The Wolves of Winter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

Tyrell Johnson’s The Wolves of Winter starts out as a reasonably well-written, if undistinguished, post-apocalyptic tale – a sort of YA-ish version of Cormac Mcarthy’s The Road (the “ish” owing to the fact that the protagonist, Lynn, is a handful of years older than the usual YA heroine). It quickly turns into a reasonably well-written, undistinguished, YA-ish post-apocalyptic tale crossbred with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a development that doesn’t do it any favors. Lynn is a little bit Katniss (hunts with bow and arrow) and a little bit more Bella (attracted to dangerous men, makes bad decisions, needs to be rescued a lot). 
After a nuclear war AND a superflu wipe out most of the planet’s human population, Lynn and some of her surviving family and friends band together in the snowy wilderness of the Canadian Yukon. Their difficult if mostly peaceful existence is disrupted when a mysterious, reclusive stranger named Jax wanders through the vicinity, bringing a dangerous governmental agency known as Immunity on his tail. Lynn, of course, falls for super-strong super-fast Jax, whose most marketable skill is murdering people.
The Wolves of Winter is economical and fast-paced, and Johnson has the basic storytelling skills required to write a not embarrassingly bad novel. Johnson can’t really be blamed too much for the unoriginal setting; your options are limited when you plug “nuclear war and disease ravaged wasteland” into the worldbuilding machine – there’s basically a sliding scale between Station Eleven and Mad Max, which Johnson scoots closer to the former. He can, however, be blamed for all the other trimmings. The characters are rather bland to begin with, but the total lack of chemistry between the romantic leads is unforgivable. Their banter is clumpy and insipid, and Johnson contrives a number of obvious and threadbare excuses for slamming them together (e.g. Jax rescues Lynn from being buried in a blizzard, seemingly only so the old “we have to get naked and spoon to save you from freezing to death don’t worry it’s just science” card can be played). Worse still is the cookie cutter villainy of Immunity; every representative of the organization is a sinister, sneering, underhanded creep lacking any shred of human decency, all the better for Jax to slaughter them indiscriminately and with moral impunity. I kept hoping he would at least hunt down the head of their HR department for their questionable application review process (Are you indifferent to the suffering of others? Yes. Are your employer’s goals more important than basic human rights? Of course. You’re hired!).
A novel only for the most forgiving of readers.
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A dystopia after a war.  Character was well done and interesting.  I would give to both adults and high level young adult readers.
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(I have a book-related podcast, and I would love to interview Tyrell Johnson about his book! www.closemindedpodcast.com)

Johnson writes well, with solid character development and steady pacing as he unveils a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Set in the Yukon territory a decade or so after civilization has fallen to a deadly virus in the wake of a worldwide nuclear war, the story follows a family living peaceably in the secluded northern frontier. That is, until a stranger appears in their midst, pursued by a militarized CDC-like organization. Johnson pens a compelling story that ends satisfyingly, yet with hints of more to come in the broad narrative. I hope he continues writing.
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I absolutely love apocalyptic survival stories and Johnson's debut is an excellent addition to the genre. I can't say I found it wholly original, but what story is?
The main character, Lynn, was frequently frustrating, but not unlikable and if anything, I found her flaws to make her more realistic. I don't know any twenty somethings (myself included) who make great choices  and I don't think the apocalypse would change that any. 
For me, the best parts of this book was the dynamics at play between Lynn and her family, and the subtle ways Johnson displayed the frosty setting. 
I would recommend this book to lovers of post-apocalyptic fiction and survival stories who also enjoy a healthy dose of improbable romance.
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This book was really enjoyable
I loved the idea behind it, the characters were so well done. The world-building was done exceptionally well also. Can't wait to read more by this author
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Excellent first time apocalyptic thriller—in the near future a flu in conjunction with weather changes influenced by nuclear war wipes out most of the population. Some escape to Alaska and other cold areas—a few may be immune to the flu.  Some are searching for the answer to immunity which sets up the battle between Lynn and Jax who are immune and the Immunity group. Looks like this will be the first in a series and I look forward to the next. Well written, fast pace and with a love story at its heart. Read it.
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Wow!  Great book!  I can’t wait to read more from this author. I’ve read a lot of dystopian fiction, but this is a standout. There are so many things done right:  intriguing plot, skilled writing, superb pacing and well fleshed out characters. And I may have found a new favorite heroine in Gwendolyn, a courageous young woman determined to protect her family and play a part in solving a worldwide crisis. 
The story takes place in the wilderness of the Yukon Territories in the near future. Small groups of survivors are hiding there after cataclysmic events cause more populated areas to become dangerous. Gwendolynn’s family is among these. They are hiding an additional secret that puts Gwendolynn in great danger, but may also be the key to saving civilization. 
Highly recommended. 

