A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2019

Member Reviews

I can’t give this book a full review because I couldn’t read very much of it. The beginning couldn’t catch my attention. I’m going to give it a while longer, read some other books and, then, come back and try again. I hope to read the entire book at some point.
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A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher is a very highly recommended story of a quest set in a dystopian world. Great novel!

Griz and family live on an island off the west coast of Scotland. They are part of only a few thousand people left in the world. The world has suffered a soft apocalypse that is called the Gelding, a global epidemic of infertility that left the vast majority of the world's population unable to have children. Griz's family sees no one else, so it is just them and their beloved dogs. Griz's dog are are Jip and Jess. When a red haired stranger shows up, saying he is a trader, he seems friendly, but when he leaves, he steals food and Griz's dog, Jess. Griz jumps into a boat along with Jip and they give chase, because you can't steal a person's dog and if you aren't loyal to those you love, what's the point?

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is an excellent, compelling, un-put-down-able story and I know this will be a contender for one of the best books of the year. It is written through Griz's voice via journal entries written after the fact. There is foreshadowing expertly interwoven in the tale of survival and courage in a strange world full of ruins. Griz is devoted to Jip and Jess and will do anything to rescue Jess from the stranger. The suspense and tension is palatable as danger abounds everywhere.

No spoilers, as I want to respect Fletcher's wishes to allow readers to experience the journey as it unfolds, so I'm not going to say too much more. The writing, though, is exceptional, and the tension and suspense is kept high. This is a classic story of an epic quest. Griz is a great character, well-developed and believable in this very different world. There are some plot twists that you will not see coming and they will shock and astound you.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Orbit.

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The world has ended, not with a bang, but more of a whimper. There were no meteors, no alien invasions, no zombie apocalypse. Instead, people just stopped reproducing. No more babies = no more humans. Of course, if that were 100% true, this would be a very short book. A minute percentage continued to conceive, and lived on in the fringes of the world, where they became known as Outliers.
Griz is one such Outlier.  A teenager who lives on a remote island with his family, about 100 or so years after the last of the infertile humans (the Baby Busters) died. Life is hard as they struggle to survive with just each other for company. Griz’s younger sister died at an early age, and his mother suffered severe brain trauma  There is another family on a nearby island, but we hear little of them and they don’t factor into the tale. Anyway, one day a trader arrives at their island, and charms the family, although Griz has his suspicions. When our hero discovers his family have been drugged and his dog Jess stolen, Griz leaves his drugged family and chases after the thief, setting him on an adventure that will blow his young mind
This book is all about Griz. Our hero is not like those irksome teens we see on TV or prowling out streets. He is smart, well-read, resourceful and brave, although he’s also impulsive and tends to let his fears distract him. But you will root for him all the way through, even when he makes some bonehead mistakes (he is a teenager). Griz tells the story, writing of his journey to a long-dead kid in a photograph he found in a house. His perception of the world, enhanced somewhat by his love of books, is amazing, and his little asides about how he doesn’t understand the likes of crowds and other things we take for granted are impressive. The writing style is that of an erudite teenager with no real schooling or opportunity to hone his schools, but it’s entertaining throughout, and I have a thing for unique writing styles.
Also along  for the ride is Griz’s other dog, Jip, who is a character in his own right. The little terrier is brave and fearless, and provides a staunch companion. Jip often provides moments of wisdom for when Griz is struggling to make the right choice, or about to make a bad one. 
On the road Griz meets a French woman, who he calls John Dark (get it?), and it can be quite comical watching the two of them try to communicate through mime and an English-French dictionary, and he often makes reference to the fact that he can’t actually talk to the first person he met in the big empty world. Her motivations are always viewed with doubt, but she is a compelling character.
The final major character is Brand, the trader who sparks the events of the book. Brand has a silver tongue, a glimmer man of sorts, and often endeavours to prey on Griz and his inexperience of people. But he also doesn’t seem to be a killer, sparing Griz on occasion, despite threatening him often. Their paths don’t cross that often, but they are memorable confrontations. 
There is one more character, and even though it never utters a line, it dominates the book, and that is the big empty world. Griz’s journey takes him across the north of England, and the decay of once great towns and cities is apparent. Much of what Griz experiences he knows only from books, and he has to recognise what he sees with his mind’s eye. Nature had reclaimed the world, and many species of animal have found their way back into the British countryside, making adding peril to our hero’s journey.
To sum up, this was a compelling read and I found I didn’t want to put the book down, from the introduction to the jaw-dropping twists down the road. If you read my reviews, you’ll know I considered The Gutter Prayer to be potentially my favourite book of 2019. It’s just been knocked off the top spot.

