• BP Gregory

What Are We Reading?: After the End, by Joshua V Scher


Cover of Joshua V Scher's novel After the End shows two figures walking toward a menacing group in an apocalyptic landscape

Rating:

4/5 Individually wrapped Oreos

Give me the short version:

Hobby prepper Addison gets launched into it when the end of the world really happens

You might think given the unfolding COVID-19 crisis that reading a novel about the aftermath of a deadly virus would be stressful.


However as somebody who loves the mental exercise of watching a horror film and imagining how I'd be a "survivor" (when realistically I'd be a handy snack for the first cannibal off the rank), I found that this was just the kind of escapism I needed.


After the End is riddled with interesting prepper titbits I'd never heard of before such as how to use bush chemistry to make colloidal silver bandages; but not so heavily as to weigh down the plot which trips along at a nice pace. Just when young protagonist Addie's insights threaten to become too neat, along comes Ava with danger at her heels to bring a larger world into his perspective.


Funny little asides abound to keep the story lighthearted when at times it could descend into misery; but it is Addie's deep attachment to family that really grounds the story and brings him to life as a character you want to follow.



Favourite bit:

"They prefer the heat of the day. After thirteen years underground, who can blame them? A lifetime in the dark, feeding off roots and sap, inside a burrow. Hiding away all that time just to avoid predators. Smart strategy. Just outlast the hunters. Patience is all it takes. And resignation to an existence of excavating, coated in mud, sap, and their own anal fluids in a drive to survive. Only to one day, after more than a decade in the dirt, tunnel up to the surface and break free out of their cave of a universe, into the light. The revelation of it all is so powerful, they molt en masse metempsychosis. Leaving abandoned exoskeletons behind, frozen in the moment of rebirth, still clinging to some old piece of bark."