A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

AboyA Boy and His Dog is one of those books that surpassed my expectations.  This is a well written story that conjures up a remarkable sense of tension but more than that, as a reader who has read plenty of post apocalyptic books it felt refreshingly different.

Why did this feel so original to me.  Well, firstly the nature of the adventure.  This is a very personal endeavour by a young character determined to retrieve a much loved pet.  He’s not going off to search for bounty, he’s not trying to find a solution to world problems, he’s not on the run from a pack of savages.  This is the case of a knee jerk reaction that could quite simply go right or wrong.  Secondly, this isn’t a story packed with zombies, there are no people with special powers caused as a result of some sort of nuclear fallout and it doesn’t involve huge swathes of people who have turned into cannibals.  This story has a much more personal feel and that’s an aspect that I really enjoyed.

I won’t discuss the world building too deeply.  People have basically lost the ability to reproduce and each successive generation having virtually died childless the human race almost came to extinction. A few small pockets of people remain – living almost in isolation and without the benefit of modern technology.  I like this aspect of the story and think it’s a great device because all the horror and the shedding of civility has been played out in the earlier years prior to this story.  What we now find instead is a story of people trying to survive, trying to come together occasionally to make alliances and attempting to hold on to the last hope of survival for the human race.

The story is told by Griz in the form of a journal.  This is a lovely way of telling the story, not only does Griz have a wonderful voice but this form of narration allows some introspection which wouldn’t take place if we were simply inside his head following events as they take place.  Griz and his family live on a small island off the coast of Scotland.  They have the use of a number of boats retrieved before everything fell completely into ruin and with a combination of fishing and foraging they manage to eek out a living.  One day a stranger approaches the island, his small boat immediately identifiable on the horizon by it’s unusual red sail.  Brand is a rather larger than life character, full of easy smiles and confidence.  He wants to trade with Griz’s family but makes a show of breaking bread first.  Come the morning and that distinctive red sail is sailing away from the island and one of Griz’s dog’s is missing.

I loved what happens next.  Griz, with no plan, no thought other than going after Brand and retrieving his dog Jess, jumps aboard his own boat and sails off.  These actions feel real. Griz, put simply, reacts, maybe not in the best way but certainly one that rings true.  There is no forward thinking and this is perhaps as well because as a young adult Griz has little chance of a one to one test of strength with Brand.  Basically, mistakes are made, regretted and made again!

Now begins the adventure.  I won’t elaborate further though because there are a few twists to this story, that I certainly didn’t see coming and don’t want to hint at here.  You’re on your own I’m afraid.

Another aspect that is really well done here and just lovely to read about is Griz’s simple wonder and amazement whenever he comes across something unusual or never before seen.  And you have to remember that he’s seen very little.  Eating a peach – who knew that finding ripe peaches could be such a joy.  It makes you reflect on all the things you take for granted.  There’s such a simplicity to life in this world that the smallest things can create joy and wonder.  Of course there are dangers too.  Not so much in the usual way you would expect from a post apocalyptic style book but nonetheless just as life threatening.  Nature once again holds sway, buildings have become crumbling ruins, roads and infrastructure have been invaded by trees and plants and wrecks and ruins can be difficult to navigate and often hold unexpected and nasty surprises.

There’s a loneliness here.  Griz isn’t used to being without his family and to an extent regrets some of his hasty decisions but his other dog keeps the lack of secondary characters from becoming too unbearable.  Jip is a great little character in himself.  A feisty terrier, really chipper and curious.  He keeps Griz and the reader in high spirits, always chasing rabbits and suffering alongside Griz whenever he’s feeling low.  Thankfully,  just as the tale was poised on the brink of maybe becoming too much of a one man story things changed.

I don’t really have any criticisms.  The author did a great job with the pacing and tension, just pulling things back from the edge whenever they started to suffer a little. Maybe one aspect of the ending was a little unexpected – not necessarily in a bad way but at the same time not a direction I was expecting.  There was also a tiny bit of a rushed feeling but this didn’t spoil the read for me at all.

