Title: After the Snow
By: S.D. Crockett
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Rating: PG-13 (language and violent/gore content)
Coffee Beans: 2/5. For reals
Spoilers: yes, some.
Favorite Line: The whole world and everything in it shining in the weak sun like it just been born. (pg 277, ebook) & "I'm sorry. I am." I put out my hand. But it's just a flame in that beating rain. (pg 281, ebook)
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for this honest review
To date, there's only one book I've ever not finished, and it's Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement. You can read my BR to find out why. So, I was very discouraged when I started reading After the Snow, and by page 4 I was thinking to myself, DANG IT! This is going to be another book I won't be able to finish. But, I plowed through, and I'm just going to come out and say it:
I didn't like this book.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. The cover's pretty awesome. The summary sounded promising. But for me, it fell far short of being a good book. The first half was boring, slow, and uneventful. The second half was exponentially better, filled with action, substance, and characters, but it was too little, too late and couldn't make up for the first half.
I'm going to save you some valuable reading time.
Ready? Here we go.
Skip chapters 1 – 16. Trust me. You won't miss anything. Only a whole lot of backstory. In fact, to make you feel better, I'll sum up what happens so you feel like you know what's going on when you start reading at chapter 17:
Summary for the first half of the book (Ch. 1 – 16):
15-year-old boy (Willo) is crazy. Like, certifiable. Talks to himself & wears a dead dog's head on top of his to get strength and power. The dog talks to him and he talks back. Willo goes home, finds his entire family and everyone else (it's vague as to who that is) missing and decides to go after them. On his way to the neighbors' (whom he suspects of being involved), he meets and takes with him a girl named Mary. They fight off some wolves, then run and hide. Then he takes her to a cave, then they walk some more (in the snow, of course) towards the neighbor's.
I have just summed up the first 102 pages.
Now you can start reading the book from chapter 17 on, where it gets substantially better.
The book wasn't all bad, just mostly. And that's strictly my opinion. There are A LOT of 4 and 5 star reviews out there of this book. Go and read them. Some people really liked what was between pages 1 and 304. I, however, was not one of them. Let me explain why I chose the lowest rating I've ever given a book:
- Let's start with the setting. I know it's snowing. I know it's cold. I know Willo is in the mountains. But that's all I know. What year is it? What's the "world" this story takes place in like? Besides the few vague stereotypical description for a post-apocalyptic setting I had no idea what I was supposed to be picturing, which made it hard for me to be really invested into the story
- I found the main character, Willo, to be confusing at best. He's insane with moments of clarity, but he's constantly contradicting himself to the point of confusing the reader. And these contradictions happen only sentences apart. Which leads me to believe the author is giving credence to the protag's craziness, but it's not streamlined enough to be smooth.
- The first 102 pages were a waste of my time that I could have spent reading something else. Absolutely nothing pivotal to the story happened that couldn't have been summed up by the in a few sentences from the protag's POV
- Willo's 15/16 in this book, but the maturity of the character that comes through is far younger. In fact, Mary, who's 13/14, seems far more mature than her traveling partner. Plus, Willo's one crazy cat (and not in an artsy kind of way). Talks to himself. A lot. Talks to a dead dog that sits on his head. A lot. Hmmm…hard to get around and accept for me. And he seems very unemotional about the fact that his family is missing. In fact, I wasn't invested into any of the characters until page 151. 151, people. That ain't good
- The voice of the story—the style it's written in—is difficult to adjust to. It's written in a very primitive, uneducated style—which I can understand because Willo's lived in the mountains his entire life and isn't all that educated—but it's overdone to the point of being annoying and distracting. I thought that maybe it would be like Blood Red Road by Moira Young and I'd get used to it and fall in love with it, but here, I found myself skimming over a majority of the narrative, kinda like I did in Spanish class during tests. I got the main idea of the page, but didn't care to understand anymore. And the text is sectioned off weird at times; I still haven't figured out why
- What the heck is Willo's goal? It's all over the place, and when he does have one, it's unfocused. Meandering. When he discovers his family missing, he wants to find them. Then, when he thinks he knows who the traitor is ("married" to his sister) he wants revenge. Then he comes across Mary, one thing leads to another, and they find themselves in the city. He still has his distracted goal of getting to the culprit (and his sister). Then he gets separated from Mary. Then he bunks with a nice old man and his wife for the winter. His new goal is to find Mary. Wait, what about that goal of finding his family? He gets back to that. Then his goal is escape and heading back up to the hills. But wait, Mary! Once reunited, their goal is to get to the sea to get on the ships with the Resistance to get to some islands. Then they change their minds and want to go south. See what I mean?
- The ending made me mad. NOTHING was resolved. NOTHING
- Crockett, at times, has beautiful imagery and a very simple way of saying things that resonates truth (thanks to Willo's simple way of thinking and isolation from the "real" world)
- The second half of the book was packed with tension and action and all-around great writing and storytelling. If the book had held that impact from the beginning, this would've been a VERY different BR
- The cover
Look, as always, read it for yourself. It wasn't for me, but it may be for you. It's never fun writing BR's for books I didn't like. The author worked hard on the book. They love it. I just hope there are more people out there that love it more than me.
Happy reading, my friends!