Griz lives with his family on a small island off the coast of Scotland. It is the end of days… About a hundred and fifty years in the future, many human factors have caused the birthrate to drop dramatically until there are an estimated fewer than 10,000 people alive in the world. Families and small communities struggle for survival without any of the comforts we know. Griz’s family is cautious and at times paranoid about their little plot of safety on the edge of the world. They have allies a couple islands to the north, but generally keep to themselves.
Until one day when they see a sail on the horizon and soon the boat approaches their island of Mingulay. Brand is a trader who has come to show the family his wares. They share a meal and he woos them with tidbits from far and wide, especially an exotic spread named marmalade. But this delicacy is tainted with a sleeping concoction that enables Brand to take Griz’s dog. A prize in the world because the toxins have affected the birthrates of dogs as well. A young man’s anger is unleashed upon this thief and his vengeance will not be satisfied until he tracks down Brand and takes back his dog. Over sea and through a desolate post-apocalypse landscape, a journey to return the terrier back to its family.
I will stop there in order to respect Fletcher’s request for no spoilers, but I will make several general comments about my love for this book:
- The story is told by Griz from some point after the action has taken place. This reflective narration allows for drops or hints of future conflicts and character development. Fletcher’s use of this technique builds great tension and adds that eerie foreshadowing of things to come.
- Griz’s character is one of my favorites in a long time. He is constantly caught in a decision whether to take on trouble with stealth or violence. This new and scary world is not kind to people, and each conflict tests and forces him to grow.
- If the pacing does slow a bit at all, Griz’s reflections and the author’s writing shines. Fletcher is allowed to insert all kinds of speculation on the past lives of the people who once lived in the face of societal shutdown.
- There are a number of literary, musical, and other allusions that add great depth to the novel. I had fun looking many of them up and following a couple fun threads though YouTube and our friend Google. Ha!
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is one of the best books I will read this year. It’s chock-full of intriguing post-world speculation, contains one of the best characters in recent memory, and has a survival-adventure plot that kept me flipping through the pages.
5 out of 5 stars.
Releases on April 23rd.
Thank you to NetGalley, Orbit Books, and C. A. Fletcher for an advanced copy for review.