Sunday 5 February 2012

Book Review - After The Snow

Title: After The Snow
Author: S.D.Crockett
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date: 2 Feb 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0230759350

"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 . . . 

My Review
I went to the book launch party for this book last week and received a free copy which I got signed by the author. Everyone there was really excited about this book and I was feeling the buzz. I was eager to get started but had to finish the book i was already reading for work and so had to put this one aside for a couple of days. I was feeling the pressure a bit, hoping I would love it as I had seen so much excitement for it, but I have to be honest in my review.
I ended up reading this book in three different sittings. I'm going to split this review into the things I struggled with and the things I really enjoyed. There were definitely aspects of both and this book has me a bit torn really. I'll start with the negatives.
When I first picked up the book I really struggled, it's written in a sort of broken English, none of the sentences are fully structured sentences, which I found very hard to read. Sometimes I would have to re-read the 'sentence' a couple of times to get what was being said. I struggled for quite a while, it was about page 55 before i found a rhythm that I could read it to, once I had found the rhythm though I started to enjoy the story. 
However every time I put the book down for whatever reason, when I came back to it, it would take a few pages to get back into the rhythm so it became very disjointed and a bit frustrating. I don't know if the author was trying to make a point with the language, it probably did have a purpose, but for me it jsut didn't work properly. 
At 307 pages this should have taken me about 2 and a half hours to read, but in total it actually took about 6 hours I think.
Also the whole 'Dog' thing really confused me. Why would he have a dog skull on his head as a hat and why would he think it could talk to him? And it's not like it's a permanent thing, one minute the 'dog' would be giving out all sorts of advice, arguments etc, then it would go like 4 chapters without appearing. Was the dog supposed to be a sort of conscience? or a Spirit Guide? or an imaginary friend? I'm really not sure. Had me puzzled, I preferred the chapters where the dog didn't feature.
That's it for the negatives, two things that didn't work for me. Maybe I was missing a point, but for me, it just missed the mark. But now onto the positives.
The descriptions in the book are great, I had a perfect image in my head throughout the story as to what the places and people would look like, I could follow the character on his journey and have a perfect visual of where he was going. I really entered into the snowy landscape.
Once I got past the language issue, I did like Willo as a character, he comes of as strange and a bit simple at the beginning, but you see him grow and become more sensible, and you see he has got a big heart, he goes back and helps a little girl and a puppy in the book, even when he knows there is a risk. He has a good sense of right and wrong and a determination to help. He has a good head on his shoulders, but still makes mistakes like all humans. Although I'm still not sure how old he was supposed to be.
Mary, the little girl he rescues is another great character, I really liked her, she had determination to survive and a good instinct. I love how she can keep Willo in line even though he is older than her (i think). I love her moments of vulnerability, made me want to hug her.
The overall plot is good, Willo's hunt for his missing family is a good idea, and you see him grow and change throughout. I'm unsure about the ending, I did feel that his time in the city dragged a bit, it was like really slow then BAM big ending, lots of fighting and running etc, then a sense of calm and achievement. Although looking at the bigger picture it seemed like a long journey that didn't end up really going anywhere.  Maybe there will be a book 2 and it will progress there, who knows.
I really am torn with this book, there were bits that I thought were spectacular and I can see why everyone was so excited, but there were also bits that I really didn't like. 
I would say, good to read as it's very different in style from other books, but I don't think I would read it again. 

My Rating

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