Note:  I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Society has collapsed due to nuclear war and a worldwide killer virus which has left very few survivors. Sixteen year old Lynn McBride and her family move to the harsh Canadian Yukon in the early days of the war in order to survive. Aside from Lynn’s mother, father, brother, Uncle Jeryl and Sam a young man whose late father was friends with Jeryl, the only other person nearby is Conrad. A terrible, thieving man who only has his interests in mind and will never be the kind of person you’d want as your neighbor at the end of the world. While Lynn’s family is largely unaffected by the virus since living in the wilderness, Lynn’s father passes away (not a spoiler this happens before the book even begins) from the virus. Lynn too catches it, but miraculously survives. Her brother and mother luckily never fall ill. Lynn, now 23 years old is thinking about venturing off on her own when a mysterious man appears with his dog. Lynn’s mother and Uncle Jeryl are hesitant to let Jax into their home, but when they realize he is hurt and badly in need of their care they cautiously open their home to him. Jax has secrets which only begin to be revealed when a group of men show up at the cabin under the guise of a traveling general store. When one of them men points out the tattoo on Jax’s arm, Jax erupts into a fast moving warrior able to fight off and murder all the men by himself. This begins the action adventure portion of the book that I did enjoy. We find out more facts about what society has been up to in the years since Lynn’s family went off the grid, and we learn more about Jax. As the story progresses, we realize that this virus that has been ravaging the world may be man-made, and that Lynn, Jax and her family may have more to do with it then meets the eye. Old memories of her father’s mysterious work in the basement and her miraculous recovery from the virus come back into play and the story does get interesting. Of course, the predictable love story blooms between Jax and Lynn even though she literally tells him “I am not going to have sex with you.” That made me laugh at loud when I read it. It seemed like a cheesy line at the time, but it grew on me as their relationship developed.

I gave this book two stars because while I enjoyed parts of the story, on the whole I sped through it to get to the end. The premise sounded great and probably based on my review you may think, “That doesn’t sound bad!” Part of my reasoning is that the writing seemed more YA than adult fiction. Some of you may really enjoy it more because of that, but I am not a fan of YA Fiction except in rare circumstances. I haven’t seen this book listed in that category, so it threw me off while reading it as I was expecting a more adult feel. I’m not sure if the author did that intentionally, but maybe this should be marketed as YA if that’s the case. He may find that the audience is more receptive in that genre. The main character Lynn is in her early twenties but reads much younger. Her inner dialogue is sexually charged (not usually a problem for me) and it feels weird reading it because I didn’t see her as an adult. I would chalk her naiveté up to living in the Yokon since the age of 16, but you would think that kind of life would inspire a type of maturity in order to survive. Instead, she makes poor decisions left and right and puts herself into situations where her life is at risk. She seems very bored and tired of her isolation so that could also be a factor in her poor decision making. Maybe skip this one? Or read it and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for this book in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5 stars

"I exist as I am, that is enough."

Lynn McBride is surviving in the stark Canadian Yukon after society collapsed after a nuclear war and the onset of disease. She is not alone, her Mother, her brother, her uncle and others live in a small settlement relying on their hunting skills to survive.