6 stars out of 5
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A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a dystopian tale of self-discovery, following a boy who doesn’t understand how things work in a post-apocalyptic landscape, who leaves the safety of his family island to bring his dog home. We see him experiencing the world for the first time, leaving the readers to balance a sense of wonderment and a sadness for what once was and can no longer be.

The real strength of the book lies in the elaborate creation of its setting. As the boy travels from home, the setting shifts along with our perceptions of his predicament. In the beginning, we see the safety of home, the pieced together lodgings and every day sights taken for granted. The world seems a little fresher at times with its lush vegetation strewn about local islands, slowly overtaking the few remaining homes. As the boy ventures further, the world becomes more wild and unexpected, revealing new hazards and wonders alike. 

You really get to know the main character and, through his eyes, the many intricacies of this changed world. Even when it seems terrifying to our sheltered selves, to him it’s an exciting adventure as he gets to experience things we’d never bat an eyelash at. The book really makes you think about appreciating what we have while we have it. 

Fletcher does a great job at balancing the tragedy of a dystopian world with the need to discover it. The remnants of a normal day are everywhere, left behind for time to overtake. Mixed in with the boy’s experiences is a sense of dread at the world becoming such a dead place. The realities of the setting are amplified by the boy’s ongoing conversation of a photograph from our time. He imagines what it would be like to walk the pristine streets, to ride a rollercoaster or fly in a plane. It’s a balance between excitement for the character and tragedy at what we could lose. 

Overall, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a great dystopian novel, following a protagonist I was eager to know. His mission is simple at the start and gradually grows to change his life entirely. There’s suspense and excitement, joy and sorrow, and everything necessary for a great read.
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I never thought I'd be using "cozy" and "huggable" to describe a post-apocalyptic book...and yet here we are. I went into A Boy and His Dog thinking it'd be a story about the celebration of dogs against an end-of-the-world backdrop.

I was wrong.

It's a story about the celebration of life.

This book tackles the end of the world from an angle that I haven't seen before in the genre, and I think what it achieves for post-apocalyptic fiction is similar to what Life is Beautiful achieves for Holocaust ones--taking what is traditionally a grim subject matter and injecting it with an astonishing amount of hope and goodness. And you can hurl the exact same criticisms for A Boy and His Dog that people do for Life is Beautiful: that it's not dark enough, that it doesn't portray all the horrors of the situation, that it's too positive and hopeful.

But you know what? I don't think there's such a thing as too positive and hopeful. Not with stories like these.

Griz's narration is everything. It's companionable and warm, like you've been friends for your whole lives and this is just a story that he's telling you over a breakfast table. And it's laced with empathy and introspection that I think most book lovers can recognize and fall in love with. And he does this thing where he gets a certain feeling from looking at something or experiencing something, but he can't quite explain it with plain adjectives, so he tries to describe around it using imagery and comparisons to other things, and I just had to pause and stare at my tablet because it reminded me so much of myself and I rarely come across characters who think like this.

But the most brilliant part of the story is how Griz rebuilds this ruined world into something new--something quiet yet wondrous--just through his narration. He comes across empty bridges and crumbling buildings and old dusty records, but he doesn't see them as the loss of a civilization. He doesn't think, "Look what's become of humanity." He thinks, "Look what humanity has achieved." It's one of the most beautiful examples you can get of a character creating the world.

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), there aren't a ton of speculative book characters that I actually want to pull into this world and be best friends with. But with Griz? Sleepovers, baking sessions, camping trips, movie nights, book discussions--I want to do them all because he is my kind of people.

That being said, I did want more scenes of Griz bonding with his dogs; I kind of thought this would be a dog story first, post-apocalypse second, but the dogs felt more like catalysts for plot development than actual characters. And the ending wasn't as meaty as I'd hoped it would be. I wouldn't say "disappointing" but I was expecting something with a bit more impact. I think these complaints are fairly small in the grand of scheme of things, though.

