Book Review: The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

“Her world fell to pieces. From the bones, she built a new life.”

Set to be released on 24th June, The Stranding by Kate Sawyer is set in the before and after of a world is changed beyond recognition. Before, Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working to the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life, and stuck in a claustrophobic relationship. So she chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand. But when she arrives at her destination, she finds instead that the world, and life, she left behind no longer exists. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.


Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Stranding is a beautifully vivid story about what it means to build a life, the power of meeting someone you want to build a life with, finding strength in the darkest moments, and realising the fortune of life’s most precious gifts.

The book is told between two narratives, the before and after. In the before, we meet Ruth getting by, day by day, stuck in a claustrophobic relationship with nothing to look forward to, distancing herself from the impending doom. The after then begins after a global disaster which Ruth has managed to survive after climbing into the mouth of a whale, as she begins to build a new life [literally] from the rubbles.

While it’s primarily set in a post-apocalyptic world, The Stranding is much more of a powerful drama than anything too sci-fi. It’s not about the event itself or the state of the world afterwards (although enough of these aspects are detailed to give you a sense of the setting), but is instead a story of resilience, survival, hope, and love.

Most of all, it’s about Ruth’s growth as a woman. She’s a fantastic character, and one I engaged with deeply. Her character goes on such a transformation, building on her capabilities, both physically and emotionally, so it’s hard not to be compelled by her warmth and determination.

The way the two narratives contrast so starkly against each other but weave together as the before and after eventually meet in the middle is done brilliantly. Sawyer’s development and structure are both phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

The Stranding is such a captivating and original story, and I thoroughly recommend that you give this one a chance.


The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
Release Date: 24th June 2021
Print Length: 390 pages
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Publisher: Coronet / Hodder & Stoughton

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