25 October 2012

Review: Then by Julie Myerson

Then by Julie Myerson

Published: 2 June 2011 by Jonathan Cape

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic, mystery

Source: Own library

Check it out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


It was 9.22, the moment when everything stopped. First there was the burning air, then came the darkness, the fire, and finally the frost.

Now, in a frozen, wasted London, a woman - uncertain even of her own name - is fighting to stay alive. Along with a small group of fellow survivors, she takes refuge in an abandoned skyscraper in what was once the financial centre. But spectres stalk the empty offices and endless corridors, and soon visions of a forgotten world emerge, a world of broken love and betrayal, and horrific, shocking mercies - a world more traumatic even than the desolate present.

My Thoughts

Then is not a post-apocalyptic survival story. The apocalyptic event, which is never fully explained, that led to London becoming a frozen wasteland sets the scene for the story, but this is far more a literary mystery than a story of survival.

The writing style itself is quite difficult to get used to - it's quite bleak and time shimmers between the past and the present from paragraph to paragraph - this is a book that I had to pay real attention to, otherwise I would have been constantly lost.

Isobel has survived the event, simply described only as an unseasonably hot day that after a flash of light turns the world cold, and is sheltering in an office building with a man, and three teenagers. Having lost her memory, and continuing to have some kind of amnesia, she initially has no recollection of the event, or even of what has occurred just hours before. She is not particularly likable as a character, mainly because she has no memories to form a personality, likes or dislikes, and as she cannot remember nor really even distinguish between dreams and reality, she has an almost ghost-like quality.

Other characters fade in and out as the story progresses, and the whole book has a very ethereal but disjointed feeling. The ending is particularly poignant, but this book has no real resolution, which almost makes it a little bit too clever for its own good. This is not a fun read, nor action-packed, but I did like the ghostly, discombobulated feel. Yep, I've been waiting years to use that word!


  1. Even if it's too clever for its own good, it still sounds like a good read! :) Great review, Kat!

    1. It was a lot better than the GR averages had me believing. It was certainly unique.

  2. Discombobulated for the win, Kat! Great word.

    The book's summary almost reminded me of the 2004 flick "The Day After Tomorrow" but when you went into more detail, it seems to be more about survival than the apocalyptic event itself. I think I'd have some trouble with the ever-changing perspectives (past to present to past again) but it's nice to have fair warning so I can pay good attention to it.

    1. I've seen 'The Day After Tomorrow' at least six times. I love me a good disaster movie!

      The perspectives were a little hard to get used to, but it really added to the atmosphere of the book.

  3. This sounds so different! I have found lately that I appreciate a very out there writing style, and while it may take time to get into, it can definitely be a good thing. I think I will definitely be giving this one a go. Great review.

  4. Hmmm, this sounds interesting. It could either work for me or not but I'm going to keep an eye out for it.

  5. I love the sound of this book! Definitely going to have to check out this one for myself and Mr. Turning the Pages.... He loves books like these :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  6. Oooh, I've never heard of this one, but I love the cover and I'll go for post-apocalyptic, even if it's not about survival. Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure about that writing style, but I'm definitely adding it to my list!



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