Book Review: After the End by Clare Mackintosh

After the End…

About the Book:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end…

My Thoughts:

I’ll be up front here and let you know that this review will contain spoilers – to a certain degree. The blurb is particularly vague so it’s impossible for me to talk about this book and the problems I had with it without divulging the themes and the main topic. So bear that in mind if you continue to read. I came to this book with high expectations as I’ve read this author’s novels in the past and really appreciated them. It’s a tricky novel to review though, this one, because it’s entirely without joy. It depicts a sad and awful situation for a couple to find themselves in. It’s not the sort of novel anyone could actually ‘like’. Appreciate, yes, but probably not like or love. You see, this novel is about a couple who have a terminally ill toddler. The hospital is recommending palliative care to ease his suffering into death. Continuing treatment is an option, but has no positive outcome. The parents need to decide which path they should take. Unfortunately, they disagree, and the decision needs to then be made by a judge.

The first half of the novel is titled Before, meaning of course, before the death of their son, Dylan. Much of this is played out in the hospital and in flash backs of happier days. This section culminates in the judge’s decision, but in a twist, the author gives the reader both scenarios and the novel moves into After, but within two timelines. This is the point where the novel fell apart for me. The second half is made up short and choppy chapters alternating between a life where Dylan died after three weeks and one where he died after three years. The three week span is in Pip’s perspective – because she was in favour of letting him go – and the three year span is in Max’s perspective – because he wanted to keep on with the treatments. Neither outcome projects a better decision, which is ultimately one of the main points. Either path was a losing one for both Pip and Max, but which one was better for their son?

I just feel that this part of the book, the whole After section, didn’t given me a chance to be invested in the story. Perhaps if the book had been divided into three parts, it would have allowed for spending time within each pathway and really appreciating the consequences of that particular decision, but the constant switching back and forth prevented that and also, on occasion, became confusing and I needed to check back to the chapter header to see who I was with and what pathway we were on.

But really, it’s not just the style that had me offside. I wanted to really dive deep into what happened between Pip and Max after the judge made his call. The stress upon their marriage because of Dylan’s illness was profound, but Max’s approach to this decision was to my mind, like taking an axe to something and splitting it apart. He really showed a side of himself that was not favourable and I struggle to see how any relationship could come back from that. How did they cope in those days immediately after the judge’s decision? In the last weeks of their son’s life? How did they breathe the same air after such a terrible chasm had opened up between them? How did Pip recover from the social media evisceration she was subjected to because of Max’s decision to plaster such a personal thing all over the internet? None of this was addressed. Instead, the story just wandered off onto these two pathways that were flimsy, uninteresting, and not particularly deep. Such a disappointment.

There is a lot of hype about this novel and a swag of five star reviews. There was a lot of potential within the first half of the novel, certainly, but for me, it was all downhill from the second half.

☕☕ +1/2

Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of After the End for review.

About the Author:

With over 2 million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016. Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into over thirty-five languages.
Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
For more information visit Clare’s website or find her at or on Twitter @ClareMackint0sh

After the End
Published by Hachette Australia
Released on 25th June 2019

14 thoughts on “Book Review: After the End by Clare Mackintosh

  1. This sounds like an awful book, not in any sense of not being well done because I haven’t read it but in the sense of being such a terrible scenario as these situations are. These are situations that I would rather not think about…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really was Lisa and if not for my usual practice of reading the author note at the back first, I would have had no preparation for the content. It’s the sort of moral dilemma Jodi Picoult does particularly well, but at least with her novels you know what you’re in for. Vague blurbs do a disservice to readers, I feel, especially when dealing with such sensitive topics.


    • The problem with it is that it’s very different to any of the other books this author has released, and with the vague blurb, it would be easy to get caught out buying it if you enjoyed her previous releases and then not being able to read it! It was a very draining read. But so many people seem to be loving it! 🤷‍♀️


  2. Oh holy Oprah 😳 Thank you for going ahead with the spoiler-y approach, I can see how it would’ve been impossible to properly discuss this one without revealing some details. The premise sounds so compelling, if I’d only heard it without any commentary I would’ve been clicking through to add it to my TBR instantly… such a shame it sounds like the execution let it down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, such a shame, this book, although harrowing, sounded like something I’d read but the second half of the book sounds like a huge let-down. I might read it one day but not until I’ve read my gazillion other books.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too appreciated the honesty of this terrible situation for two parents and for a little boy. But I agree with the review that the second half that diverges into two pathways left me confused and unsatisfied. The very last chapter that seems to have PIP and Max getting married again left me very disoriented because nothing had led up to that possibility at all. Just a confusing way of telling the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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