A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.
When 95 percent of the earth'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. She has everything under control. Almost.
Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, 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?
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
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Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . This is truly wonderfully delightfully oddly bizarre. It is a post-apocalyptic book wherein 95% of the population disappears with no explanation. This becomes known as the Rending. Along with people, portions of buildings and other items simply disappear as well. Thousands of random objects are mixed together in towering Piles that dot the landscape. In this new world, we are introduced to (and follow) Mira as she and fellow survivors try to make a new life in a settlement called Zion. The novel deals with the current day to day living and then switches into snippets of the past. The main issue appears when the first pregnancy of Zion post-Rending is announced. The settlement is fraught with excitement over the prospect of a new baby. Imagine the surprise when the new baby turns out to be an inanimate object. So what does this mean? Read the novel and find out. Just be prepared that this is a slow burn, heavily detailed story. I found it fascinating, horrifying, and lyrical all at once. I am very glad I read it and have been thinking about it ever since I finished. It is certainly not a book for everyone, but it was perfect for me.
I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic novels and THE RENDING AND THE NEST is a good one. One welcome surprise is that it is free of all of those pesky tropes that this genre seems to peddle fairly often! It is also so much more than just a chilling dystopian story, it looks at deeper topics such as motherhood and faith, and asks the 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 world is an intriguingly bizarre one but the worldbuilding is done excellently. Schwehn clearly has a vivid imagination, women giving birth to inanimate objects is a new one on me! This is a very character driven novel and the author is adept at maintaining their development. I was rather shocked about two things - one, that this is a debut and secondly, that I cared so much for the characters and what became of them. It is entertaining throughout and you race to the end in order to find out what happens, and more importantly, what it all means. There are a couple of issues that I can't overlook, unfortunately. Although the overall premise is amazing, I did feel that there was a lack of information surrounding some of the story, I am someone who likes a bit of background, background that was lacking in a few places here. I did also question whether it was getting too weird for me but then decided that there was no such thing as too weird! I was thinking about this book for a long time after I had finished so perhaps the creepy, bizarre elements were a stroke of genius! After all, the mark of a good book is if you remember it, I know I will remember this one! I feel my time was invested well reading this title and I look forward to reading further publications from Schwehn in the future. Certainly an author to watch! I would like to thank Kaethe Schwehn, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Rending and the Nest was an introspective, philosophical take on dystopian fiction that reminded me somewhat of Station Eleven. The premise of the story was wonderfully intriguing. The writing was evocative and lyrical. Mira, the protagonist of the novel, is trying to find her place in this post-apocalyptic world. Some of the themes, such as finding a place to belong and discovering yourself, would have been more at home in a young adult novel. However, there were others, such as Schwehn’s exploration of motherhood, community, and friendship, that were more mature. Most of the things I didn’t like about this novel for me were due to personal preference. The world building in The Rending and the Nest was intentionally vague. While this served to create a beautiful atmosphere, I prefer more detailed world-building. Not knowing what caused the Rending or how the Piles were created left me feeling dissatisfied. Additionally, the plot was on the slower side because this was very much a character-driven story. Since the antagonist doesn’t show up until halfway through, I felt as it that the pacing was a little off. Although unique, the concept of the Babies was bizarre and slightly disturbing. While I did understand their role in the story, some aspects of the storyline were a bit off-putting. This made it a bit harder for me to relate to the characters at certain points. If you enjoy a speculative fiction novel with a more philosophical bent, you might enjoy Then Rending and the Nest. This was a unique take on a post-apocalyptic world that explored themes such as family, loss, motherhood, and community. It was an interesting read that ultimately didn’t really work for me. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn is a recommended addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. "It wasn’t fire or ice. Wasn’t a virus or global warming or a meteor. Wasn’t an atomic bomb or a tsunami or a sulfurous-smelling ape. It was a Rending, a split. Ninety-five percent of the earth’s population and the vast majority of the animals, food, and goods—gone. We were left with each other and the Piles. Later, the Babies. And we were left without an explanation." Mira lives in a society/town named Zion that was made from the remnants, the scraps, of what was left after the Rendering. Four years after the end of the world as she knew it, Mira now sorts through the piles - literally piles of things left behind - searching for useful items. When Mira's friend Lana announces her pregnancy, it is a time of hope, but when Lana gives birth to an object, and other women follow suit, Mira decides to make nests for these Babies. This helps the mothers by giving the objects a safe resting place and simultaneously allowing them to release their attachment to the objects. When an outsider called Michael appears in Zion, he changes the dynamics of the community and lures Lana away. The Rending and the Nest almost begs for a reread, perhaps with a reader's guide, since there is more going on under the surface, or there could be more going on under the surface, than a quick read reveals. "Rending" itself is an odd word choice. It can mean to tear violently, divide, pull apart, split, or to distress with painful feelings, but it is also pointed out in the book that the name shares a connection with the rending, or tearing, of the curtain in the temple at the moment Jesus died. The tearing symbolized, in part (and I'm not a Biblical scholar), that God had moved out of that physical dwelling and was through with that temple and its religious system. Perhaps this rending signifies a finality with the earth and what it was before, thus the people gone and the piles of stuff left scattered about. (And, okay, I may be stretching here looking for some significance, so we'll set this aside.) What I can say is that the world created by Schwehn is interesting, but enigmatic. We never know what happened or why. And what we do know is puzzling at times. Certainly loved ones are missed. The community of Zion gives people some sense of purpose and belonging, but there is always this conundrum in the background, seeking the ultimate answer when none is given. It is also beautifully written, for all its inscrutability. The plot, which is slow at first, picks up the pace after a third of the way through. The characters are basically well-developed, but broken in some way. The characters reflect the prismatic nature of humans, good and bad, challenging and comforting, open and closed-off. I liked parts of the novel ravenously, and other parts not-as-much. And, while reading, I kept getting this nagging feeling that I was missing something, that some clue or hint, or monumental reveal was just beyond my grasp. So, I liked The Rending and the Nest, but I didn't love it. On the other hand I kept thinking I needed that reading guide to uncover what I was missing, because I was sure I was missing something. The novel felt like a puzzle to me and I was missing one vital piece... I need to reread this one someday Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Bloomsbury USA