Cover Image: The Stranding

The Stranding

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Member Reviews


That's the only word for it. I'm bereft.

I've finished 'The Stranding' and I'm overwhelmed with the emotions of this amazing novel.

I'm also wondering how and why it took me such a long time to get around to reading it from my Netgalley approvals. I'm kicking myself. There are multiple times in the past few months when I needed this book but had no idea how much. It's going to buzz around my mind for a long time.

Many people hate duel timelines. I'm not always a fan but in this case, the two stories of Ruth's life before and after 'the event' that changed everything forever, is handled very cleverly. We get to know her as a traveller who has flown to New Zealand to try to work with whales but it takes most of the book before we find out how she got there and what happened to her world, and everybody else's world. Actually, it's more true to say we don't ever find out what really happened but we can imagine.

Back in London, Ruth before the stranding is as 'beached' in her own life as the massive creature she finds on a New Zealand beach. She's a teacher, she's lost her mojo a bit, she has fabulous parents and a wonderful friend and a toxic relationship with a married man. In New Zealand, the end of the world is coming and she's on a beach, trying to comfort a massive whale for whom it's only a matter of time before nature takes its course. She meets Nik, a kiwi photographer, who stays with her and the whale and, through the freakiest survival story that you'll ever read, they survive something that seemingly nobody else has. I won't tell you how - you'll enjoy that for yourself.

Not everything makes sense. It seems that almost everybody the world over is dead but oddly other animals are still OK. Fish are swimming, mussels are spawning, rabbits and deer are running about the woods providing food for Nik and Ruth. That said, I didn't really care if the story wasn't 100% logical or rational. I loved it in spite of such things.

Ruth's life before and after is an extreme case of compare and contrast. The love she finds with Nik is an honest, wholesome contrast to the relationship with a controlling ex-married man, Alex. Nik and Ruth's adaptation to a lonely world of survival is deeply moving and will make most readers think hard about the things we take for granted. If you lost everything you can sit around and feel sad or you can get on with getting on with being alive.  They are beautiful characters.

I am so grateful to Netgalley and the publishers for this wonderful book.
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Not my normal type of reading.

I think that Kate Sawyer did a brilliant job of imagining this very dark storyline. Her characters taking cover in a whale was quite mind-blowing, but I didn’t particularly like the people and found myself begging for the final page to appear.


Elite Reviewing Group received a copy of the book to review.
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This is book 18 of my books of Summer 2021.

wow!! What a reading experience that was!! I'd heard so many good things about this book so I was a little nervous getting started, but once I was a few pages in I didn't want to put it down!! You are just absorbed by the 'before' and 'after' storytelling style that talks of a catastrophic global event but never actually mentions what it is/was, and for me that really added to the magic of the story and how it involves you heart and soul!

At the centre of the story is Ruth! In the 'before' story, she's involved with Alex and utterly besotted. Putting up with sly digs at her weight, being at his beck and call - she's in deep and ignores the warning signs despite her friends and family being less enamoured of his behaviour. But as the time goes by, the reality of 'his love' for her shows itself in clearer terms and she finds herself going travelling to New Zealand. That's one way to put distance between them!

In the 'after' storyline she's in New Zealand and it's a very bleak, isolated world. She's on a beach with a dead whale and a stranger watching her. It brilliantly portrays the abject fear she must feel, alongside that 'must not give up' attitude that needs to find within to seek some hope in this new world. With the stranger making himself known to her, we then follow their struggles to survive in the situation they find themselves in.

I just can't stop thinking about this book! It has a storyline that is a little different from the norm with intriguing characters and situations! I found it to be beautifully written, full of hope alongside the despair of the circumstances that this book portrays and it's definitely one of my books of 2021!
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Brilliant! Darkly compelling and a real page turner.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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The Stranding by Kate Sawyer is a captivating story about survival in the absolute worst of circumstances and follows the lives of Ruth and Nik after they survive the annihilation of humanity. This book is told through two timelines in Ruth’s life, the Before and After and I equally enjoyed both of these narratives. In the Before, Ruth is living in London and working as a teacher, but she is deeply unhappy and unsettled in the relationship she has found herself in and decides to follow her dreams of work in whale conservation in New Zealand. Ruth finds herself on a beach with a stranded whale just before the end, and in a split-second decision, climbs into the mouth of the dead whale alongside a complete stranger. The world they emerge into is like nothing they have ever experienced and together they must find a way to survive in this new life. 