At the end of the day I think A Boy and His Dog has all the signs of becoming a much loved book.  The age of Griz and the whole adventure feel will hold an appeal for many.  For older readers it will probably have a nostalgic feel from their youth when they thought they were invincible (or more to the point didn’t always consider the consequences), for younger readers it’s a great introduction to this style of story.  It has a young protagonist who is absolutely determined to win the day and it’s a book that is packed with emotion.  It made me want to cry at one point, it made my jaw drop with surprise at another and it had a conclusion that I just couldn’t have imagined. Now, just to be clear, there are a few sections of the book that are a little darker with some slightly unsavoury characters but this isn’t the overpowering feeling of the book.

If you think of the isolation of The Road, the great narrative voice of The Girl With All the Gifts and then combine them into an adventure without bucket loads of bloodshed, fighting and gore and you will almost have the beginnings of understanding where this book is coming from.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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27 Responses to “A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher”

  1. cupcakesandmachetes

    I have this on my TBR list. I’m glad to hear that it stands out in the post apocalyptic game.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s very original. I really liked it. I hope you get a chance to read it.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I’m going to make time for this one in June. It was one of my most anticipated reads and I have an arc, but when Booker T passed, I knew this book might break me. I’ve heard only wonderful things about it and all of my favorite and most trusted bloggers (present party included) love it so I have no doubt it will be one of my favorite reads of the year.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I can totally see how this book might break you at the moment. To be honest, it brought me to tears so it’s definitely going to bring you to them but it is a book with hope and I like that. And the descriptions of the dogs and the way they behave is just uplifting – because dogs are just so good.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    Awesome review, Lynn. I couldn’t agree with you more. I simply loved everything about Griz and Jip and this will always be a book I remember😁

  4. Susy's Cozy World

    I wasn’t so interested in this book, because it’s not my cup of tea… Post-apocalyptic aren’t really for me but all the reviews I have read say interesting and captivating thing… And now I have that book on my TBR… That’s not good. Not good at all!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, give it a shot I say, it’s different from the norm and I would be keen to see what you think.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Paul's Picks

    Wonderful review! I loved this one and have been telling all kinds of people about it.

  6. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    “”It makes you reflect on all the things you take for granted””
    The perfect definition of one of the most important themes of this book, that to truly appreciate something we might need to lose it – just as much as Griz needs to have one of the dogs stolen to understand their real value as friends and companions.
    This book will stay with me for a long, long time…
    Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yep, there’s nothing like losing something to help you discover just how much it meant – and reading Griz’s joy in discovery was just great.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Yes, the mood reminded me a lot of The Girl with All the Gifts, now that you mention it. There’s a beauty to all that loneliness and isolation!

  8. pagesandtea

    Talk about timing – I just got my library notification that this book arrived for me then read your review which has made me even more eager to go and collect it. If it’s a bit similar in tone to The Girl with All the Gifts then I really can’t wait 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I mean in plot it’s nothing like The Girl but the tone just puts me in mind and the great voice.
      I hope you love it – I thought it was a really good read.
      Lynn 😀

  9. bkfrgr

    Ha! So cool – this turned up in a delivery at work the other day (I’ve read one other review that also said it was really good – can’t remember who by, though). Now I’m really excited to start it. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it – I thought it was well done and really quite original. I’ll look out for your thoughts.
      Lynn 😀

  10. jessicabookworm

    Until seeing it on your blog, I had not heard of or seen this book. I do like post-apocalyptic stories and I love furry companions, so this sounds like something I would enjoy, especially as you said it isn’t full of bloodshed or really grim or dark.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Jessica, I think you would like this one. It’s not quite as bloodthirsty as some of its peers and is quite a hopeful story.
      Lynn 😀

  11. waytoofantasy

    I really want to read this one! At first I wasn’t sure if it would be my type of book but hearing all about it and comparing it to The Girl with All the Gifts, I have to check it out now. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s not really like The Girl With All the Gifts in terms of storyline but more in tone I would say. I actually think you would like it because it does differ from a lot of books that fall into the post apocalyptic gentre.
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        Awesome! Yeah, I loved the tone of that one so that bodes well. I picked up a copy in audio, hopefully can get to it soon-ish.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Ooh I hope you enjoy it.
        Lynn 😀

  12. alburke47

    Great review of a great book.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I just stopped by your site – which is great btw – and read your review. I left a comment but I’m not sure if it turned up so I’ll check againin a couple of days.
      Lynn 😀

      • alburke47

        I have to approve it. Glad you like my site. I’m always tinkering a little.

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