“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.”
This book was so weird and in this case, weird is awesome! It felt vaguely familiar as I read and once I hit 25% I realized that was because the plot reminded me of The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. For those that have read The Leftovers, it isn’t the family drama dynamics but the “Rapture-ish” event that takes place in the beginning.
The Rending and The Nest knocked me off my feet from page one. On a random day without any warning, “ninety-five percent of the Earth’s population and the vast majority of the animals, food and goods” vanish. The people and animals left had only “the Piles and later the Babies.” Mira, our main character loses everyone in her family the day of the Rending. The first person she encounters after she wakes up is a mall security guard named Doug (who is a piece of you know what). She is in an H&M store at the mall where she had been shopping with her little brother Bim. The description of what Mira sees after the Rending is what hooked me early on. “I’d woken alone, on the floor of H&M, tucked between rows of cheap jewelry. The displays looked picked over, as though a massive horde of zirconium-hungry locusts had passed through while I took a nap on the tile floor.” Once she looks around a bit more she says “the rest of the store looked like it had suffered a plague as well. Nothing was overturned. Nothing was rumpled or broken. There were no clerks behind the registers. There were no registers.” Mira never explains what happened during her short moments with Doug but says “I knew something terrible had happened and I knew that the man holding my arm was not a good man.” She is shortly after rescued by two other people in the mall Lana and Rodney whom she quickly becomes friends with. They begin a three week journey with a short stay at Ikea (which I loved) along the way to find others and eventually settle and form a society they call Zion. Each day they scavenge through the mountainous Piles that showed up all over the world on the day that everything and most of the population went missing. These Piles hold random items and scavengers like Mira are in charge of finding supplies and necessities for the people in their community within them.
If you think this premise is weird, I assure you it gets weirder. Three years after the Rending, Mira is 20 years old and her friend Lana is pregnant. This is the first pregnancy their group has experienced since the world changed. The community’s doctor tells Mira that something is wrong with her friends pregnancy when after twenty-six weeks pregnant she stills feels no movement. The problem is, without technology they cannot know what that problem is until the baby is born. The day Lana goes into labor, everything in their society changes. Lana gives birth, but not to a human. Nor is it an alien or animal, or anything crazy like that. Even crazier, she gives birth to a doll. An inanimate object. Lana is absolutely beside herself and when these births continue to happen with different objects being “birthed” to each woman, the group is faced with the challenge of determining what to do with “the babies” and need to find out why this is happening.
The Rending and The Nest was such an interesting and unique book. I know it seems like I gave away many more details than I should have, but I’m telling you this book has a TON more details and plot twists than I have written here. I didn’t even mention the infamous Zoo, how the society of Zion works, theories about why the Rending occurred or the mysterious man who appears in their community!
I always think that the craziest stories are the coolest because they came out of someone’s mind. This isn’t anything that’s ever really happened or ever really would, but the author had enough of an idea spark in her mind to create this world and all of its characters. Mira is a well thought out three dimensional character whose motivations are understood. I loved the supporting cast and all of their back stories as well. The plot connections made throughout the book and the secrets revealed all kept me interested and engaged. There are themes of love, friendship, motherhood, danger, mystery and more in this post-apocalyptic/dystopian book. Check it out!
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?