A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2019

Member Reviews

This story grabbed me from the beginning and really never let go. The setup is pretty simple: Griz lives on an island (formerly known as Scotland) with his family and two dogs. One day, a stranger arrives to trade with them and ends up stealing Griz's dog. Griz sets off after the stranger to get his dog back and adventure ensues. The extra nuance here: most of the world's population is gone after an event called the Gelding where most people suddenly stopped being able to have children. Griz and his family survive by scavenging and trading with a few people on the mainland. 

The story is told by Griz in the form of a journal as the adventure unfolds. I liked Griz's voice and sense of wonder as he saw many things for the first time (museum, amusement park) even though they started falling apart after "the end of the world." The descriptions of the countryside, the effects of several generations of neglect on structures and Griz' relationship with Jip, the other dog that makes the trip with him, were fantastic. The ending to this book was surprising and very clever. I really enjoyed it--great cover too!
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I’ll keep this short and to the point, because it would be way too easy to veer into spoilery territory, and this book is best experienced fresh and free from a whole lot of expectations. It’s a wonderful story about love and loyalty, centered around a quest to retrieve a beloved dog, and filled with danger, unexpected alliances and moments of grace, bravery, and defiance. And yes, a little sadness too.

The title says a lot about the basics of the book. The key point is that this is a world of after — nothing is as we know it. And it’s not because of a world war or other doomsday scenario. Instead, the world basically went infertile, except for a very small percentage of people who didn’t. There was a last generation, and once they died out, the people who remained — about 7,000 worldwide — were left to live on in whatever fashion suited them. The world we know was essentially dead. Nothing new was made or created, and people survived through farming and scavenging (or, as Griz’s family calls it, “viking” — they’d go “a-viking” to see what they could find to reuse and repurpose on their own little isolated island).

Told through Griz’s first-person narration, the story takes us along Griz’s journey, across the sea and through an abandoned and alien mainland… because a stolen dog cannot be forgotten. I loved the writing, both plain and unembellished, yet full of fun word play and cadences.

I really truly loved this book. It’s sad and frightening, but also lovely and inspiring. Griz is a terrific, memorable main character. The story wraps up well, neatly enough to leave me satisfied, but I still wish I could learn more about this world and the people left in it.

Highly recommended. What a treat!
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Touching and compelling, I loved every minute of this adventure. It was very well thought out and left me wondering what aspects of this world will be left for the next when it finally moves on.
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For those who like their apocalypse books to have a lot of action, this isn’t it. It is a journey. It has been at least 2-3 generations since the end of the world as we know it. Griz has been living on an island when a thief comes and steals Griz’s dog. That is when Griz’s journey begins. The story is told in a journal format as a book for a long dead boy in a photograph found by Griz. Since Griz has lived only on an island and has never been on the mainland, there is a lot of describing of the landscape and how it has changed. There is a lot of reflection by Griz and we learn about Griz’s family and life back on the island as well as what happened to cause the end of the world. The story builds slowly and the ending was something I didn’t quite expect. It took me by surprise. The ending really made the book for me.
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3.5 stars. Something about it reminded me of Orphan Island. It was slow to start and it could have been fleshed out more, but from a diary perspective, it worked. I enjoyed the reading of it, but I don't see it having broad reader appeal.
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I received this novel from Orbit Books through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

Post apocalyptic worlds can come in a wide variety of flavors, most of them having in common the obliteration of the greater part of the human race: either by quirks of nature, pandemics, or climate changes, mankind finds itself vastly reduced in numbers and trying to survive in what is often a ravaged land – or a very unfriendly one.  This novel, however, starts from a different kind of premise, that the dramatically dwindling population is the consequence of a devastating decrease in birth rate, one that results in the progressive, unavoidable emptying of the world, so that vegetation and fauna retake control of a landscape in which humans are more intruders than anything else.

A few enclaves survive, however, either small groups living together for support, or isolated family units: the latter is the case for Griz, the narrator of this story, whose family dwells on an island off the Scottish coast. It’s a harsh life, one made of hard work and constant struggle against the failure of ancient machinery cobbled together ingeniously from the remnants of the old world and made to function without the aid of electricity or propellants, both things having disappeared together with civilization as we know it.

Still, it’s not a bad life, despite its tragedies: Griz’s twin sister Joy died several years before falling from a cliff, and their distraught mother, searching for her child, fell badly and suffered a head injury that left her absent-minded and incapable of fending for herself. Griz’s father, older brother and sister are a tight-knit family unit, occasionally trading with the next-island neighbors, and surviving through sheep farming, some scavenging in the abandoned areas of the mainland (they call it “viking”, from Viking raiders or old) and whatever forms of agriculture the island climate allows.  And of course there are their dogs, Jip and Jess – part of the family and Griz’s best friends and faithful companions.

Things change for the worse when a passing trader elopes with Jess: like humans, dogs have suffered in their reproductive abilities and female dogs have become quite rare in litters, so Brand – that’s the name of the trader – knows he will get a good price for Jess somewhere else.  Incensed for the theft, and the awareness that the whole family has been deceived by Brand’s easy manners and tall tales, Griz jumps on one of the family’s boats and launches in pursuit of the thief, intending to retrieve the stolen dog at any cost.

What follows is of course an adventure in an unfamiliar and dangerous world, but it’s also a coming-of-age tale and a lesson about never losing sight of your humanity, no matter how harsh and unforgiving the situation becomes.   And it’s a story about the bond between humans and dogs, as well, showing us that they are not just intelligent creatures who have stayed at our side since the dawn of time (Of all the animals that travelled the long road through the ages with us, dogs always walked closest), but also the kind of companions we can always rely on, their love and devotion coming straight from the heart and never filtered through self-interest or artifice.

