Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Published: 1st February 2012
I'm gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching. Ain't nothing moving down there. The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house grey 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?
You just sit quiet in these rocks Willo.
Set in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, After The Snow is the story of fifteen-year-old Willo, a "straggler" kid who loses his family in the opening pages. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery – with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him. Meanwhile, across Britain, outlawed followers of survivalist John Blovyn are planning an escape to the fabled Islands talked of in a revolutionary book...
Even with the appeal of a dystopian snow-mageddon, this book didn't do it for me. The barren landscape was not explained, the random ice age did not make sense as Willo can remember playing in the sun and grass and he's only 15!
Willo's voice should have made for really interesting characterisation and from a literary stand-point, it is incredible written but for the most part, his terribly limited vocabulary and lack of understanding for tenses made it difficult and slow to read. At least for me; I read to relax, I really dislike having to concentrate on a book to understand it. His voice also misled his age and any description of his surroundings; it made him sound a lot younger, like a lost child in a world he doesn't understand, which isn't fair because he does. Willo is obviously a very skilled hunter for his age, he has adapted to the snow and mountains well.
The slow moving plot did not help; I like some slow-moving stories, it allows for really in-depth characterisation and description but Willo did nothing but wander round the snow and find Mary in the first 130 pages. Luckily, after they met other living people, as opposed to the dog in his head, it began to get interesting. Finally, some explanation! Well, kind of. I still don't understand the ever-falling snow and their society but neither did Willo and I suppose that's the point.
Despite the rushed political-based plot in the last 100 pages that did not live up to its potential, I felt an odd sense of completion once finished but I have no idea why, as I have no idea what just happened! But, if Willo feels like he can understand his father's motives and can live peacefully with Mary, then I guess I can't argue with that.