Before This Is Over
By Amanda Hickie
Published by Headline
Available in paperback and ebook
Amanda Hickie’s novel, Before this is Over, captures the fears and hysteria of epidemics and the way people slowly unravel in times of crisis.
Hannah lives a normal life with her husband and two sons, living in the suburbs in Australia. They go to work, they go to school, they own a cat and enjoy watching TV together except that there’s a pantry in their hallway that Hannah is obsessed with.
The news is full of a epidemic in far off places with a death toll increasing with every bulletin. Stockpiling. Stockpiling. Obsessed with germs. But Hannah is a fighter, having survived cancer. There is no way she’s going to lose her family to a simple bug.
The epidemic is getting closer - the city is on lockdown. Hannah lockdowns her family, pulling her children from the school, making her husband work from home, ordering their groceries online, shutting off from the world around them. Counting through their rations, obsessing with news bulletins, keeping the real world at arm's length.
The virus, Manba, begins as a cough, progressing until its terminal. There is no cure, no understanding. Cases rapidly spread through countries. Hickie captures the hysteria and panic in sharp detail as it plays out in the background of this novel. Hickie explores the way people react and behave when put under extreme conditions - losing power, low food supplies. Hannah and her family face a moral dilemma - do they stretch their supplies to feed their elderly neighbour and the little girl from next door.
Hickie builds up the tense with the family, stranded in their own home, estranged from the people who live next door, from the wider community. Their lives and relationships slowly unravel, paranoia spreading quicker than the virus.
The feeling of claustrophobia makes this a tense read - most of the book is located in a small house crammed with Hannah’s family and also the children that come to stay. There is a sense of unease. It doesn’t descend into Lord of the Flies territory but the characters do slowly unravel and lose a sense of self.
Before this is Over isn’t a book with huge plot movement but more about characters and their reactions. This would make a great buy for any of your friends that don’t like travelling on the underground during the winter because of the fear of catching a virus.
Before this is Over is available from your favourite bookshop.
I was kindly sent a copy via the publisher.