I absolutely loved this book, I raced through it in less than 2 days. From the very beginning I was completely immersed in the story and the characters, and I was desperate to find out what happened, both to the world, to Ruth in the Before and where her future with Nik would lead. I was so fully engaged in this book, that for days afterwards I have been thinking about it, so realistic was the story that I found myself not wanting it to end. Although this plot has a fairly bleak beginning, it is an uplifting and touching observation of how love blooms in unlikely places, the importance of the bonds we forge in our relationships and how we carry those we lose with us always. I look forward to reading more by Kate Sawyer in the future after this.
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This book...! During the pandemic, much of my reading has focused on escapism. Escapism from the news cycle, from the four walls of my flat... The Stranding was very much not that - this is a book that will force you to take a long hard look at many of the headlines we've been ignoring, the same headlines Ruth ignored. But, in reading Kate Sawyer's brilliantly crafted debut, I feel a bit braver in confronting 2021 beyond. A book filled with love, and hope, redemption, and resilience. It will stick with you for a long, long time after you've turned the last page.
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A well written story that I found hard to review as it was totally out of my comfort zone.
Great world building, excellent storytelling and characters.
The plot is fascinating, never drags, and kept me hooked.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Loved this book, one of many lockdown released dystopian thrillers I've read but also one of the very best! Spellbinding, raw and authentic, Sawyer gently reveals each characters flaws and finer points at just the right point in the plot to pull at our heartstrings.  Imaginative, bold and brave, this has to be up there with the top releases of 2021!
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The Stranding is so so beautiful. Captivating and elegiac, it was an absolute pleasure to read.

Ruth has been obsessed with whales since she was a child. But her life hasn't been the adventure she anticipated. A series of dead end relationships, and a teaching job that frankly, she doesn't love. When she meets Alex, a married man, she thinks he might be the one. But when he leaves his wife and moves in, Ruth begins to feel controlled and hurt by his not so subtle put downs. Finally having had enough, she buys a ticket to New Zealand where she hopes to recharge, as well as finally volunteer on a project with whales.

In New Zealand Ruth finds a stranded whale and a stranger, Nik whose quick thinking saves their lives. There have been hints of an impending catastrophe throughout, and when Nik and Ruth emerge from inside the whale's mouth, they emerge into a wholly different world. 

Drawing on all their reserves of strength and intellect, they must find ways to survive their stranding. Falling in love happens slowly but deeply, with a connection neither have experienced before. They have two children, Maia and Frankie and there is such an incredibly moving scene at the end between the sisters. 

A gentle story with a backbone of steel, The Stranding is understated, it's warm and wise. It's a story about love, survival and above all else, it's a story about hope.
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The Stranding is a stunning debut novel from Kate Sawyer.  It’s an emotional, engrossing read, beautifully written and filled with vivid description and believable characters you really care about.

The book is told in two timelines, before the catastrophic world event and afterwards; the narrative weaves seamlessly between the two. In the before, we discover Ruth’s London life, her friends, family and her relationship with Alex. In the after we find Ruth in New Zealand, having survived by climbing into the mouth of a beached whale. 

I loved how the author developed and transformed Ruth’s character throughout the narrative.  Ruth is such an engaging character, I absolutely adored her.

This book has several themes, for me, the most prominent being love.  Whether it be parental love, romantic love or love between friends, it is beautifully portrayed in this book.  It’s also about the resilience of the human spirit, especially when faced with enormous difficulties, and survival and hope. I cannot wait to see what this extremely talented writer does next. 