A Boy and His Dog is the feeling of snuggling under your blanket fort, listening to the rain patter outside. A book that shines a light on the small everyday things we take for granted and says, "How magical. How beautiful. How extraordinary." And if the world ends in a fiery inferno tomorrow, I'll rest happily knowing that Griz will be narrating the life that comes after.
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Many Thanks to NetGalley, Orbit Books and C.A. Fletcher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy.

There is a note from C.A. Fletcher that says, and I’m paraphrasing, that is would be a kindness to other readers that the discoveries you make while you follow Griz’s journey remain a secret between us, meaning the reader and Fletcher. Who am I to go against an author’s wishes, and after reading, I understand why he is making this request. I almost think this is a disservice to categorize it as science fiction/fantasy genre, because there are readers, yes I know hard to believe, that will discount a book simply because they don’t “enjoy” that genre. I am telling you, this book is a must read, for everyone, no matter what genre you think you read. It is about love, family, loyalty, doing the right thing even when it is hard and all sorts of other things that make it so much more than a stereotypical science fiction/fantasy novel. 

If you haven’t gathered, I loved everything about this book. I really found it compelling, suspenseful, touching, endearing and everything else you might want in a novel. It has adventure and heart. I think kids of all ages will enjoy this but there are scary parts, so sensitive kids and the young should wait to read this one. There are so many ways I could use this in a classroom setting, I would pick this as a classroom novel and do a whole unit on this. It is so rich. There are so many themes to explore, and it brings up so many questions, I would love to do this with a classroom of kids and hear their ideas. Griz is a noble character with great qualities and equally great flaws. The pacing of the book is tense and exciting. The story is one that will stay with me and I will be sorry to say goodbye to the characters. 

Do yourself a favour - child, young adult, or adult and pick this one up.
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This a very gripping title. It is hard to put down and is very satisfying. The underlying theme of truth and the perception of truth are woven through the narrative making it hard to guess what will happen next. 
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Griz's world isn't like our own. There are fewer people now, thanks to the Gelding, a sharp and sudden decline in the ability to have children. Griz lives on an island with family and dogs and they rarely venture beyond their own shores. But when a stranger arrives offering trade, Griz's guard is dropped. Which is why the visitor is able to steal one of Griz's dogs. 

Griz will do anything to get Jess back, including traveling beyond the furthest reaches and into a world that's completely foreign. 

Oh, how I loved this book! I'll admit, a story about a search for a missing dog was maybe not completely in my wheelhouse. But it is a post apocalyptic setting, which is. And after receiving both a physical copy and an audio copy for review, I figured the world was trying to tell me something. 

And boy was it! This is hands down one of my favorite books this year!

So the Gelding is, as I mentioned, a sharp (dramatic, drastic, devastating) decline in babies being born. Obviously this isn't an issue for Griz's family as there are a total of four children, one lost in a tragic accident. And the family keeps to themselves. Beyond a trip to the mainland years ago, the family doesn't go far. They subsist off of the resources their island provides and that's about it. 

Then Brand arrives. With red sails, which immediately sets everyone at ease. As Griz notes, no one sneaking around would sail with red sails! And yet, Brand makes off with one of Griz's dogs in the middle of the night. 

What comes next is a journey of survival and an attempt to save Jess, one of Griz's dogs. Because, as Griz notes, "If we're not loyal to the things we love, what's the point?"

Griz is a fabulous narrator and the time that's passed between Griz's present and our own is quite significant. Griz is a reader so there's no bizarre imaginings of what any remains of our world were used for or mean, but Griz's exploration of that world is fascinating nonetheless. In part because of the lack of people. For much of the book, beyond Brand, the only people Griz comes into contact with are already dead. Which would make this a bit of a lonely book were it not for Jip, Griz's other dog, who is also part and party to the quest to save Jess. 

Fletcher's debut is a story about friendship, loyalty, and adventure and it's enormously wonderful. If you're a fan of dog books, post apocalyptic books, adventure books, or any books at all, you should read this one!

