Book Review: After the Snow

After the Snow
By: S.D. Crockett
Published By: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 2012
Page Count: 304
Source: Amazon Vine UK Program
Audience: Young Adult - Dystopian

Willo is a young boy who finds himself abandoned in the middle of the snow covered mountains of Snowdonia, Wales. He grew up on the mountain with his family, who have all disappeared, and it is up to him to decide what to do. He has to figure out where to go, how to defend himself from packs of wild dogs, and what he should do with Mary, a young girl he finds nearly starving and freezing to death also abandoned on the mountain. He survives the early days of his struggle for survival by listening to an inner voice, Dog, who he imagines to be the spirit of a wild dog. Dog guides him and calms Willo down through his moments of panic. 

Willo gradually finds out more about the world in which he lives, where oil has run out, solar generated electricity is controlled solely by China and food is in short supply during the harsh winter. He experiences life in the city as well as out in the wilds, and he has to watch out for all kinds of people who could kill him. For much of the book he is at a loss for what to do next. He falls into scrape after scrape, making friends in unlikely places, and all the time wondering why his family were spirited away from him. I also wondered what was going on... I found it refreshing but also frustrating to be reading from the point of view of a fairly ignorant and illiterate fifteen year old boy. It was difficult to see further ahead in the story because Willo was so reactionary, and I found that I wasn't able to look forward to anything, so that really hampered my desire to pick it up and keep reading.

There were certainly many scenes of intense action, which were exciting enough, but I found that this pace ebbed and flowed a little too much. I pushed myself to keep reading this one really, it was good but not the sort of thing which kept me turning the pages. I thought there was a pretty good plot device revealed at the end of the story where I genuinely stopped reading in shock for a moment. I also found the language to be really rather strong for a book which was so young in its approach; I don't mind swearing but it seemed a little incongruous here. All in all, it was a new take on the dystopian genre for me; it didn't quite fit as I felt the vision of the future was really very realistic, and for that reason I found it interesting. 

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?