After the Snow by S.D. Crockett, published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 2nd February 2012
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...
I’d seen some mixed reviews of ‘After the Snow’ prior to reading it so I tried to approach the book with an open mind. It doesn’t easily fit into the dystopian genre although this is how it could be pigeonholed as the story is set in a barren future wilderness. The book features fifteen year old Willo whose entire family disappears leaving him to survive alone in the cold snow of a bleak ice age.
Narrated by Willo himself, it took me a while to adjust to the style of narration which consists of his inner thoughts and ramblings. He doesn’t have a very wide vocabulary and his inner monologues are often quite short and stilted, so it was several chapters into the book before I was able to read fluently without taking so much notice of his unusual style. After a while it did seem to actually suit the book but overall I did find it difficult to get on with.
I really like books which feature one character battling against the elements and having to survive against all the odds and this seemed to sum up Willo perfectly. Although he does make several friends along the way, including Mary who he takes under his wing, he still seems a lone figure for most of the book even when in the company of others. But he’s quick-witted and has the survival instinct embedded deep inside him which always made me feel confident that he would come out on top in the end.
The overall message of the book seemed to be about having hope and believing in a better future even when things look bleak. Although I found this inspiring, I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed with ‘After the Snow’ as I was hoping for a gripping, dystopian read with interesting and appealing characters but didn’t feel that the book quite delivered all this.