One day she comes across a young man, Jax, and his dog named Wolf while out hunting. Jax appears different from others she has met. He is mysterious, and she is intrigued. She brings him back to her tiny settlement and their entire world changes forever. 

"Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive."

Lynne thought she was struggling to survive before, but now she is really in a struggle to survive. This newcomer is not the only change in her life, his arrival triggers a change of events that threaten their way of life. 

I really enjoyed this post apocalypse tale of survival. I also love how the landscape and climate feel very much like a character themselves. I could almost hear the crunch of the snow under their boots and feel the chill in the air. I found this to be a nice touch to setting the mood of the book. Winter is not coming - Winter is here in this book! Another thing I appreciated was how fast paced this book was. I found it to be a riveting, chilling, and suspenseful read. It's part coming of age tale (even though Lynne is in her early 20's), it's also about family secrets, learning who you really are, learning what you are made of, bravery, hope, fear, desperation, violence, redemption, and starting over. This book is atmospheric, thrilling, and a page turner. 

Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5 Stars.

OKAAAY.....SIGN ME UP for the next Tyrell Johnson novel.  THE WOLVES OF WINTER is a super-fine debut....available NOW!

............."Everyone has something to hide.".............

What you'll find here is a great post-apocalyptic adventure set in a snowy Yukon wilderness....with freezing temperatures....a feisty, smart-mouth protagonist....her expanded family....a "fat-face" creep neighbor, a mysterious man, his cool dog Wolf....and a fight for survival....literally.

When the McBride family flee Chicago for Alaska, Lynn's father knows what's coming.  As a biologist, he fears the worst....desperate violent people and infection....and he's right.

THE WOLVES OF WINTER is a fresh, but scary look at an apocalyptic future with a reality all too possible.

The story is very atmospheric, well written and totally engaging throughout.  For me (did not seem YA) and was unputdownable.  A possible series?  Hopefully!

Many thanks to NetGalley and SCRIBNER for the complimentary ebook in exchange for a review.
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A great novel with action and good pacing with a believable premise of what "might" happen.  It did skirt the YA theme of both "hunger Games and Divergent" but was fresh enough to hold my interest
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I couldn't put this book down.  I was drawn in immediately by the cold setting, so atmospheric.  Would recommend to others that love post-apocalyptic fiction.
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This is very by-the-numbers.  Characters are not compelling and the plot is very predictable.  I can't really recommend much about it.
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The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early January.

The lead narrator - a cold-bitten child of nuclear dystopic nature, Lynn - reminds me much of Eloi from Horizon Zero Dawn, but with a greater familial support system in her uncle Jeryl, brother, and mom amid a hungry, angry, tough-talking, flu-fearing, hunting, shooting wilderness.
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Dang, I loved this story and really hated to see it end. I'll confess that I wasn't expecting too much from it, as I usually like my post-apocalyptic fiction to be filled with zombies/aliens/supernatural beings. This was about as real as it gets. The setting in the Yukon was gorgeous! The best thing about this story were the people. Sometimes you just run across a character and they take on a life of their own. Gwendolyn will be added to that list of fictional characters who I'll remember on certain days and wonder what she been up to. Then I'll probably have to read this book again and spend a few days visiting. This is a fully self-contained novel, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a sequel. Please....
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Published by Scribner on January 2, 2018

The Wolves of Winter is best approached as a young adult novel. It doesn’t appear to be marketed that way, but it has all the YA characteristics: a young adult protagonist at odds with an older adult world; the protagonist’s discovery that she has greater resilience/strength/skills than she imagined; a broadening of that character’s life experiences as the novel progresses; her blossoming but chaste love for a good-hearted bad boy; her clashes with adult/parental authority; her reassurance of parental love; her confrontation of easily-resolved moral issues; and an undemanding plot that moves quickly and covers a relatively short time span. That description isn’t meant to disparage YA fiction (some of it is quite good), but readers should know what to expect when they pick up a book.

