Shortlisted for the STEAM Children’s Book Prize 2020
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2020
Winner of the RED Book Award 2020
One of the best children’s books of 2019 by The I newspaper
“Lauren James is a genius at building tension.” SFX Magazine
“James is one to watch.“ Kirkus Reviews
How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens their entire existence.
In the quiet at the end of the world, Lowrie and Shen must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to save the whole human race…
“A post-apocalyptic novel with a twist, The Quiet at the End of the World spins a compassionate tale of two young survivors in a rapidly ageing society. Thoughtful, tender and engrossing, James’s intelligent, crafted prose evokes a brilliantly realised future world.” – Waterstones
“A controlled yet elegantly light touch makes The Quiet at the End of the World a credible, hugely rewarding read.” – SFX Magazine
“A terrifyingly relevant story in today’s society, full of heart and adventure” – Book Riot
- Tumblr tag
- Read the first chapter on Wattpad
- Listen to an extract of the audiobook
- Research trips I took when writing the book
- A creative writing activity using the book for students (video)
- Writing playlist
- Fancasting the characters
- Where I got the idea
- The science representation in the book
- Deleted scene – antique carriage ride
- Short story ‘Childhood Sweethearts’
The Quiet at the End of the World is about Lowrie and Shen, the youngest people alive in a time after humans go infertile. They have grown up knowing that they are going to watch their species face extinction, and spend their time exploring the crumbling remains of civilisation, treasure-hunting for things their ancestors have left behind.
It’s about the time after the apocalypse, when there’s no hope, and nothing to do but wait and try to enjoy life at the end of the world. I love post-apocalyptic novels, but they are always very grimdark – depressing and tragic. I wanted to subvert that trope and write a kind of soft apocalypse, with an uplifting look at humanity and kindness in the small community that would result from a large population loss (it’s a very English kind of village, and book).
I read Station Eleven a few years ago, and really came away from that novel with a sense of just how much there still is to live for when you’ve lost everything. As a reader I feel like there are so many stories that hadn’t been told in that kind of setting – after the angst of the apocalypse, when you’re not necessarily trying to rebuild the world but live a good, happy life in the time you have left. So as a writer, I didn’t want to write a dystopia full of villains and evil governments (there’s enough of that in real life). I just wanted to write about humanity in isolation.
I wanted to tell a story about how vulnerable life is, when the human race is an endangered species on the brink of extinction. And how easily the smallest thing could push it over the edge.
What do you do? If you know you’re the last of your kind, and nothing you do matters or will be remembered once you’re gone. How can you spend your days in harmony, when you know that every hour represents the thousands of years of human civilisation behind you? With those generations looking over your shoulder, are you ever truly yourself, or are you just the culmination of their decisions? How can you be an individual without looking ahead or behind you? Should you even try? Those are the questions that Lowrie and Shen are asking each other in The Quiet at the End of the World.
In March 2016 I posted this quote from a book I was reading, which is not something I usually do, from Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. It just really spoke to me and I wanted to share it. Then I carried on with my life and forgot all about it.
But at the back of my mind, the quote and idea were clearly simmering away because three months later in June 2016, I was backpacking around Cambodia. I woke up in the middle of the night in a grotty youth hostel and scrambled for my travel notebook and wrote out a book idea. It was about the last boy and girl born after humanity stopped being able to conceive, who have to watch the human race go extinct.
Lowrie and Shen – character casting
Moodboard by fantasticbooksawtft
Art of Mitch by Grace Henkel
Latest posts about The Quiet at the End of the World
- YA Book Prize shortlisting, a creative writing activity & book recsI’m very excited that The Quiet at the End of the World has been shortlisted for the YA book prize! The list is so great this year, so I’m very flattered to be in such lovely company! My free onlineContinue reading “YA Book Prize shortlisting, a creative writing activity & book recs”
- STEAM Book Prize double shortlisting and story updateHugely thrilled that both The Quiet at the End of the World and The Starlight Watchmaker have been shortlisted for the2020 STEAM Children’s Book Prize, celebrating science in fiction! Here’s the full YA list: Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans UsborneContinue reading “STEAM Book Prize double shortlisting and story update”
- Audiobook sample The Quiet at the End of the World narrated by Camilla Rockleyvia IFTTT