January 14, 2020

A Beginning at the End

By Mike Chen
Mike Chen’s fast-paced tale is an optimistic look at how our humanity can bring out the best in us, even in the darkest times.
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For Moira, it starts at a concert. Her concert, actually; she’s a beloved pop star, known as MoJo, and she’s on stage at Madison Square Garden when news of a flu-like outbreak called multi-generational syndrome (MGS) sends her fans into a panic. Moira follows the crowd into the streets of New York City and recognizes her chance. The world may be ending, but this is her shot at freedom from her overbearing father.

Rob and Sunny find themselves in quarantine after Rob’s wife, Elena, is fatally injured during a riot. Rob can’t bring himself to tell Sunny her mother has died, and he spends each subsequent day wrestling with the resulting lies. Krista is watching over her dying boyfriend—a victim of the MGS pandemic—when opportunity literally knocks on her door. She chooses life and joins a group fleeing to save themselves.

These four survivors come together in San Francisco, an unlikely group fused by Moira’s pending nuptials, Krista’s role as an event planner and Rob’s desperation to keep his daughter at his side.

A Beginning at the End, the second imaginative novel by technical- and sportswriter-turned-novelist Mike Chen (Here and Now and Then), examines the hysteria of a world where some adopt an “every individual for him- or herself” attitude. Relationships fall apart as most of the world’s remaining population wrestles with a PTSD-like condition.

Even against a science fiction backdrop, humanity is the center of Chen’s post-apocalyptic tale. Krista banks on her clients’ desire to find some joy in the midst of a bleak world. But the real hope comes from the characters’ desires to hide their pasts—and then their willingness to reveal their true selves to one another as they seek something worth living for.

“I’m out here because I love people, and that’s the American Dream today. We mourn, we rebuild, we respect the things we have,” explains one of the men who helped Moira flee her pop-star past, effectively summarizing the crew’s ongoing hope.

Chen’s fast-paced tale is an optimistic look at how our humanity can bring out the best in us, even in the darkest times.

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