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{March 20, 2012}   {ARC Review} After the Snow by S.D Crockett

From Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

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In all honesty, I spent the majority of this novel thinking that I really didn’t like it and that it was a bit boring and not my style, and there are many different reasons why I felt this way.  In the beginning, I had a very difficult time deciphering what was happening.  Willo speaks in a dialect that was not necessarily hard to understand, but more so annoying to deal with.  I haven’t read many books where the entire story is written in a dialect, but I’ve heard they’re out there, and this is definitely one of them.  Willo narrates the story, so he tells it all through his broken English, and although this sets the novel apart from most other YA novels on this basis alone, it’s not a style that everyone will enjoy.  While I can understand dialects in novels fairly easily, Willo’s grammar grated on my nerves throughout nearly the entire story, and the part that really got me was his constant referral to the dog skin he wore and the dog that talked to him.  That part really threw me throughout the entire novel because I wasn’t sure if Willo was delusional or just had an imaginary pet to help pass the loneliness.  But… he hears the dog speak to him on many an occasion and I, personally, just found that weird in terms of the story.

Aside from the dialect, I also found the story to be a bit bland.  Willo spends the majority of the story arguing in his head, in the dialect, with the dog, and I really didn’t feel like there was much of a story to be had since all Willo did was talk to himself.  Now, while there was obviously more to the story than that, this is the aspect of the story that really stood out to me, and it wasn’t until Willo made it into the city that I felt like the story began to pick up at all, and even then, it was at a very slow pace.

However, when I got to the last quarter of the book, I found that it picked up and I ended up liking it, especially with the twists and turns that began to take place.  Up until this point, I felt that the novel was just a continuous portrayal of everyday hardships, with Willo wandering here and there thinking about his father, but in the end, I found that there was a rhyme and a reason for everything that Crockett put into his story (except the dog), and I ended up liking it, overall.  I would have loved it if the entire story flowed the way the last quarter did, with suspense and intrigue, but I’m at least thankful that there was a good ending to this novel.  It somewhat reminded me of Waterworld in a way—at least the ending did, so if you liked that movie, you might like this book.  Three stars.

Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on March 27, 2012

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+JMJ+

This sounds intriguing to me. I’ve loved survival stories since I read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet as a teen–and if they are set in snowy places, all the better! It’s a little disappointing to read that the pacing is slow until the last quarter, but I know from experience that I can be patient with “slow” stories, so that isn’t a deal breaker for me. It’s also good to know that everything in the plot has a purpose; I like storytellers who are “economical” like that. =)

(Well, the dog might be really random . . . but I’m a huge dog lover, so I don’t mind! LOL!)



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