Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
a boy and his dog at the end of the world (C.A. Fletcher)
Title: a boy and his dog at the end of the world
Author: C.A. Fletcher
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)
The title, cover, and dystopian nature is what made me want to read this book. I love end-of-the-world stories. While I enjoyed many parts of this book, it didn’t completely float me boat. It ended up being only an okay read due to me personal preferences.
I really did find the premise to be interesting. The end of the world has come and gone and humans are headed for extinction. There are only about 7000 of them left scattered across the globe. Griz lives on an island in Scotland with his mother, father, two siblings, ponies, and dogs. Their closest and only neighbors are on another island quite a bit away.
The family is seemingly content in life but one day another ship with red sails is spotted on the horizon. The trader comes to swap tales but uses trickery to steal from the family. Only one of the stolen items is Griz’s dog, Jess. Griz is determined to follow and get his dog back.
The introduction to the world was lovely and unusual. The book is written in the style of a journal where the intended reader is a long-dead person Griz only knows via a photograph. It sounds odd but it does work. I was interested in how the world worked and the explanations of how the apocalypse happened. Getting into the novel took a minute because of the unique structure but I was engaged up until the moment Griz decides to go after the trader and his dog.
That is when the book began to lose its me. The boy decides to sail after the trader with very little preparation or thinking. Stupid choices are made over and over again and seemed unrealistic. The mainland is a dangerous place and yet those dangers seemed muted so that Griz could survive. It seems like 150 years would not have been enough time for the environmental damages to have been mitigated. Plus structures have been breaking down and are strewn across the landscape and yet Griz climbs on and around them with very little problem. I just didn’t really feel that Griz was in actual danger.
Because this journal has been written after the events they portray, there are some foreshadowing moments that perk interest. But there is also a lot of attempted philosophizing about what the world used to be like and how long-dead-reader would have felt about things in both the past and present. A lot of it was repetitive. So the action stalled and very little distance was actually travelled. I got a bit bored.
It got better when Griz meets his first person on the mainland. Even though they don’t speak a common language, the bond they form is wonderful. I loved almost the whole section The only downside is when wolves attack Griz and his companion. This was completely unrealistic and silly. Griz talks continuously about how plentiful game is. Rabbits, deer, wild boar, etc. are everywhere. The wolves would have had absolutely no reason to attack people and a horse. Especially when fire was present. Wolves don’t do that and I get tired of these animals being used as a convenient plot point.
Once the two humans split up, the book took another turn that was not to me taste. I thought Griz was going to track down the trader and have a reckoning. But other spoilery things happen that seemed too ridiculous and I didn’t buy it. There were just too many arbitrary coincidences and the resolution just seemed too perfect. The happy ending seems to have warmed the hearts of the crew though. I am in the minority about not liking the twist.
I have no regrets about reading this book and it has lovely characters, thoughts, and ideas. I would have just preferred a different take on the whole situation. But I do think that most readers will love it just as it is. Arrrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank ye Orbit Books!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts.
My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.
My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.
Then the thief came.
There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.
Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?
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