BEFORE THIS IS OVER
TITLE: BEFORE THIS IS OVER
AUTHOR: AMANDA HICKIE
Thankyou to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me access to this pre- publication copy of the title.
Before this is over by Amanda Hicke is a powerful, thought-provoking drama that looks at one family in the heart of a devastated community and compels us to ask : How far would I go to save my children?
Meet Hannah Halloran. Wife of Sean, mother of teenage Zac and little Iscar.Their comfortable home in a suburb of a city unaffected by the deadly flu that’s killed thousands.But Hannah is tense. She is worried about Zacs vulnerability miles away at a crowded summer camp. She’s uneasy about Oscars boisterous play with children at his school. Is physical contact wise when an epidemic is coming closer? Hannah fears that their safe world is about to be blown apart.And she’s right. It’s time to get Zac home- if they can…
As the virus traps Hannah and her family in their neighbourhood and then within their own home, supplies of food, water and electricity dwindle.
The battery life of their mobile phones fade, cutting them off from critical news bulletins. Sean’s confidence that the government will keep everyone safe us misplaced. Every day, Hannah has choices to make that will decide whether they live or die. Choices with devastating consequences. Just how far will she go to protect those she loves?
I have confession to make I’m a bit of a disaster junkie, extreme weather, epidemics etc. That’s why despite never being a big fan of gore, I am addicted to and Love The walking dead series. The post apocalyptic world fascinates me as how humans cope with such a huge change in their environment and when the stable constructs of society as we know it fall apart, normality is gone and a new type of existence is forged.
SO when I read the synopsis of this book I literally couldn’t wait to open the first page and immerse myself in it.
What it isn’t is action packed, what it isn’t is pacey- what it is, is a very interesting , thought provoking fly on the wall look at the experience of an everyday surburban family of four, as they struggle to ‘wait out’ the pandemic of ‘ Manba’ that is sweeping the globe. Based in Austrailia we watch as Hannah begins to stockpile food and other essentials, initially she seems a little paranoid, hysterical even,Hannah is not the most likeable protagonist, she is obsessed with hand sanitizer and sees germs everywhere, evaluating every encounter and every situation for contamination threat and this can be slightly annoying and tedious,but as a few deaths rises exponentially and the government declares a state of quarantine, we realise she was proactive where many who are not prepared as reactive- and its too little to late to survive.And all of her seemingly over the top behaviour was more than justified.
This is where questions of morality are raised, The author directs the reader to ask themselves so many questions…
Hannah is willing to do anything to keep her family safe… We learn this isn’t the only threat to her life she has survived and as the crisis escalates and the food supplies dwindle, the electricity, water and Internet stop, Hannah’s morals are called into question.
Should she share her much needed supplies with an elderly eighbour who failed to prepare and now can’t survive without her help?
With more mouths to feed- will her own family suffer?
If a young child is abandoned for heartbreaking reasons In her garden can she risk infecting her family or should she leave the child to fend for herself?
However, I felt the synopsis suggested more tension, more life and death situations, some terrifying choices that would have to be made, but these didn’t really materialise in the book, they never really got too close to running out of food, their home was never more than vaguely threatened and so scenes that could have been developed and had the potential to add a gripping edge to the book kind of fizzled to nothing ( sadly).
Parents and especially mothers will relate to her, as a mother of two boys I could completely understand her desperation to keep the threat of infection away and to protect her family no matter what the cost.I did enjoy this book and never reached a point where I thought I didn’t want to finish it but at times it was very claustrophobic and a little mundane, six weeks within the confines of one setting, Hannah continually counting jars and tins in the pantry, the children playing board games and little else. I suppose it could have been the authors intention – for the reader to experience the same claustrophobia of being trapped in a small space with the same people for such a prolonged period of time and with little to do boredom is a given.. I felt that it could have benefited from a few more tense situations, when men came around to steal food , more could have been made of the threat and when the little girl is removed and is distressed I felt the scene could have been made much more harrowing and heartbreaking.
However it WAS interesting, I found it engaged me throughout and I have thought a out it a lot since closing it on the last page. How would I behave? How far would I go? How would we cope or react if an epidemic/ pandemic landed on our doorstep and changed our comfortable, luxury laden lifestyles with food on tap, water, electricity and our connection to the outside world- the Internet, went down, effectively cutting us off.
I would encourage fellow readers to pick up ‘ Before this is over’, for a gentle, intriguing and thought provoking read.