Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

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After the Snow
S.D. Crockett
Release date: March 27th, 2012
by Feiwel & Friends

Goodreads / Purchase

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?

*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*
I started After The Snow with high hopes. Post-apocalyptic books often become favorites or mine, thus I was looking forward to a story happening after Global Warming turns our planet into Snowmageddon. Unfortunately, it took me completely off guard with the bizarre writing style, then failed to captivate me with its unusual and slow-moving plot.

Writing in slang/dialect can be done well, look at Blood Red Road for example, which I loved. However, it’s a risk to take that will not always be taken well by all readers- which was the case for me and After The Snow. To give you an example: 

“The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me. The house look proper empty, don’t it, dog?” –quote in ARC of After the Snow


I could not, for the life of me, imagine a 15 year old boy when I was reading this; I kept thinking of him as 5 or 6 which made it extremely hard for me to relate to him or get drawn by his narration. It also caused details about the world building to slip through my fingers, leaving me feeling misled.

I do prefer a high-action plot, but slower paces can also end up thoroughly fascinating. At first it had a lot of potential to become a truly enthralling story, regrettably I never understood where the story was leading up to, which, in the end, left me highly disappointed. The characters’ intentions are never made clear, so I was constantly confused as to what the story actually was about. I was also thrown off by strange events and behaviors throughout the novel, like cannibalism, talking to a dog skull, wearing this dog skull, the dog talking back – really this dog disturbed me to no end. For these reasons and lack of explanations, the plot simply was not one I could easily swallow, nor understand.

The setting is the one part I actually enjoyed. The never-ending snow, the mountains and even the disturbing caves; it’s all very well described with a lot of detailed scenery. This is what kept me going in the hopes that it would eventually tie off into a great, mysterious story.

I truly wanted to like this one, I do not enjoy writing negative reviews, at all, but sadly it has to be done. I can’t exactly recommend this one to many, although you can always give it a try as it seems to be a book that would enchant a select few who get a kick out of unorthodox stories with peculiar writing styles. 

1 Cold Espresso
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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21 Responses to “Review: After the Snow by S.D. Crockett”

  1. Amy

    Yuck, cold espresso. 🙁 It’s too bad this wasn’t very good. It sounds like it could have been a great book. I do agree that writing in dialects can work, but it is very hard to do convincingly. I loved it in Blood Red Road, but I have read other books where it didn’t work at all, and was actually very distracting and bothersome. I think I will pass on this one. We tend to like the same books, so if you didn’t enjoy this I probably won’t either.

  2. Maja

    I find it interesting that we both have one star reviews today, especially since we both so rarely do. I’ll stay far away from this one, it sounds like one of those confusing, pointless stories I can certainly live without.

    Great review, Giselle. Thanks for taking one for the team… again.

  3. Bookish Brunette

    I know what you mean about the slang chick…. It can either ADD to the book or completely take away from it…. That quote would put me off too! The premisise does sound awesome though!!

  4. Carina

    Thanks so much for your honest review, Giselle! I’ve never really planned on reading this one, but now I’m quite glad about that. Definitely doesn’t sound like something I’d end up liking despite other people not liking it. 😀

    Carina
    Fictional Distraction

  5. Shortskie

    Aww a cold espresso :C Sorry to hear you didn’t like it Giselle, but slow plots, connectable characters, and failure of slang within a novel. Things like that fail to grasp my attention or even make me to not want to continue. Unfortunately, I need to read this for review, so now I’m not looking forward to opening this book up. Thank you for the review!

    Shortskie
    Rondo of a Possible World

  6. Shellie

    I still haven’t picked this one back up. I may give it a try again but don’t know. It was very hard for me to get into and that was only the first chapter or so.

  7. Sarah

    Ugh. See I can’t get into books with slang at all. Even Blood Red Road I couldn’t get past the lack of quotes around dialog. It’s a risky thing to do. I have yet to read a book that I enjoyed with TOO much slang in it.

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but that alone would probably put me off from the start. Nice review btw. It can be really tough to write negative reviews, but you did a good job at describing the problems as opposed to just bashing. 🙂

    ♥ Sarah @ I’m Loving Books

  8. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    Ohhh, no! Not you too, lol. Now my hope is really going down the drain here! I talked to many who had issues with this one, but I hoped maybe someone who usually feels the same about books will give me some hope! *sigh* I have to say I’m scared to pick it up now. ._. Great review though! It’s never fun to write negative ones, but you handle it extremely well!

  9. Candace

    I’ve never had any inclination to read this book but your review has me thinking it’s definitely not one I’d enjoy. Thanks for your honesty!

  10. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Aw, too bad! I’ve had a couple non-starters and DNFs lately, too. Strange behaviors (and ickiness with dogs–NO!) and odd dialects can work but most of the time it’s just gimmicky.

  11. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    You know, I think the dialect thing is really a huge hit-or-miss phenomenon. And it’s really fascinating, when it works and when it doesn’t. It’s too bad you didn’t love this one, but your review is well-said – it is hard writing a professional, negative review, but you did it, Giselle.

    (P.S. The whole dog thing does sound creepy, for real.)

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  12. Lexie

    You’ve probably done it before, but I think this is the first time I remember seeing you give one star/espresso (the cold part made me laugh >_> <_<). That alone would make me hesitant to try this one out. But then, between your review, that quote, and the other reviews I've seen . . . definitely won't be buying this one. May check it out of the library just for the lulz.

  13. Kat Balcombe

    Are you calling me unorthodox and peculiar?! Just joking, but it’s a shame you didn’t enjoy it.

    Strangely, I had so many MORE problems with the dialect in Blood Red Road and After the Snow took me only half a dozen pages to get over it.

    Great to read your opinion though 🙂

  14. Mark Taylor

    The discussion you have raised about dialect and slang is an interesting one. The word ‘yuck’ for example did not enter the language until the late 60’s . Ending a sentence with “for real” just perhaps 10 years ago would have seemed like nonsense. And what does “I know what you mean about the slang chick” actually mean? What is slang chick? Is there perhaps a missing comma and that chick is some sort of term of endearment and no longer holding the sexist insulting connotation it did until recently. Do you see what I mean? Typical of many youngsters today (and I find this a lot teaching 11th and 12th grade literature) you confuse not understanding something with it being bad (and I believe that word has recently returned to its original meaning of being not good). Reading is not a passive experience. Sometimes you need to really engage with a text to understand it. An interesting exercise would be to write a few pages told in the voice of a young teen, uneducated, having grown up in a wilderness some 50 years from now – no television, no radio, no magazines, no school, only brutal survival. Or to write about something from the pov of someone who does not understand what is going on — laying clues in the confusion as to what is actually happening. Of course this relies on a reader’s ability to read between the lines. We need to figure out what Huck Finn thinks is happening vs what is actually happening — to take a ‘classic’ example. Read The Color Purple and you are seeing the world through the yes of someone very different to yourself. Yes, a lot of the time it wont make immediate sense. This approach to literature is what I try to inspire within my own students. What do you think “proper empty” means? Anyone? Why do YOU think Willo is so good at describing the scenery in such vivid detail and yet is lost in the going ons of the city and the motivation of the government powers? Can YOU bring to his situation some understanding?

  15. Giselle

    @Mark: Slang wasn’t my biggest problems with the book. It’s that it was dull. Nothing happened – I still have no idea what it was about. And “proper empty” is NOT whY I don’t like that quote. It’s written like a 5 year old who talks to a dog skull, I could not stand it.