Originally published: 23 April 2019
Author: C A Fletcher
Published by: Orbit Books
Genre: Dystopian fiction
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 25-28 April 2019
In the dedication at the front of this book, the author asks us to keep our reviews spoiler free – I’ve never seen that before and I hope that everyone respects his wishes!
Griz lives on a remote Scottish island, with his parents and older siblings Bar and Ferg. He had another sister, Jess who died in an accident and his mum has never recovered from the loss. There are barely any people left on earth – most people became infertile and the population has all but died out. This all happened a long time ago and Griz and his family have never known life to be any different. Griz also owns two dogs – Jess and Jip. There are not many dogs left in the world either, having suffered the same fate as humans. They live a simple life, scavenging what they can find from other islands nearby (which they call “a-viking”) and growing food.
One day a man called Brand arrives on a boat – he brings stories from the mainland of deserted towns and cities and offers to trade with the family parts for a windmill. But the man is a thief and when Griz wakes up the next morning, he finds his family have been drugged by the man and the man has gone, taking Jess with him. Seeing the boat on the horizon, Griz makes the decision to chase after the man, taking Jip with him.
What follows is a true adventure story. Griz has no idea how to navigate this world he finds himself in, but is resourceful and plucky. Starting in Blackpool, Griz follows Brand (and Jess) across the country with the sole purpose of getting his dog back.
As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I knew I had to read it. Billed as a “must-read” for fans of Station Eleven and The Girl with all the Gifts (both big favourites of mine), this certainly falls into the dystopian genre. Quick disclaimer: I’m not a dog person. I’ve never owned a dog and despite my son being desperate for one, I have never relented. But I do understand the love people have for their pets and this is played out especially well in this book. The love and loyalty between Griz and his dogs (particularly Jip who is with Griz on the journey) is heart-warming.
Dogs were with us from the very beginning. And of all the animals that walked the long centuries beside us, they always walked the closest.
And then they paid the price. Fuck us.
The story itself is written by Griz, addressing a girl in a photo he once found, who is long since dead. He tells her (and us) about the journey he goes on and paints a vivid picture of how everything looks now and the dangers he encounters. The text is quite dense and I must admit it look a little while for me to get involved in the story as I found it a little slow. There is very little dialogue in the book and it made me realise how much I like conversation in a novel! But as the story progressed, Griz won me over and I found the story tense and exciting. I also developed a soft spot for Griz as soon as I found out he is a lover of books and reading!
A great addition to the post-apocalyptic genre, full of adventure and excitement.
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the blog tour and to Orbit Books for sending me a beautiful hardback copy! Be sure to checkout the other stops below:
About the author:
After studying English Literature at university, Fletcher began his career in the film business and then progressed to the BBC where he worked in film editing.
He then went to California where he became a screenwriter, having been awarded a Warner Brothers Fellowship in Screenwriting at USC School of Cinema and TV. He wrote screenplays for TriStar, MGM, Paramount and Warner Bros. among others.
He also moved into other types of writing, including magazine features, a computer game and as a national Sunday newspaper columnist and a restaurant reviewer.
He met and married his wife, Domenica, a fellow Scot, in Los Angeles. They have two children and live in Edinburgh.
He is now probably best known for his children’s novel, Stoneheart.