The Wolves of Winter posits a nuclear war, started (credibly enough) by the America First crowd. When the radioactive dust settles, America is no longer first, because nobody comes in first in a holocaust. America’s real downfall, however, was launching a biological attack on China (or at least that’s what the characters theorize), which backfired when travelers defied the Asian travel ban and carried the virus back to the United States.

The protagonist in this post-apocalyptic novel is Gwendolynn McBride, a 23-year-old who prefers Lynn. She isn’t big enough to avoid being bullied by the survivalist libertarians who seem to welcome post-apocalyptic living because the strong can bully the weak when no society exists to enforce civilized rules. But Lynn’s family is supportive; they deal with problems as they arise.

One potential problem is a wanderer named Jax. He joins the family while recovering from an injury. Lynn is fascinated by him (to her family’s consternation), but Jax’s history might make him a man to be avoided. Jax is being pursued by Immunity and his mere presence brings trouble to Lynn’s family.

Immunity is the shortened version of a longer organizational name given to a mysterious group that purports to be combatting the virus by searching for a way to create (you guessed it) immunity. Lynn’s mother seems to know something about Immunity but she won’t talk about it. Whether Immunity is a force for good or evil is one of the questions that the reader must ponder for much of the novel. Of course, all the family secrets are revealed near the novel’s end.

Another mystery for much of the novel is whether Jax is a good guy or a bad guy. He seems to have enhanced abilities (speed and strength among them) that make him a dangerous fellow, but can he be trusted? Well, this is YA fiction so you can probably guess the answer.

Lynn is the kind of independent, defiant young woman who has become a standard fixture of YA post-apocalyptic fiction. Naturally, she is attracted to Jax, because romance between a young, tough survivor like Lynn and a mysterious stranger like Jax is part of the formula for this kind of book. In fact, much of the book is formulaic. The story holds few surprises and the various threats Lynn faces are easily overcome. Since the story creates no fear that Lynn is ever in serious danger, it also creates little suspense. The ending is improbably happy, but that’s part of the formula. The Wolves of Winter is well-crafted, and if you like the formula, you’ll probably like the book. If you’re tired of the formula or would like to see it wielded with a new twist, you should probably give the novel a pass.

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
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Winner, winner. Chicken dinner. 

We have another five-star super-star.

I am so very impressed by this debut novel and I am not above begging for a sequel... and sooner, rather than later (You listening to me, Tyrell Johnson?). I am attached to the characters, I am invested in the story line, I am ready for more. 

“Snow can save you and sustain you, crush you and kill you. Snow is a fickle bastard.”


The Wolves of Winter follows a young woman named Gwyndolynn McBride, who, as much as I love her full name, insists on going by Lynn. She is 23 years old and lives in the Yukon Territory of Canada with her mother, brother, uncle, and family friend. Following a war on terror and a massive flu epidemic, this post apocalyptic setting forces Lynn's family to live in seclusion, surviving off of the land and bearing every precaution possible of those outside of their tiny community.

When Lynn meets Jax, a fellow survivor, everything for her and her family begins to change. The group's survival skills are put to the test and their trust in one another is tested. Safety is threatened, secrets are told, promises are made, and lives are taken. And it all boils down to one common thread--survival. 

wow.

There are so many things that I loved about this novel. It brushes the surface of so many different themes and topics. On one hand, you have a well-crafted wilderness survival fiction. Mixed in, we have a little post-apocalyptic, science fiction, and a little morsel of romance (just the perfect amount!). Johnson explores the bonds between a father and daughter, the strength of a mother, the resilience of humans, medical ethics, unexpected romance, and even the loyalty and bond between man and dog.  This book has it all folks. 

I saw many reviewers comparing this novel to The Hunger Games. I didn't really see that. Yes, it's a post-apocalyptic setting--but it's completely different. Yes, the main character is a young woman who is trying help her family survive and uses a compound bow. But Lynn is her own unique character and The Wolves of Winter is it's own, set-apart story. Lynn is an incredibly strong female character. She is headstrong and brave and has absolutely no filter. I love the way that Johnson wove in her memories of the past and her memories of her beloved father--the things that were integrated into who she is as a person and the woman she has become.

