Book Title: The Rending And The Nest
Author: Kaethe Schwehn
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Dystopian, Speculative Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Pub Date: 02/20/18
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.
This is another one of those books best going in blind; the less you know the better and you should probably come back to this review after you’ve read the book yourself. If you’re wanting more detail minus overt spoilers, continue at your own risk.
How do you write a review of one of the most complex books you’ve read to date? Technically this one isn’t out until the end of February, but I wanted to include it in my Nebulous November challenge (where it fit the bill nicely I might add) so I moved it up my TBR. There is a lot of meat to this story; the plot is intensely intelligent and I’m still wrestling to grasp all the depths of the narrative. For a debut novel, the writing is excellent and almost poetic. I can truly see Schwehn making a name for herself in speculative fiction and being beloved by regular readers of the genre.
“I gave my love a cherry that had no stone
I gave my love a chicken that had no bone
I gave my love a baby with no crying
I gave my love a story that had no end
How can there by a cherry that has no stone?
How can there be a chicken that has no bone?
How can there be a baby with no crying?
How can there be a story with no end?”
– “The Riddle Song”
I feel like it’s ok to mention the following, as it is presented to the reader in the prologue, but this is a very open-ended narrative. There is no explanation given for why the earth is in it’s post-apocalyptic state; we are just told that 95% of the earth’s population has disappeared and since these folks were left without an explanation, so are we. Personally, I enjoyed this set up and found it unique to have this dystopian world where we really don’t know what happened. This added an additional level of suspense and tension as events began to unfold. I hate being so vague, but if you’ve read the blurb then you know as much as you should about the plot going in and will find out for yourself the rest, should you choose to read this book.
Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
– Romans 8:24
While I did have a few issues with the ending, and there were definitely a few spots along the way that lagged for me, the writing was so solid that I never considered giving up. This book touches on themes of motherhood, survival, and community in a way that makes you ponder not only whether it’s truly impossible for us to find ourselves in this place in the future, but also how we could apply these lessons learned in our very real communities. I think most readers would admit to enjoying a plot that centers around a rag tag band of misfits joining together and overcoming hardships, and while this contains elements of that message for sure, it was so much more than that, yet not quite as upbeat.
My struggles with the book were just personal preference on formatting, inclusion/exclusion of information, and pacing. I found nowhere in this book a reason to not highly recommend it to others; this is perhaps just not my most well suited genre and I feel those who favor the philosophical fiction will be blown away by it’s beautiful, heartbreaking ways. I really appreciate how well the cover art ties into the story, and I think if you give it a try, you too will find enjoyment from this odd little book.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy.
*This was book #3 in my Nebulous November challenge.