BookBrowse Reviews After the Snow by S. D. Crockett

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

After the Snow

by S. D. Crockett

After the Snow by S. D. Crockett X
After the Snow by S. D. Crockett
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2013, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A stark meditation on our possible future, and an opportunity to reflect on how we live now

In recent years, there's been much speculation about the various ways in which global warming might affect land, weather, water, wildlife, and even culture, but most of the rhetoric revolves around that keyword, "warming."  Few of us have probably stopped to envision what might happen if climate change moved in the other direction. That's exactly what S. D. Crockett has done in her stunning debut novel, After the Snow, in which she imagines a Britain plunged into darkness and bitter cold.

The year is 2059. At the center of the novel is 15-year-old Willo Blake, who remembers nothing of the world before the ice and snow that characterize the apocalyptic landscape in which he lives. His world is also a brutal one, as a nebulous power structure seizes the city's means of production, and uses bureaucratic barriers and threats of violence (not to mention violence itself) as a means of keeping the already starving population further suppressed. Readers encounter this world through Willo's own observations, delivered in a lyrical but idiosyncratically colloquial first-person narration that offers an oblique commentary on the disintegration of cultural—including linguistic patterns—in this cold new world. The style of narration might remind some older readers of Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker.

After the Snow (targeted at young adults but with appeal for older readers) opens with Willo witnessing his family - who have been able to remain outside of government scrutiny thanks to their secluded location on a remote mountain - being herded onto trucks and driven away. Willo is determined to find them, but when he accidentally encounters a starving girl, Mary, and her younger brother, he is surprised to discover that he can't simply walk away, that perhaps he is capable of more compassion towards a stranger than he initially thought. In the beginning of the novel, Willo is immersed deeply in his own imagination - talking only to himself and to the imaginary dog who accompanies him - but Mary, with her combination of fragility and surprising talents, continues to surprise Willo and to draw him out of himself and back into the realm of human interaction.

When Willo and Mary sneak their way into the city, Willo - who is largely unfamiliar with urban life - must negotiate an unfamiliar landscape and navigate alien social interactions while wrestling with his responsibility both to his family and to Mary. Crockett's narrative offers an intimate, dramatic glimpse into Willo's bleak world and his rather extraordinary coming of age.

The animalistic nature of humanity is right on the surface in After the Snow. Willo wears a dog skull as a helmet at the novel's opening, so he can "get the power of the dog strong inside me." In a particularly harrowing scene, Mary and Willo are beset by a pack of starving, half-wild dogs; when they travel to the city and witness the brutality that the residents inflict on one another, it's easy to draw parallels between the instinctual violence of animals, and the more shocking cruelty and brutality of humans. Willo's attempts to recognize and overcome these impulses, while living up to his father's call to be "beacons of hope," is a central motif of the novel.

The world Crockett has created might be extreme in a number of ways, but it's likely to prompt readers to consider the role of evil, compassion, brutality, and cooperation in their own contemporary lives too. Willo is always curious about the time before the snow; he recalls his father's words: "All the bad things been waiting, kind of hiding under the ground like the grass wait under the snow for summer to come. Except they ain't been good things like grass but bad things - all the angry things and hungry things, and my dad say 'the animal bit' inside people's heads."

After the Snow offers readers both a warning - a stark meditation on what might happen in the future - and an opportunity to reflect on how we live, and who we are in the world, now.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in April 2012, and has been updated for the September 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Current Ice Age

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...
  • Book Jacket: Memories of the Future
    Memories of the Future
    by Siri Hustvedt
    I've never kept a journal, but my mother has written in hers for years, the annual volumes she's ...
  • Book Jacket: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
    Rajeev Balasubramanyam encapsulates the theme of Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss in its first ...
  • Book Jacket: The Workshop and the World
    The Workshop and the World
    by Robert P. Crease
    The longest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace, is losing roughly 12 feet of ice height each year. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Greek to Me
    by Mary Norris

    The Comma Queen returns with a buoyant book about language, love, and the wine-dark sea.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Fly Girls
by Keith O'Brien

How five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Ecstasy

Win copies to share with friends or your book club!

Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.