This is a truly original story and I’m recommending it to all my friends.  Would give it 10 out of 10 stars if I could.

I would like to thank the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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A parallel story of present life in London and a dystopian future on the other side of the world,  #TheStranding is a novel of existence and survival but also a desire for something more- life.

I didn't know what to expect of it initially but by the end of it, I really enjoyed reading it.
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A fantastic, thought provoking read. At the end of the world and as humanity dies, Ruth and Nik seek shelter in the body of a stranded whale and emerge into a new world, the only survivors. The novel had vague echoes of Nevil Shutes On The Beach, a story also about nuclear annihilation and which terrified me when I read it over thirty years ago. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the arc.
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What a simply amazing and stunning debut, I don’t think there are possibly the right words to say how much I loved this book. Based on the synopsis  had been looking forward to reading but I don’t think I was prepared for how truly original this is , how imaginative, some things are left unexplained, but you don’t really feel annoyed. This is an amazing story of humanity, family, hope, love and loss. The writing style is so lovely, this is definitely a story that will remain with you long after you close the pages.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Nothing like my usual choice, I had read a few reviews and was delighted to be approved for an advance copy of The Stranding by Kate Sawyer. 

The story is told on two different timelines – before and after the end of the world.  Two strangers Ruth and Nik who meet minutes before the event trying to survive by climbing into a whale’s mouth. 

Ruth’s life before is completely different to the after, navigating life’s ups and downs with her family, her boyfriend Alex and her best friend Fran. Going from one relationship to the other looking for love. The huge decision she makes to go to New Zealand changed her completely.  We see a different woman - almost like a snake shedding its skin, a rebirth, an awakening; her emotional and physical strength and her resilience is astounding. 

Brilliant writing, great characters and a fantastic story that stirred up a lot of emotion particularly in the times that we are in.  This book will stay with me for a long time.  Highly recommend.  Five stars.
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A bold book, very dramatic and lots of twists and turns in every chapter. Clever structure, alternating between going back and forth in time: present day and  ‘Before.’  We don’t know what happened - but Ruth finds herself stranded with a man called Nik on an island. It is clear that they have survived some kind of apocalypse, but there are other survivors somewhere but Ruth and Nik have decided to stay out. They survived by hiding in the body of a whale. An interesting concept for a book and an enjoyable read with a great storyline.
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I have read a lot of books this year, and this is definitely one of my favourites. An usual concept  beautifully written. I was absorbed. 
The characters, the two time frames and the setting were well portrayed and I couldn’t wait to get back to it when life interfered. I would have read it in one setting if I could. 
Don’t let the unusual description put you off. This book feels real and relatable. I absolutely loved it.
Thank you to the author, her publisher and @NetGalley for the opportunity to read #TheStanding. It is a very special book and I will be recommending it to everyone I know.
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This is one of the best books I've read recently. Having just read another book about a whale and impending doom I was a bit unsure why I'd started another one. But it is very different and amazingly good.

The writing is beautiful and feels realistic. I won't spoil the plot but how the author weaves different scenes from Before and After that have related threads is very subtlety and cleverly done. 

A lot to think about what it means to be human, how we find strength in stories, legends, society and in ourselves. Despite some of the bleak subject matter it is uplifting.

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Really enjoyed the first half of this, but I felt like the ending didn't have enough payoff/the last half didn't develop far enough. Very well written however, and I'm sure there are big things to come.
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I liked this. It's beautifully written and very engaging. Have always loved 'survivalist' stories and this has a shipwreck feel, twinned with dystopia. Really interesting genre blend.
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What a remarkable book! Primarily set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story is told between two narratives, the before and after. In the before, we meet Ruth struggling with her relationship with Alex and nothing to look forward to and in the after we follow Ruth in her struggle to begin her new life surviving a global disaster. The book is so well-written and the two narratives are so smart and I love how they connect in the end. This is an unforgettable story, of love, hope and survival. It's haunting, compelling, heartbreaking and beautiful, highly recommended! 

Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for this copy.
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