The End Of The World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker (book review).

When the world is running down, make the best of what’s still around’ could be the mantra for the man, in this novel, ‘The End Of The World Running Club’ by Adrian J. Walker.

When several asteroids strike the Earth, it’s the end of the world as we know it and Edgar, who has a young family, finds that despite his pathetic behaviour they have all somehow survived. Being saved by the military completes his own internal humiliation. He is increasingly isolated from his wife and children and finds himself volunteering for missions into the destroyed city of Edinburgh. He’d rather face the chance of sudden death there than his family on a daily basis. Returning from the crumbling and dangerous city, he and his team of volunteers find almost everyone else has been rescued by helicopter and taken to the post. If Edgar wants to see his family, he and his acquaintances must face a dangerous journey across a ravaged land.

‘The End Of The World Running Club’ is a great novel with Edgar as the man who is not really living his life until certain death approaches. Let’s face it, none of us can see that descending object in the sky until it lands on our house. Self-obsessed, with no religion to distract us, we drift through life whilst never really engaging with it, just like our hero.

Using the running that starts for Edgar as a means to an end is inspired. It really sells running as well as being a useful metaphor for a man who runs away from everything in his life. As Edgar travels with his motley group of companions, he learns more about himself and the world along with what living is truly about.

There are some gripping and disturbing visions in this near-future dystopia as we find just how people react to the end of the world. The bleakness of existence is counterpointed with surprisingly warm human relationships and some very grim and gory events, too. This is ‘Survivors’ meets ‘Run Fat Boy Run’.

My concern is that the this remains self-centred with the ending almost confirming this in my mind. Other characters, particularly women, remain peripheral there to serve and illuminate character traits. This is a novel about the ‘one’ and the loneliness of the long-distance runner is never more evident. Accepting this then we can draw our own meaning from the text and I can’t remain annoyed as the book was such a triumph of the human spirit over the darkness within us.

The London Marathon would seem like a hop and a skip after this.

Sue Davies

March 2017

(pub: Del Rey/Ebury Publishing, Random House UK, 2016. 464 page paperback. Price: £ 5.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78503-266-0)

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