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Before I start with my thoughts on After the Snow, there’s a pretty big potential annoyance that I have to mention. This book is written in dialect/slang – so if you’re a grammar Nazi, or have trouble ‘giving voice’ to this style of dialogue be aware that you might want to try a sample before buying. Having said that, this is something that I normally find more irritating than fingernails down a blackboard, but it wasn’t an issue for me in After the Snow and personally I wouldn’t have found the main character quite as fascinating if it had been written without the dialect/slang.
The world has become a place of ice, snow and blizzards, and humanity is scratching out a living on the very edges. The government has rounded up the remnants of society and put them to work for the greater good, trying to maintain the basics of infrastructure whilst throwing together ‘settlements’. Willo and his family are stragglers, living off the grid in the mountains, trying to survive, but at least they are together. Until one day Willo returns to the farmhouse to find everyone gone.
Determined to find his family, Willo encounters a young girl named Mary, on the edge of starvation and hypothermia in an abandoned farmhouse. Despite his need to press on and find his family, after some inner turmoil, Willo decides to try and help her return to the settlements.
The storyline of After the Snow is classic post-apocalyptic/dystopic YA – a strong, determined main character with an unlikely partner (I won’t say love interest as it definitely doesn’t start out as that kind of relationship) on a journey across a devastated country.
Where After the Snow was a different experience for me was definitely Willo. At 15 years old, he seems at times younger than his years, and at others much older and wiser – an imaginable reflection of growing up in a world so very different to ours today. Mentally tough and determined, pushing himself through physical exertion, is brave enough to face whatever comes along without any unnecessary dramatics and has a deep sense of responsibility and caring for the people closest to him. I found him intriguing, endearing and I couldn’t help but hope for the best for him all the way through until the end.
The world-building is excellent, and the writing is bleak, intense and free-flowing even during periods where the action isn’t exactly rolling at breakneck speed and there is a perfect amount of explanation of the environmental, political and socio-economic fallout of the new ice-age.
Ending with heart-stopping action and Willo realising some important things about himself, the world around him and his place in it, I highly recommend After the Snow to anyone!