And, if you are a fan of audio books, you should absolutely read this one in that format. It's narrated by the author himself who has such a fabulously theatrical voice!
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The world has ended. However, this post-apocalyptic story does not occur as the world is ending, or immediately after the world ends. Instead, the story follows the descendants of those survivors; these people are living in what remains of the world 100 years later. And yes, the novel is about a boy who goes on a journey to recover his stolen dog. Before you judge the plot of this book, recall the plot of the movie, "John Wick."
	Griz is the protagonist and we follow the events of his adventure after they happen. Griz lives with his family—parents and brother and sisters—on an island. There are other people who live in this big world, including their neighbors with whom both families make supply runs together. As mentioned in the summary, a thief—named Brand—“stops by the island” and takes one of the family’s dogs. Griz, who believes in family and doing the right thing, takes off after Brand in order to get the dog back. Throughout Griz’s journey, he explores what remains of our world: buildings, wildlife, landscape, etc. Griz learns more about the world because he must survive alone with his knowledge and his instincts to guide him. The few people Griz meets throughout his journey presents both the struggle and the complications surrounding each individual, including Griz. 
       Anyone who is a fan of post-apocalyptic stories will enjoy Fletcher’s novel. As I mentioned before, there are no zombies or first wave attacks in this story; and, this does not happen immediately after the events at the end of the world. And, that’s the appeal of "A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World," the aftermath of the apocalypse! Given the approximate age of Griz (16?), adolescent readers will find this novel appealing as well. I can see this novel becoming an assigned book in schools.
	"A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World" is an entertaining dystopian bildungsroman novel that puts a lot of emphasis on the atmosphere of the Earth over the characters. Readers learn from Griz’s experiences that both knowledge of survival and knowledge of people go hand-in-hand. My only issue with this novel is that while Griz learned and accomplished much on his journey, he doesn’t seem changed by it that much. It could be because Griz is telling the story in his journal. The “story doesn’t end with the journey” notion that left me wondering whether or not Griz and his family has more to tell us about their world. Other than that this novel was fun to read.
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I read the preview of this book and was hooked. It left me craving for more and was happy when I was approved for this book.
I'm usually no fan of dystopian novels but this was very good. 
I loved how the book was told and, even if the pace is quite slow for most of the time, I was hooked and I had to read as fast as I could till the end.
It's a moving, entertaining and fascinating book. I loved the world building and how the characters were written.
It was the discovery of a new author (new to me) and I look forward to reading other books by this writer.
Many thanks to Orbit Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Thank you so much to Orbit books and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.  

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a post apocalyptic, dystopian novel where a great gelding seems to have reduced the population to a handful of hardy stragglers. 

 Griz, his family, and their dogs live on an island.  They are a resourceful bunch, who hunt and fish and go "a-viking" to scavenge from the mainland.  When a traveller shows up to trade some goods, everything goes to hell for Griz when he wakes up, drugged, to find his dog gone.

The story is told as Griz pursues the traveller and his dog across the continent by sea and land.  I love the regard that C.A. Fletcher obviously has for dogs, I found myself nodding and smiling as the loyalty and bonds were described.  Also the love of books - one unique concept to me was Griz candidly remarking that all the old books had the end of the world wrong.

The writing was a little hard to follow, Griz wrote it like a diary but I guess he didn't pick up punctuation from his books.  I am not sure how many others will love the book due to that style, it could be hard to follow at times.  The plot felt a little slow sometimes but never boring, and had a few surprising twists.

I did enjoy the premise, the plot twists, the friends he made along the way, all the dangers....and the other plot twist :)

Would recommend for fans of dystppian type novels. 3.5 actual rating
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I've always loved apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic tales. In this story, Griz is a teen surviving well on an island a few generations after the end of the world as we know it.  The world didn't end with a bang, but slowly, because of a lack of new babies.  Only a VERY small percentage of people can have children so the world is empty now and everything is in ruins.  The same thing happened to the dogs so those are also very few and far between.  But Griz's family are the lucky ones and can have kids and have dogs who can have pups.  

Enter Brand, a traveling trader who delights the family with his story telling and then makes off in the night with Griz's beloved dog, Jess.

Griz sets out after Brand to get Jess back and ends up on a journey of a lifetime.

The story is told by Griz as written in a letter format. It's told slowly. Very slowly.  But the end makes up the wait to see what will happen next.  Overall, I did enjoy this book.

*Thank you to NetGalley and to Orbit Books for the advance copy!*
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Not quite what i was expecting, but quite an enjoyable book and well worth a read.  I seldom write what a story is about as i prefer one to read the book for themselves.  

