ear & a trans side character
Well this took me to a place I never, ever expected – what a twist!
I went into this book not knowing anything other than the synopsis, which I didn’t even read fully. Yes, sometimes I like to go a little wild and read a book I know nothing about. Not that it would have made much of a difference for this. You think you know where it’s going, the book leads you on enough that you become certain you know where it’s going, then suddenly, at the last second, it changes course and takes you where you least expect it.
‘We live in the quiet at the end of the world. The slow winding-down clockwork motions before life stops completely. Time is slipping through our fingers.’
The Quiet at the End of the World follows Lowrie and Shen, the youngest – and last ever born – humans on Earth. We follow them learning to navigate a world where, one day, they will see humanity become extinct. With approximately three hundred human beings left on the entire planet, it’s a race against time to try to find a cure to the sickness that rendered all human beings infertile. There is a difference between not wanting children and not being able to have children. The game changes the moment that choice is taken away. This is a story that explores the utter desperation of humans living without a choice and, ultimately, what it means to be human.
Being a teenager is hard. You always believe the weight of the world lies on your shoulders. For Lowrie and Shen, it really is. Lauren James perfectly captures the enormous weight that they carry, whilst simultaneously blending in what it means to be a teenager, with crushes and first kisses and parental frustration. They may be the two last humans to be born but they’re still teenagers at the end of the day. They both have their own likes and dislikes. You have Lowrie who would not be found without her utility belt filled with tools that one may need at any given moment and her obsession with collecting trinkets that showcases humanity throughout the years. Then there’s Shen with his fascination with aliens and his desire to one day be the first person to discover and communicate with alien life. The fate of humanity may depend on them, or they may end up being the ones to see the end of the human race, but Lauren James wrote two very relatable, distinct, and authentic characters.
‘There’s no finish line you need to cross to have lived a worthy life, Lowrie. You don’t need to achieve anything if you don’t want to.’
While the book is told from Lowrie’s perspective, we’re also given a glimpse into the past through a series of social media posts, written by Maya Waverley and with comments from her friends. These excerpts give us an insight into what life was like in the immediate aftermath of the sickness and how humanity coped with its tremendous loss. I adored reading those snippets, I loved seeing how they went from utter denial, to pure despair, to unwavering hope.
This book is filled to the brim with diverse characters. Both Lowrie and Maya are bisexual. We have Rizz, a character from the past, who is a trans man. Then there’s Shen and his family who are Chinese. There is also deaf representation as Shen is hard of hearing in one ear. This representation meant a lot to me as someone who has a deaf mother. It’s very rarely represented much in media. The diversity in this book was natural, which is how it should be done because that’s… life. Life is diverse and diversity is natural.
One of my only complaints about this book is the pacing. It started off slow and, if I’m being completely honest, a little dull, but it picked up quite quickly once I reached the 100 page mark, and it really picked up to the point where I was able to read it entirely within about four hours.
‘I think about the legacy we’re leaving behind all the time: pollution and plastic and buildings and everything else. As one of the last humans, my choices and decisions are imbued with the full weight of the billions of lives that came before me. It feels like my ancestors are watching me, waiting to see how I ensure their legacy, how I remember them.’
The Quiet at the End of the World is one of those books I’m finding extremely difficult to fully articulate my thoughts without running into spoiler territory. What I will say is that this is a wonderfully written sci-fi that truly makes you question what it means to be human. If you’re looking for a book that is diverse, fabulously written, thought-provoking with many twists and turns, then don’t hesitate to add The Quiet at the End of the World to your ever-growing TBRs!
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