Thursday, February 16, 2012


After the Snow

I have never, ever, ever written a review for a book that I did not finish. In fact, it goes against everything in me to write a review on a book I did not finish to the point that I have suffered through some pretty bad books to be able to deliver an accurate and complete this book. Who would have though S.D. Corckett's After the Snow would make those books look like Dr. Seuss?!

I read about 30 post-apocalyptic stories a year and I read almost 150 young adult titles last year alone with a lot of PA and YA cross-over. Therefore, I was very excited to read this book that is clearly well within the limits of my two favorite genres- a story about a boy surviving after a huge climate shift that starts a new Ice Age. I opened the book, started reading, and was immediately frustrated and annoyed. I put the book down and picked it back up the next day, thinking maybe it was late at night and I should read it when I was alert and had a cup of coffee to keep me going (this should have been an indicator that the book was off, not me, but I don't give up on books).

The language was through the perspective of the boy who had no real education, making his language broken and barely comprehensible. On page 6, I reached a sentence that is still making me shudder: "My mum got dead when I been a baby still scrieking in my ass rags." Yep. And that wasn't just an isolated instance, that is the whole book. Now, I had trouble with Blood Red Road, another PA YA book with a hard dialect to get used to, but this book makes that book look like an award winner. The language was just so bad, after 2 hours and 3 cups of very strong coffee later, I gave up. I am sad to admit defeat, but i couldn't do it anymore.

Why would an author write a novel in such broken and incomprehensible language that their target audience, young adults, couldn't possibly read it? This makes absolutely no sense to me, and quite honestly, the editor who allowed them to publish a book in this language should be admonished, fired, then banned from the field. I am fine with a book having accurate dialogue for the time and circumstances of the character, but the idea of keeping the whole book in this language because it is told in the first person is not just bizarre and poor decision making, it will also put your book right out of business. If an adult who reads between 150 and 200 books a year can't make it through your story, what hope is there for a young adult who has not yet fully come into their own in terms of language and an appreciation for reading. I teach dyslexics, and I can honestly say I would rather have them NOT read than to give them this horrible book.

So I am sad to say this review is of a book I couldn't finish despite hours of trying to get into it. I tried, I really did. If you think you can power through bad writing to find what might be a great story, by all means, give it the old college try. I admit defeat and have put this book and myself out of our misery. I sincerely hope the author will go back to the drawing board and fix the language of the novel. There is nothing worse than language that literally prevents people from reading your book.

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