I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.  This is my honest review.
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Never mess with a boys dog ! That is something everyone should know, right ? This boy, Griz, loves his dog and will do anything to get it back.  That's not the whole story just the stick that poked and poked till things got way out of hand.
The story is about a boy who lives on an island with his mother, father and two sisters. In this post apocalyptic  world were very few survived including animals.,  The old world is only known through books now, technology, communities, and safety are things long gone. Humans must now forage, hunt and go a Viking to find useful items to help make living easier.
When a stranger arrives on their island after so many years of being alone they meet him with fear, distrust and excitement. he comes bearing news and gifts and leaves with a dog. This dog belongs to the boy, Griz.
This is where the adventure begins, Griz follow determined to reclaim his dog. His aventures take him to a world he has never seen, far from home, far from the protection of his island and it's isolation. 
What a journey ! It was a slow start but slowly building, a bit too slow. I struggled to get through the first 3/4 of the book, the last 1/4 was a rollercoaster ride. Oh and there is a wowzer of a twist. It was griz's tiring same old line, and extreme focus and drive it took away from the other happenings. There was another thing that just bugged me. The lack of feelings, signs of love, emotions for his dogs. I was projecting sure but it read so dramatically yet the character was so cold and calculating. Overall  I liked it, and think it would make a great movie.
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I started by reading just the first chapter of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World to see if it was something I would enjoy. I then spent every waking moment where I wasn’t driving, working, or taking a shower, reading it until it was over.

The world is ending with a whimper. Seventy years previously, mankind stopped being fertile and multiplying. Griz is one of the few teenagers left. Living with his family on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, Griz’ friends are his two dogs, who are siblings Jip and Jess. Jess is a rare female dog in a world where dogs were eaten for food.

Griz’s family includes his father, his brain-damaged mother, his older sister and brother. When a stranger, world-traveler Brand, lands on their island, he is welcomed suspiciously for the possibility of trading food for a much needed windmill motor. However, when Brand leaves like a thief in the night, he takes Griz’s beloved dog, Jess, with him. Griz decides that that act is his line in the sand that no one should cross. He takes the family’s boat to give chase to Brand and bring Jess home.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is more Homer and less Walking Dead. There are no zombies in sight (thank goodness). It is a first-person coming of age quest novel. While I mentioned Homer, it can also be compared to several of the superhero movies so popular right now. There are clear heroes and villains. Griz is focused on his goal and is willing to put up with any challenge to achieve it. The ending is excellent too. While this has a rather slow pace, it is never boring. However, it has more of a literary fiction vibe and so may not be a good fit for thriller fans. In addition, the foreshadowing was annoyingly obvious. But it is definitely worth the time invested. 4 stars!

Thanks to Orbit Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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The publisher has asked that no spoilers be given prior to publication and I will do my best to respect that request.

The book is written by a boy named Griz who lived with his family on Mingulay island off the coast of what used to be Scotland. The world is post-apocalyptic as a result of the Gelding. Simplified, fewer females were born, and over time, the world's population declined as a result.

Griz writes the book in journal-style addressing it to a boy he saw in a photo once. Someone now long dead. While his age is not stated, it seems he is in his mid-to-late teens.

A stranger comes to their island, and after drugging the family through food which Griz didn't eat, makes his pre-dawn escape taking with him, among other things, one of Griz's dogs. Enraged, and telling no one of his plans, Griz gives chase hoping to get his dog back. Oh the impetuousness of youth!! Thus starts an adventure the likes of which Griz never expected.

The book immediately drew me in with the boy's unique voice. There were times when I was fully engaged and other times when things just seemed tedious.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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This book is all together introspective, post-apocalyptic and full of cute puppers. I mean that’s the trifecta, right?

Griz, is a boy who has grown up after the end of the world as we know it. His parents can recall the old days, back when the world was crowded. When dogs were plenty. When everything was electric. Now it’s mostly quiet. Griz has grown up on an island off the coast of Scotland, just him, his family and his two dogs. The island is hard to find and secluded (translation: safe), until a traveler shows up unexpectedly. He repays the family’s hospitality by drugging them and stealing their goods, including one of Griz’s beloved dogs.

