Close your eyes and picture the end of the world. Is it a flood? A war? A disease? After reading these August new releases, your version of the world's end might be radically altered. A theme running through the new releases of August is endings — either of the world, or of characters' worlds.
In some speculative books out this month, like Severance by Ling Ma and Vox by Christina Dalcher, protagonists have to navigate worlds drastically reshaped by a global events, like pandemic (Severance), or a policy that limits women's speech to less than 100 words a day (Vox). Haemi Lee, the central character of Crystal Hana Kim's wrenching debut If You Leave Me, sees her conception of "normal" completely erased by war. But endings can also be narrower, more personal — and no less wrenching. Two exquisite novels out this month, Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry and The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg, explore the grief of losing a partner, and losing the life that had been yours together.
Perhaps the most extreme ending is the one which looms over the memoir Judas by Astrid Holleeder. In the novel, Holleeder, a criminal lawyer, explains her decision to testify against her brother, Willem "Wim" Holleeder, one of the Netherlands' most notorious criminals. Holleeder writes in hiding. Every day, her life is in danger.