Thursday, January 10, 2013

After The Snow

After the Snow
by S. D. Crockett
304 pages
Middle School+

One of the YALSA 2013 Best of Best Challenge!

Long before Willo was born, the snow began.  And every winter grew longer. And the seas stopped working.  His world is all about surviving the cold, and using what is left of the summer to prepare for the cold to come. He and his family trap animals, sell the fur and make due with what they got.

Then one day his family is taken from him.  As he is out checking his snares, he hears screaming and shouting from his home.  He cautiously come back to see what is happening.  By the time he gets there, every one is gone.  But as he is gathering some things from his home, a shadow passes by- scavengers coming back to get what the others left.  Willo hides for the night, cold in the attic, until he knows it is safe to come out once more.

With limited supplies, Willo sets out to find a new place to survive.  As he is climbing the mountain, he passes a home with one little girl and one little boy left in it.  He says hi, then leaves them.  That night, in his little safe haven, he thinks about them all through the night.  He can't get them out of his mind.  But how is he supposed to take care of them, when he can barely survive by himself?

Just to get it out in the open- not one I will recommend (except to maybe a very limited audience).  It took me about 60 pages to get to the point where I even slightly wanted to read more.  It starts that slowly.  That first part is all in his head about his dog spirit, and how it's telling him to do this or that.  Not very fun, entertaining, or even building up tension for a story.  Just took me forever to get into this book.

Second, the narration style is stream of conscious, or Willo's thought process, and it is spelled like he says it- "cos" instead of because, lots of "ain't" and missing of proper grammar.  Not that I'm a grammar perfectionist, but it annoyed me to no end.  Because of the stream of conscious story telling, the story can jump around a little, and felt very choppy. One moment he would be thinking about one thing, and then all of a sudden, you would be remembering something, or changing the topic.  While that is how some people (including myself, often) think, this is not the best story telling method.  I have read other stories that use this style, and work, but this one did not draw me into it.

In addition to the strange story telling method, the story itself seemed to jump at times.  It would give us lots of detail in one area, and then weeks or months would go by in a sentence.  The flow was very inconsistent, and that inconsistency seemed to flow over to the characters as well.  One minute Willo can't wait to get out of the town, and then the next, he's settling in for the winter.  You lose an important character for chapters, only to have them come back later. I did not like the flow of the story, just as much as I did not like the flow of the narrative.

I will have to say the concept of the book is interesting.  I ended up liking Willo by the end, despite the weird narrative.  He grew considerably, just not necessarily at the times I thought he would have.

Overall, not one I will recommend tons.  Maybe to a boy, who loves the outdoors, who talks/thinks in that manner.  But not to most people.  Alright storyline, but the telling and the narrative completely distracted me from it.  Some people might like it, but not me.

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