Griz, for all his quiet thoughtfulness, is also bright, bold, courageous and loyal. He chases after his pet, knowing that the possibility of return to his home is slim. What follows is an adventure through a world that is familiar to us but nearly devoid of people, disused and falling apart. It gives the landscape an almost otherworldly quality, interesting to see how quickly things fall apart when we aren’t there to use them.

This is an excellent book. The main character is truly a delight and the puppers are, as will surprise no one, quite wonderful. If you liked Station Eleven, or books of that sort you will enjoy this one. I fully recommend it.

By the way, I’m really starting to love Orbit Books. I have not been disappointed once with the books I’ve gotten from them on Netgalley. They are one to watch!

Song for this book: The Call by Regina Spektor
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4.5 Stars

Posted to all links (except Amazon of course) 4/16

In a world where people are few and clinging to memories, those that are around you, and your pets; you can keep hold of what should matter most. Where in today's world we have lost site of all these things. We know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Secondly, we know my feelings about The Girl with all the Gifts. That is a high bar to set. A comparison not to take lightly. Well done, Mr. Fletcher. Well done.

I should warn you now that this review will be short. Like most dystopian books the less you know going in the better the experience will be. This is true to even more of an extreme with A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher. However, I will give you as much as I can to help you grasp the story. Told mostly (but not entirely) in a journal format and completely from Griz's point of view, Griz and his family live on an island alone with his dog Jip and Jess.

Griz's family have relocated to an island just off Scotland. The world, though loosely explained, has come to a point where they neither care nor are trying to figure out what caused the apocalypse. They never venture to the mainland and have a system that provides for everything they need on the island.

What they do know is that most of the population are no longer able to have children and that they are few children still surviving. This makes Griz and his family very fortunate due to the fact that his parents don't only have Griz, but other children as well. One sister passed away before Griz's journals begin, so we don't know why she died.

Soon a man shows up on the island shores calling himself a trader. All the redflags, bells and cries of DANGER! DANGER WILL ROGERS went off in my head. But this family that went to the extremes of going to their own island, not returning to Scotland offer him kindness. Were they weary, yes. But still they bring him on the island and show him hospitality.

And while I was irked by this obvious flaw in the family and, to me, in the story the cascading domino of events more than made up for that error in judgement. The stranger takes many of the family's resources, and of course one of Griz's dog. And just as I would, should stranger take one of my boys, I went full bent, end of the world or not to find this man and get his damn dog back. This is where I must end.

For Griz keeps up his journal as his searches for his dog in solitude and the effect of this solitude is what leads to so many of the twists and turns, and then the twisted ending I surely never saw coming.

C.A. Fletcher writing throughout the book is beautifully executed, as it has to be with Griz  so often on his own, writing in his journal to who? No one really, not at the time, but of course to us, the reader. It isn't easy to create an end of the world reality that drops you in the middle of the apocalypse. People want the excitement of how it started, why it started. You don't get that here. You get an apathetic world that has given up on the how and why. Yet Fletcher makes it work. Sometimes you just can't go back and whether true or not the world seems to have accepted this fate.
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This arc was sent to me from Orbit, through Netgalley. I was pleasantly surprised by this story. I genuinely liked the story and the characters. We are introduced to a family, that has so far managed to survive the end of the world. A stranger arrives in a boat and tells stories, eats their food, and while the famiily sleeps, he steals their dogs. One escapes, and Griz, one of the families children, awakes in time to see his other dog sailing away with the stranger. 
With that, over adventure with Griz begins, as he and his other dog sail off to resue the stolen dog. Griz discovers many new things, some good and some bad. And tackles a whole other world, that he kneq nothing about. Meets up with others, and all of this he did because of his most loyal of friends, and the love of his dogs. Wonderful story!P
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A Boy and His Dog at the end of the World by C.A. Fletcher bears no small resemblance to Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, which it turns out is not a bad thing.  Both are quiet, elegiac stories set in a post-apocalyptic world and focused on a main character who sets out with his faithful dog on a journey that becomes less about finding what is sought and more about learning about oneself. Both had me unsure at the start if I’d finish, and both won me over, though Fletcher somewhat less fully than Heller.  If you’re looking for a typical post-apocalyptic story with chase scenes, lots of violence, and running battles against regressed, barbaric people, this is not the novel for you.  If you’re a patient reader who doesn’t mind a slow, quiet stroll through a land being reclaimed by nature, lots of ruminating,  and a few human interactions along the way, then this might be just the sort of book you’re looking for.