"'You're gonna do fine, Lynn.' He rested his hand on my arm. 
He wasn't supposed to. 'You're a survivor.' 
Turns out, he was right."


There is a lot of foul language in this novel.. that's one thing I have seen people a little irritated about on review boards. However, I found that it really added to the main character's personality. I mean let's be real... they experienced a war on their country, survived a massive flu epidemic, lost people that they loved, had to flee the United States to live amongst the snow and freezing temperatures, are living off the land, and have no hope of life ever going back to the 'normal' they once knew. I think I would be throwing around some cuss words too. Lynn is a little raw and unfiltered, and that's just who she is as a character--and I loved that!

I strongly recommend this novel! The first half beautifully sets up the backstory, establishes character presences, and introduces the setting. After that 50% mark, this novel morphs into the story you were not expecting, in the most fantastic way possible! Get your hands on a copy of this soon (and I recommend the hard copy because it is absolutely stunning. Just say no to a digital copy on this title). 



**Trigger Warning: [This book does contain both a sexual assault and a rape scene. The sexual assault takes place in the first chapter of the book and would be easy to jump over if you choose to read and avoid at the same time!

**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the provision of a digital galley of this title. Thank you to Tyrell Johnson and his agent for my beautiful hardback copy of this novel (ya'll, this cover is amazingly beautiful.. one of the most visually appealing I have seen). Both copies were provided in exchange for a honest review. All thoughts and opinions presented in this review are unbiased.


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This post-apocalyptic novel follows Lynn Bride and her family in search of a home in the Canadian Yukon. While well written, it seemed a little light on descriptive detail, although the plot is developed and engaging.
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Tyrell Johnson’s The Wolves of Winter starts out as a reasonably well-written, if undistinguished, post-apocalyptic tale – a sort of YA-ish version of Cormac Mcarthy’s The Road (the “ish” owing to the fact that the protagonist is a handful of years older than the usual YA heroine). It quickly turns into a reasonably well-written, undistinguished, YA-ish post-apocalyptic tale crossbred with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a development that doesn’t do it any favors. Lynn is a little bit Katniss (hunts with bow and arrow) and a little bit more Bella (attracted to dangerous men, makes bad decisions, needs to be rescued a lot). 
After a nuclear war AND a superflu wipe out most of the planet’s human population, Lynn and some of her surviving family and friends band together in the snowy wilderness of the Canadian Yukon. Their harsh if mostly peaceful existence (except for a slimy trapper living nearby) is disrupted when a mysterious, reclusive stranger named Jax wanders through the vicinity, bringing a dangerous governmental agency known as Immunity on his tail. Lynn, of course, falls for super-strong super-fast Jax, whose most marketable skill is murdering people.
The Wolves of Winter is economical and fast-paced, and Johnson has the basic storytelling skills required to write a not embarrassingly bad novel. Johnson can’t really be blamed too much for the unoriginal setting; your options are limited when you plug “nuclear war and disease ravaged wasteland” into the worldbuilding machine – there’s basically a sliding scale between Station Eleven and Mad Max, which Johnson scoots closer to the former. He can, however, be blamed for all the other trimmings. The characters are rather bland to begin with, but the total lack of chemistry between the romantic leads is unforgivable. Their banter is clumpy and insipid, and Johnson contrives a number of obvious and threadbare excuses for slamming them together (e.g. Jax rescues Lynn from being buried in a blizzard, seemingly only so the old “we have to get naked and spoon to save you from freezing to death don’t worry it’s just science” card can be played). Worse still is the cookie cutter villainy of Immunity; every representative of the organization is a sinister, sneering, underhanded creep lacking any shred of human decency, all the better for Jax to slaughter them indiscriminately and with moral impunity. I kept hoping he would at least hunt down the head of their HR department for their questionable application review process (Are you indifferent to the suffering of others? Yes. Are your employer’s goals more important than basic human rights? Of course. You’re hired!).
A novel for only the most forgiving of readers.
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