After The Snow

[openbook booknumber=”9780312641696″][rating:4/5]

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

In a post-apocalyptic world, plunged into an ice age after a period of dramatically shifting climate, society is coming unglued. On the outskirts of this society, independent and surviving on their own, lives Willo and his family. They eke out an existence in a world turned cold by hunting, trapping and working what little farm land there is in the very brief spring and summer. Willo has gone half-savage in many ways. He wears the skull of a dog on his head, doesn’t read very much or very well, and spends most of his days out setting traps in the freezing, driving snow with an instinct for hunting honed from growing up in the midst of an ice age. It’s the only world he has ever known.

I’m gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching.
       And nothing moving down there.
       The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house, gray and lonely down by the river all frozen. I got to think what I’m gonna do now that everyone gone.
       But I got my dog head on.
       The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me.
       The house look proper empty – don’t it, dog?

One day his family is taken by men in trucks while Willo is gone and he comes back to find that he is now all alone in this freezing wilderness. What follows is his journey to survive in the cold while finding answers for where his family has gone. What he discovers is ultimately almost more than he can understand, but is chilling for the reader that understands all too well.

This is another novel that uses phonetic spelling in speech to convey how Willo communicates and relates to the world. His thoughts are also simply arranged and laid out. This did not bother me in After the Snow as much as it did in Blood Red Road. I think, in that case, the punctuation was a deal breaker for me. In After the Snow the quote marks were left intact so it increased the readability for me and as I was able to enjoy the spelling for its original purpose, gaining more insight into the speaker by being able to read not just what they said but how they said it.

We see things from Willo’s point of view throughout and his point of view is pretty limited since he grew up outside of main stream society. He is left in the dark a lot about what is really going on and further more often doesn’t care because so much of what happened to bring about the ice age and society’s collapse is just completely outside of his circle of things he cares about. Willo is very practical, they are in an ice age now and that’s what needs to be dealt with, he’s concerned with survival not politics. That being said there is a lot of politics between the lines that is sailing right over Willo’s head but is there for the reader to understand and piece together. The final picture will leave you cold.

After the Snow was written in response to Snowmageddon back in 2009, when the U.K. found itself buried alive and London simply shut down for a few days. What if it kept on snowing? What if winter never ended? What would modern society do, and how would it function and survive, in the midst of an ice age? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.

I received this book for free to review.

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