Publisher: MacMillan Children's Books.
Release date: February 2nd 2012.
Hardcover, 320 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen
The oceans stopped working before Willo was born, so the world of ice and snow is all he’s ever known. He lives with his family deep in the wilderness, far from the government’s controlling grasp. Willo’s survival skills are put to the test when he arrives home one day to find his family gone. It could be the government; it could be scavengers—all Willo knows is he has to find refuge and his family. It is a journey that will take him into the city he’s always avoided, with a girl who needs his help more than he knows.
The one thing that struck me the most about S.D. Crockett’s novel After the Snow is that it is almost the exact polar opposite of Moira Young’s Blood Red Road. In many ways the plots are nearly parallel in their reflections of each other. As the story progresses differences are seen, but I found the similarities to be uncanny. Teachers looking for solid dystopian to add to a Lit. Circle unit should definitely read both of these books. The lesson possibilities are endless.
After the Snow tells the story of 17-year-old Willo who lives in the mountains with his father, stepmother, and a slew of half-siblings. Life is difficult because Willo’s family are considered “stragglers” who are living outside of the law. Due to this it is difficult for the family to make a decent living, but they get by through trapping and what little farming they can do. Another obstacle they have to face is the fact that there is snow on the ground from September through May. Global warming has destroyed the polar ice caps, which have made the oceans colder, changing the air into a frigid blanket covering the earth. Unfortunately, as the book begins Willo’s family has been discovered and taken away by the government. Willo has no choice but to travel to the city, which is run like a WWII ghetto, to try and rescue them. Throughout his journey Willo discovers what it really means to survive and that his father was not just the simple trapper Willo thought him to be.
Willo is probably one of the most interesting characters I have read. He definitely takes some getting used too. The loneliness of living isolated on a snowy mountain comes through very vividly through Willo’s thoughts and actions. He wears a dog skull, which he talks to throughout the book, on his head. It is apparent that Willo feels that he is more dog than human, but as his adventure progresses he realizes that he needs to rely on his own instincts, and not the dog’s, to keep himself alive.
There are parts of the story where the plot seems to drag. I think this was mainly due to the dialogue that the book is written in. Unlike in Blood Red Road I found Willo’s voice to slow the story down. There were many times when I needed to stop and reread sections that I had missed completely. I really never got used to Willo’s voice and had a difficult time getting through some of the more descriptive parts of the story.
One aspect I really liked was that the author explained how the world came to be such a frozen wasteland and how the government evolved from a democracy into martial law. I think this helps the reader to really visualize and understand the world that has been created. The author also does a great job of throwing in plot twists that you will never see coming. Just when you think that Willo is about to find his happily ever after a major development occurs that you will never see coming. That part I reread because I couldn’t believe what had just happened!
After the Snow is a story that dystopian fans will not want to miss. It is very well written and engaging. The ending leaves room for a sequel, but the story could also be a stand alone, although I am hoping the author decides to share more of Willo’s adventures.