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The End and Other Beginnings Book Review

2 stars

I was disappointed by The End and Other Beginnings. Full of sci-fi short stories, it had the potential to be a great read, especially with such a beautiful cover (but I guess that old adage–you can’t judge a book by its cover–is a cliche for a reason ;).

One of my main problems with this book was that I didn’t empathize with most of the characters. They just weren’t characters I could root for, except perhaps the main character in The Hearkener, my favorite story. I either couldn’t understand the choices they made or agree with those choices.

The first two tales also didn’t have great world building, which is one of my favorite aspects of fantasy/sci-fi. I didn’t get a feel for a futuristic world, and the MCs kept describing places (like McDonald’s) that are part of our current world. The latter stories held better-crafted futuristic worlds, but shouldn’t the first one or two stories be the best so as to better lure and hook the reader into the novel?

One of the stories wasn’t even a short story, which was frustrating. It was ripped out of something longer (which I’m not sure actually exists or not) and didn’t contain a resolution–is there anything more frustrating to a reader? It was a potentially good story, so maybe Roth will publish it full-length one day. But the piecemeal story still shouldn’t have been labeled a ‘short story’. This might be my biggest complaint of this book.

In her acknowledgements, Roth mentioned that Marie Lu and Neal Shusterman–both excellent writers I admire–had taken a look at the early drafts of the book. So why didn’t it shine more? I suppose we’ll never know…

The End and Other Beginnings was a bowl of pickle ice cream–a flavor that just shouldn’t be an option. Needless to say, I’m taking a break from Roth for a while and hope her Carve the Mark duology sits better in my stomach.

What book(s) have you read that didn’t live up to your expectations? Did you keep reading them or not? 

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