I bought this book in 2014 prior to it being picked up by a traditional publisher- I'm not sure that much has changed about it, but keep in mind that my edition may differ from the one that's being sold currently.
This one had me at its title- I liked the idea of a slightly irreverent take on the post apocalyptic genre, so I picked it up. Despite it having a different cover now, I really like the old one (as pictured to the left)- it tells more about the book than you'd think, and it's eye-catching.
Although this book is on the longer side, it didn't take very long to read due to great pacing on the author's part. It was difficult to put down because I kept wondering about what might happen next to the main character, Edgar, and his family members and friends. In a way this becomes semi military dystopian after the first quarter of the book, but then it bounces back to grim moments of seeing the end of the world, offset by dark humor.
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Edgar Hill is 35 and caught in his own headlock. Overweight slob, under-performing husband and reluctant father – for Ed, the world may as well have already ended.
'So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief. His world becomes simpler, life becomes easier, things might just be looking up.
'But nothing's ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force. Suddenly he finds himself facing a gruelling journey on foot across a devastated United Kingdom. Accompanied by a group of misfits that include a large, hairy tattoo artist and an old man who claims to have run around Australia, Edgar must race against time and overcome his own short-comings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a very strange council estate, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever.
'A vivid, gripping story of hope, long-distance running and how we break the limits of our own endurance.'
Despite not being very keen on Edgar at first, he grew on me- he's so human at times that it hurts. His wife and children aren't given as deep of characterization, but the friends he meets along the way are. Another reader mentioned being upset with a certain twist of fate for one of my favorite characters in this book, but I let it slide given that strange things do sometimes happen to those who should be better prepared. I was more impressed with some of the side characters than I was with Edgar at points, but their stories aren't fully realized in this tale. I was slightly disappointed by that.
I can see that this book might appeal more to those who are runners than your average human being, but the character of Edgar might also grate on runner's nerves (as he did on mine). At the start of the book, he whines, and by the end (not a spoiler) he learns to whine slightly less. His whining does provide some entertainment value to this book, but at the same time, when he goes from super whiner to less of a super whiner who suddenly has these philosophical insights that you know are beyond him in the course of the book, I found myself with the abrupt urge to whine about it.
The End of the World Running Club is a fun post-apocalyptic romp that tries a bit too hard to convince you it's serious (and/or higher brow literary fiction) by the end. This change in tone gave me a bit of a headache because while I do think funny books can delve deep, I didn't find much of anything enlightening about Ed's journey... but keep in mind at the moment I'm having difficulty just walking, so I may consider my own problems a lot bigger than his. If you like books that can be funny and grim in the same moment, but may come with the detriment of a whiny character, you might want to try this for your next read.
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good post apocalyptic journey that went a bit too far.
Age Advisory: Ages 16+ for violence, gore, and swearing. Warning- may cause whining.
Page Count: 422 pages