“I reckon the fire in the house probably gone out by now with no one to feed it cos everyone gone and I been sitting on the hill all day finding that out. Everyone got taken away cos I seen tracks in the snow. They all gone.
The others gone.
But I don’t know why.”
Willo’s never known a land without the snow. Long before he was born, the new ice age descended. It wasn’t easy for humans to adapt; now, most of them reside in poverty and compete for resources in crowded, filthy governmental cities-and they’re the lucky ones. Willo wasn’t from the city, though-he and his family were stragglers, living illegally in the mountains, far from civilization. There, they trapped animals, made their own candles, and lived off the land, trying to avoid being detected by officials determined to round them up and take them to the cities.
When Willo returns from a trip in the mountains to discover the rest of his family is missing, he knows that is what must have happened: they must have been trucked into the city. Now, if there’s any hope of surviving, he’s got to go and find his family. What he finds, though, is far more sinister.
You might have noticed by now: I love end of the world stories. They are equally terrifying and alluring, and I never get tired of playing How’s It All Gonna End. Apparently, I’m not alone out there, because post-apocalyptic books just like this one are all over the Young Adult shelves. This one is a particular favorite at my branch, especially this summer-possibly because the endless frozen landscapes are soothing when it’s 95 degrees for weeks on end. I think part the appeal is Willo’s voice: his dialect is distinctive. It feels like poetry of ain’ts and been dones and just gonnas, with incisive comments about human nature and survival. Another reason why it’s awesome: no preaching here. It’s easy for a dystopic novel to go into the whole sermon-the one titled: Hey Guys, You Messed Up the World and Now It’s Ruined and So You Best Start Recycling Now, Readers. And there’s a place for that, of course, but in my experience, it’s not in a book like this. And this book avoids it, without downplaying the seriousness of the situation. If you like survival stories, tense adventures, conspiracy theories, and stories about the end of things, this is one you’ll dig for sure. FURTHER BONUS: NO ROMANCE. For those of you who wanna barf every time there’s kissing all mixed up in your adventure novel, you’re all clear here.
Crockett, S.D. After the Snow. Feiwel & Friends, New York: 2012. 288 pp.
Now, if you liked this one, try these:
The Knife of Never Letting Go Both are survival stories, and they have similar protagonists and distinctive speech patterns.
Feed The two books share distinctive speech patterns, settings in a dystopian universe, and a sinister governments. Be warned, though-Feed is sort of set in outer space, so don’t come here looking for a mountain survival story.
Chime A female protagonist this time, set in the fictional, troubled land of Swampsea. The language of this book is beautiful and original-really special.
My Side of the Mountain Ok, it’s not set in the end of the world, and it was published a while ago, but it is THE. AWESOMEST. survival story ever, and I’ll never be tired of saying it.