The Edge of Life, a review by Joanna

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The Edge of Life

Lena Gibson

Black Rose Writing

Published on April 6th, 2023

298 pages


The Edge of Life is a sometimes sweet, sometimes tense post-apocalyptic love story, about two people finding each other just as the world as they know it is ending. I generally avoid romance novels, but saw some glowing reviews from friends and do like PA fiction, especially when it’s realistic rather than about zombies, so was keen to see how the mash up worked. This has two delightful lead characters and enough suspense to keep me happy.

Kat is a lonely elementary school teacher who has been drowning her feelings in alcohol for two years since her husband died. When her best friend, astroscientist Nick introduces her to his other friend Ryan, a workoholic lawyer, he just intends to get them all out for some exercise. Then Nick sends a veiled message that they should leave Seattle, as a massive asteroid is about to hit Earth, so they embark on a perilous road trip to reach their only chance at survival – Ryan’s survivalist grandfather’s bunker in North Dakota.

This was a very readable – and scarily believable – first novel, that certainly had me wondering what I would do in their situation. There are a lot of familiar PA elements – from the rapid onset of hedonism and anarchy, the rise of thuggery, threats of rape, and the perpetual problem of finding enough to eat. At first I thought they seemed to have it all work out too easily, but this doesn’t last, and it does get quite dark.

The best part of this are Ryan and Kat: she is neurodivergent, but not portrayed as “lovably quirky” like characters with autism have been in a lot of recent fiction, she’s brave and resourceful, but just has problems with some people. The author bio at the end explains: “As an adult newly recognized with autism, she often creates characters that reflect her experience.” Ryan is appealingly serious and moral, but steps up when the need arises. I liked the love story, but could’ve done without the love scenes which were quite graphic and unnecessary.

It’s not clear whether this is the start of a series – quite a few threads and characters’ fates were left hanging which is fine if there’s more to come, but if not I’m disappointed by the (extremely cheesy) ending, so I’m rounding down from 4.5. Thanks to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for the ARC.

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