Reviews for After the Snow

Booklist Reviews 2012 March #1
People barely remember the time before the new Ice Age. Now, punishing snow is a year-round occurrence, and 15-year-old Willo and his family scrape out a living in the wilderness, trapping animals for skins that they can then sell to what remains of the government. One day Willo's family vanishes, and so he starts toward the violent, miserable, beggar-filled city to find them. Along the way he runs across a freezing little girl and decides to save her--despite the advice of "the dog," an imaginary companion who offers cold, survivalist advice from the dog skull Willo keeps lashed to his hat. At its best, this bleak debut recalls Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008) and Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006), with the brave young narrator navigating the horrors of a wasted world in broken English ("she look like a worm do"). There is a staginess to the ending that feels incongruous with the naturalistic style of the rest of the book, but nevertheless this marks Crockett as a writer to watch. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Fifteen-year-old Willo and his family live in a future ice-age world. One day he comes home to find his family gone, stranding him in the frozen mountains of Wales. Willo's first-person voice is distinctive; the dystopian world, especially the hellish city, is carefully delineated. Allusions to Yeats, Genesis, Browning, and various fairy tales lend epic weight to Willo's journey.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
Fifteen-year-old Willo tires of the grown-ups' stories of "the old time, before the sea stop working, before the snow start to fall and fall and fall and don't stop." All he has ever known is this future ice-age world, and his family roughing it on the mountain. His trapping skills help with their survival, but one day he returns home to find his family gone, stranding him in the frozen mountains of Wales. He sets off toward the city in search of his family, meeting a thirteen-year-old girl named Mary on the way. Entering the city is like Dante's entering the gates of Hell. A sign daubed on a wall proclaims, "There is no law beyond / Do what thou wilt." But Willo doesn't abandon hope, and finds brief refuge with Piper, the rat man who recites Browning, and Jacob the furrier, who leads Willo toward news of his father. The strengths of the novel are Willo's distinctive first-person voice and the carefully delineated dystopian world, especially the hellish city with its slushy streets and foul air, gangs, dogs, soldiers, and fascist government in league with powerful business interests. Willo's oft-repeated slogans and parroting of his father's admonition to be a "beacon of hope" wear thin, but allusions to Yeats and Genesis and Browning and various fairy tales lend epic weight to Willo's journey in this absorbing first novel. dean schneider Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
Debut author Crockett's poetic first-person narrative depicts an adolescent's coming of age amid wartime havoc and an unforgiving, possibly post-apocalyptic winter. When Willo's family vanishes from their wintry cabin, he sets out on his own to find them, leaving his home in the hills for the nearby town, which is undergoing a Nazi-like occupation. The war is a nebulous monster; though Crockett alludes to World War II, she never fully explicates the novel's timeframe, which may frustrate some readers. Willo's inventive argot is part–urban vernacular and part–forester twang, and though it offers no clues as to setting or time, it conveys exceptional metaphors that evoke nature and the elements. People Willo has trusted betray him in the face of scarce food and the authorities' hunt for a faceless resistance, but he perseveres, seizing opportunities to earn his bread and doggedly pursuing information about his father. On his journey he meets a young girl who turns out to possess unexpected significance in the political landscape, figuring even in his own legacy, a thing he discovers in his difficult search. Willo endures cruel brutality, but Crockett renders in him an intense psychological transformation that is authentic to his character and his circumstances, culminating in discovery of his own voice and vision. A sentimental tale of hardships, resilience and first-time experiences that illustrates a universal truism: Hope springs eternal in the young. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 January #3

In this powerful first novel, global warming has killed the North Atlantic Current, sending the U.K. and much of the U.S. into a new ice age. Fifteen-year-old Willo--born in the barren, snow-covered mountains of northern Wales--has never known anything but the cold; half-feral, he barely listens when his father tells him stories of the times before the weather changed. Coming home from a day on the mountain, however, he finds his family has been taken away by government men. Then, heading back up the mountain, seeking refuge from the weather, cannibals, and feral dogs, Willo stumbles on two abandoned children. His first instinct is to "go quick away from those kids just standing all frozen and starving with their dark eyes begging me," but his basic humanity eventually intervenes. This brutal and at times terrifying postapocalyptic tale features a well-developed first-person narrator, strong secondary characters, and spare but compelling language. Despite its grim take on humanity's willingness to do evil, it also demonstrates that, even under the most straitened circumstances, people are capable of unexpected kindness and altruism. Ages 12-up. Agent: Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 March

Gr 8 Up--What if, instead of a warmer future, "every thing got proper cold"? What if "the seas stopped working," and those who didn't move to the crowded, smelly cities approved by the government became "stealers" and "stragglers" and lived off the grid? Russia and China are big influences in this new order, and the yuan is the preferred currency. Willo's family are stragglers, living in the frigid mountains of Wales. Willo has a talent for hunting and helps his father turn hides into finely crafted coats, boots, and gloves. Cat and dog make the finest furs, though Willo catches mostly rabbits. When he returns from a hunt to find the cabin deserted, he knows something bad has happened. He packs a sled with supplies and heads off to find his family. His first encounter is with Mary, almost starving, whose father is a pony man, also missing. Willo intends to take Mary only as far as the power lines, where she can be picked up by a snow truck, but events tumble both teens onto a transport into the city. The bones of this story are not new: civilization trying to reform after human-caused catastrophe. Some people try to make a better world, and others ask only what's in it for them. What elevates Snow is the voice Crockett uses to tell the tale. Willo's narration, with misspellings and inventive phrasings, is a voice we have not heard before. Graphic violence occurs in several places, but Crockett's cold, brutal world is not without a few warm rooms where travelers can rest and prepare for the next challenge.--Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

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VOYA Reviews 2012 February
Surviving in the wilderness is all fifteen-year-old Willo knows. Coming home from trapping one day, he finds that his family has vanished, leaving him alone to brave a world of ice and snow in the dead of winter. Gathering all the essentials he can haul, Willo treks into the mountains determined to uncover what happened to his dad, Magda, and the children. What he finds is a girl, left for dead, and circumstances that lead them into a world controlled by a harsh government. Battling to stay alive and on the run from government officers, Willo unearths the truth of his father's identity and realizes that escape from the world in front of him may not make him better off in the end--what is important is the landscape right beneath his feet. Crockett's debut novel is an interesting tale once readers get accustomed to Willo's stilted language and way of thinking. Action scenes are suspenseful and powerful, with vivid descriptions of the snowy landscapes. Willo's despair and confusion in this coming-of-age novel are believable, making readers want to know if Willo will live or die. Despite the lack of secondary character development, readers will anxiously turn pages to the very end, hoping that Willo triumphs above the obstacles that hinder him. Willo's innocence is endearing and draws compassion as he painstakingly develops into a man in the midst of an unfamiliar world. This alternate earth of the future elicits a thought-provoking concept that is a fresh look for readers who enjoy dystopian science fiction.--Laura Panter. 3Q 3P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.