Born in the bush suburbs of Sydney to a Scot seeking inspiration and a passionate actress from Lancashire, Adrian J. Walker first found success as author when he self-published From the Storm in 2012. Last summer he followed it up with The End of the World Running Club, “a post-apocalyptic running fable about hope, love and endurance”—perfect, apparently, “for fans of The Martian”—which Del Rey UK recently acquired the rights to re-release.
At the time, Emily Yau, Assistant Editor of the aforementioned Ebury imprint, described The End of the World Running Club as “an original, exciting and powerful” piece of writing:
So much more than your usual post-apocalyptic novel, it takes you on a journey that’s full of twists and turns, breath-taking action and engaging characters. But ultimately it’s an uplifting story of what it is to be human, which will resonate strongly with readers.
And judging by the seven hundred odd reviews and ratings Walker’s second novel has amassed across Amazon and Good Reads in the year since the beast was unleashed, she’s not wrong.
The End of the World Running Club’s official synopsis starts pretty typically for a novel of its genre, it’s true, but do stay tuned till paragraph two, which speaks to the physical twist I’m told sets this text apart from the post-apocalyptic pack:
Edgar Hill is 35 and caught in his own headlock. Overweight slob, under-performing husband and reluctant father—for Ed, the world may as well have already ended. So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief.
But nothing’s ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force. Suddenly he finds himself facing a gruelling journey on foot across a devastated United Kingdom. Edgar must race against time and overcome his own shortcomings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a heavily flooded west coast, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever…
After altogether too many months—years, even—parked behind either a keyboard or a book, I started running over the summer, so The End of the World Running Club’s spin on fitness appeals to me a great deal. Markedly more than the new cover does, I dare say.
Compared to the stark and atmospheric artwork which graced the original edition of Walker’s novel, the cracked tarmac of Del Rey UK’s take bores me near to tears, I fear. Although I do quite like the new title treatment, reminiscent as it is of The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
But of course it’s what’s inside that counts, and you can colour me keen to crack open a copy of The End of the World Running Club to find out for myself what the fuss over this book has been about.
Happily, Del Rey UK made its digital edition available yesterday—and if you have a passion for paper, the aforementioned genre fiction imprint also plans to publish physical editions of Walker’s second novel starting next January.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.