The End of the Ocean: A Novel

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Release Date: 
January 14, 2020
Reviewed by: 

“Chillingly frank in its discussion of our planets fragile ecological system and the fight to save our basic natural resources.”

In 2017, 70-year-old Signe sets out on a hazardous voyage to cross an entire ocean in only a sailboat. She is haunted by the loss of the love of her life and is driven by a singular and all-consuming mission to make it back to him.

Twenty-two years into the future, David flees with his young daughter, Lou, from a war-torn Southern Europe plagued by drought. They have been separated from their rest of their family and are on a desperate search to reunite with them once again, when they find Signe's abandoned sailboat in a parched French garden, miles away from the nearest shore. As David and Lou rummage through personal effects from Signe's travels, their journey of survival and hope weaves together with Signe's, forming a heartbreaking, inspiring story about the power of nature and the human spirit.

The End of the Ocean is Maja Lunde’s second foray into adult fiction and is a spellbinding read that focuses on the realities of climate change though the eyes of a father and daughter. Lunde is one of Norway’s most prominent authors and screenwriters, who is best known for writing the critically acclaimed international bestseller The History of Bees (2015). Her previous writings focused on children and young adult themes.

First published in 2017 in Norway, The End of the Ocean centers on base level survival in the not too distant future. Mankind is facing possible multiple ecological calamities that include droughts and a lack of sustainable resources. The plot focuses on three characters: Signe, David, and Lou. Signe's narrative is based in present day Norway where she has lived a lifetime of activism fighting for conservation of natural resources. During her college years, she meets Magnus, and they become lovers. Both initially want to protect the environment, but after graduation Magnus takes a different path that leads him to harvest glaciers and sell the ice. Because of this the pair drift apart. The legacy of their actions impact the future.

“All life is water, all life was water . . . It gushed from the sky as rain or snow, it filled the small lakes in the mountains, lay in the form of ice in the glacier, it flowed down the steep mountains in thousands of small streams . . . The ground, the mountains, the pastures were tiny islands in that which actually was the world. I called my world Earth but thought that is should actually be named Water.”

Storyline two follows the father-daughter duo of David and Lou. They reside in France several decades in the future where mankind is struggling to survive in a world filled with chaos. Because of severe drought there are massive wildfires ravaging Europe and food, water, and medical supplies are in short supply.  

“. . . the stores were emptied of food staples, and the city became emptier, quieter. And hotter. The drier the earth became, the hotter the air. Previously the sun had applied its forces to evaporation. When there was no longer any moisture on the earth, we became the sun’s target.”

Chillingly frank in its discussion of our planet’s fragile ecological system and the fight to save our basic natural resources, Lunde’s two superbly written interlinking narratives are emotionally charged and the beautifully expressed underlying message of hope, love and forgiveness helps to soften the ominous realties that could befall humanity if nothing is done to reverse the bleak certainties of climate change.