Genre: Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one’s own story.
When ninety-five percent of the world’s population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can’t afford to lose. Four years after the Rending, Mira has everything under control. Almost.
Then Mira’s best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first in this strange world and a new source of hope for Mira. But Lana gives birth to an inanimate object—and soon other women of Zion do, too—and the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new world begins to fray. As the community wrestles with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world outside Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn’t return, Mira has to decide how much she’s willing to let go in order to save her friend, her community, and her own fraught pregnancy.
Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others—and within ourselves?
The Rending and the Nest has a very intriguing premise. A post-apocalyptic world with a mystery sprinkled with themes of motherhood, survival, and community. Unfortunately, the pacing, writing, and characters were dull.
The Rending and the Nest is a very slow paced book. Schwehn take hers time building the world and main character, Mira. I loved getting intimate details about the world post Rending and Mira as a character, but it took Schwehn almost half the book to accomplish. The synopsis above explains that a man named Michael will arrive thereby creating some plot movement. However, he doesn’t arrive until 41% through the novel. Despite the slow start, I didn’t feel like DNF’ing it. The world and pregnancies were too interesting and shrouded in mystery to put down.
The writing felt overly poetic. It read as if Schwehn was trying her absolute hardest to write as sophisticatedly as possible. The metaphors and similes were jarring and pulled me out of the story rather than flowing smoothly.
I really enjoyed Mira and her best friend, Lana. I was able to connect with them almost immediately. However, the other characters weren’t as well developed or relied on one particular trait to describe them and the way they behaved.
What peaked my interest in this novel the most was The Rending itself. Where did 95% of the population disappeared to? Why did they disappear? Was it random? Were people targeted specifically? None of these questions are answered. There aren’t even hints of an answer within the text. The build up of the mystery of The Rending throughout the novel created suspense and intrigue, but by the end of the novel I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of answers.
Overall, The Rending and the Nest is not for everyone and, apparently, I am not one of those people. It is a unique post-apocalyptic story because of its focus on motherhood, community, and loss, however the story failed to perform after it had caught my attention.
***I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read The Rending and the Nest? What did you think?
Are you planning on reading it?