The novel is narrated by young Griz, who lives with his small family on an island off the coast of Scotland some decades after “The Gelding,” a time when all but .0001 percent of the human population died off due to a plague that turned nearly everyone sterile. Life is difficult (a sister, Joy, died years ago tumbling off a cliff,  and their mother in her grief fell and is permanently brain-damaged) but bearable and they’re making do, until a trader arrives one day and steals one of Griz’s dogs (dogs, like people, have become incredibly rare). Without much forethought, Griz leaps into a boat and gives chase, thus precipitating a lengthy journey across sea and land into a world nearly (but not completely) void of humans, but not their remains.

That near-total emptiness is one reason for the quiet nature of the novel, as it means that just based on pure math, Griz isn’t going to encounter many people, a mere handful by the end and widely scattered across the book’s pages. Instead, we get lots of time inside Griz’s head, either through internal monologue, occasional “conversation” with the dog Jip (the other of the pair that included Jess, the stolen one), and a journal Griz keeps that is addressed to a person in a photograph discovered when his family was off “a-Viking” (scavenging in old houses). In fact, this journal is the book we’re reading.

The novel is filled with descriptions of a past slowly disappearing under a nature indifferent to humanity’s disappearing or being let go by people who no longer have the leisure  or desire to care about the same things people once did. Knick knacks, for instance, as Griz notes early on:

Ornaments. Trophies. Mementoes. Things that meant something to people once, meant enough that they’d make a space for them and display them, something to see every day. We don’t really have ornaments, or the time for mementoes. Everything we do is about surviving, moving forward, keeping going. No time for relics or souvenirs.

Griz, though, is different, is “fascinated” by these things, and by lots of other things as well.  “Too many questions,” is a complaint Griz’s father often has, though in a good-natured way. That curiosity and fascination makes Griz a more engaging character, and also offers up some good excuses for some risky decisions so moments of danger or tension feel organic to the character rather than forced. It also means Griz has a good eye, and so again, the level of elegiac detail (as when he wanders through an old amusement park or an old church) makes some sense where otherwise it might feel a bit preciously advanced for such a young person. Griz’s love of reading also goes a good way toward explain the narrator’s language skills and “older” sounding voice:  “I know you can’t be nostalgic for something never actually knew, but it was that kind of longing the books often woke in me.”  As a cute little aside to the type of audience probably reading this book, Griz’s favorite are fantasy/sci-fi stories, in particular post-apocalyptic fiction, and so we get references to, among others, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Day of the Triffids, and The Road.

All that said, as noted I wasn’t sure at the start if I’d finish the book because the narration felt more than a little flat to me.  It’s hard to pull off an extended story without much human interaction, so that it’s almost wholly a first-person summary of “what I did this day, and then this day, and then this day,” and the language wasn’t quite lyrical enough, or startling enough to pull it off entirely.  Fletcher breaks the extended monologue up with some challenges and tense moments — encounters with wild animals, a sense of being watched, dangerous buildings — but I confess even as someone who enjoys a quiet, character-driven story I was feeling mighty impatient by about 40% in .  Luckily, it was shortly after that point that another character enters the story, providing a lengthy break from being solely in Griz’s head. 

I don’t want to say much more about events as it would too easy to spoil the novel.  A few twists in the novel, one of which I saw coming and one I feared coming, I’d have rather done without. And the ending didn’t fully work for me either.  On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if all three of those aspects are some readers’ favorite moments, so mileage may vary.  Same with the literary references, which came a bit too frequently and too on point for me. 

I will say Griz’s voice did eventually win me over as I fell into its rhythm. I don’t know that there’s a lot new here in the bittersweet melancholy that is often part and parcel  of a post-apocalyptic depiction of a world gone by, and I still wished for a bit richer style, but in its muted, sometimes-lyrical repetition, there’s a cumulative impact to it that has its own power and is by itself worth reading the book for. As are the themes of loyalty and love, of isolation and connection, of loss and forgiveness and of what “humanity” means in a world almost devoid of humans.  Not for action fans, but recommended for those who enjoy slowly unfolding stories that whisper more than they shout.
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