As easy as it is to like Griz as a character, the moments in which this youngster truly shines happen in relation with Jip the dog: they are not merely friends and traveling companions, they look out for each other, care for each other’s well-being and share a bond that goes beyond the need for words, since they seem to understand one another through an unseen connection – not so much a connection of the mind, as one of the heart.  As Griz tells the thief, in a heated exchange about the lack of laws following the fall of civilization: “…but if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you. If we’re not loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?”. Jip and Jess are family and as such they deserve the same kind of faithfulness and love as the rest of Griz’s parents and siblings – and in those simple words we can find the essence of this story and of Griz’s journey.

A side of this character that will not fail to endear it to us bookworms is the love of stories, the pleasure Griz takes in being drawn into them and letting the mind wander along the “what if…?” path that we all know so well: strangely enough, Griz’s main focus is on post-apocalyptic stories, which to me sounds like a tongue-in-cheek sort of joke and also as a curious parallel, since it’s a sub-genre I’ve always been interested on.  For me, I think it’s a matter of superstition – sort of: as long as I can read about all the ways the world might end, I know it all remains firmly in the realm of fantasy; for Griz it’s a way to understand how the world truly ended: being born in the aftermath of it all means that any information has been filtered through second- and third-hand retellings and there is no certainty that things truly happened that way.  Then there is the pure joy of losing oneself in stories – not just dystopian ones, of course: life on the island, with its definite boundaries and the need for constant hard work, does not leave much room for the mind to wander, and it’s only through books that Griz is able to move across a whole universe of possibilities. 

And when the journey begins in earnest, when Griz is alone in the wide world beyond the borders of the tiny island, it’s the knowledge gleaned through books that helps in the difficult business of survival or that makes the sights and wonders more relatable, either thanks to scientific information or – again – to stories read in the past. And so the deep forests of the mainland (something that the islands lack) make Griz remember passages from The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings; or the need to escape from confinement is fueled by recalling The Count of Montecristo, and so on.

Above all, this is a story about love, loyalty and steadfast determination, but it’s also a journey of discovery: of an unknown – and sometimes unknowable – world, but also of oneself and what it means to be human. You will find a wide range of feelings here: fear and delight, joy and terror, anger and compassion – this is the kind of book that will steal your heart, taking you on an emotional rollercoaster driven by a writing that at times becomes almost lyrical despite its deceiving simplicity.  I found much more than I expected here, and I would not have missed it for the world.
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A dystopian Swiss family Robinson meets Little House on the Prairie and then the Quest. Good book. I really enjoyed it
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This book pulled me right in from the first page and I felt as if I was on the journey with Griz. The story takes place after the Gelding, a post-apocalyptic society. Griz lives with his parents, two siblings and his two dogs, Jip and Jess, on an island near what was formerly Scotland. They have some books and find it interesting to read the authors who wrote in their time about what it would be like at the end of the world. One day a man appears in their camp, Brand, offers them some marmalade which was laced with a drug and sent them all unconscious, except for Griz who ate very little of it. Griz realises that Brand has taken most of their food and stole his dog Jess. Griz resolves to set out, find Brand and rescue Jess. His journey is amazing and this book is a must-read, not just for fans of science fiction or fantasy, but for anyone who enjoys a very good read.  There are many surprises during this book!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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So many surprises! A very compelling read. I grew very attached to the dogs, then the people, then the plot.
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Thank you to Orbit Books and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest view.

This is an outstanding book!!!  I received the first 5 chapters to read and was intrigued so I requested the completed book and am soooo glad that I did!! 
This book is about a boy living on an island, just off the shores of Scotland, in a time after the world's population has been decimated by some kind of disease or bioweapon that has stopped the reproduction cycle. There is a very, very small percentage of people not affected and so Griz lives in a world where the only humans who he knows are his immediate family and a neighbouring family on another island.
One day a stranger shows up and is interested in trading with Griz's family and even more interested in Griz's dogs Jess and Jip. After an evening of hospitality and conversation, Griz awakens in the morning to find his family seems to have been drugged and the stranger has disappeared. Not only has the stranger sailed away but he has stolen Griz's dog Jess.
The stranger's boat can be seen on the horizon so without a second thought, Griz grabs a few supplies and along with Jip , he takes after the boat in hopes of rescuing Jess.
From here we follow along with Griz on an adventure to the mainland where he must overcome many challenges of a world that has been left in decay in hopes that he can save Jess.

This is a very well written book with a narrative that flows so easily and flawlessly. It comes across as very straight forward and you feel like you know exactly where the story is going...……. until you don't. That surprise twist totally threw me for a loop. It had me second guessing if I had missed some important reveal. When I got to the end I turned to the first page to start reading again to see if I could see just where the author had deceived me and if there were any clues that could have indicated the truth. This is one book you definitely need to add to your TBR list no matter what genre you like!

Bravo C.A Fletcher that was very well done!
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Thank you to Orbit for an early EARC of this book!

I found this book to be so original, and very enjoyable! The point of view of the main character, Griz, was entertaining. This book takes place after the apocalpse of the world. Only a few people have survived and were able to sustain life. The main character narrates what life is like after the world ends and what they have to do to survive. Having a dog is the most important thing to him and the people of the world. They don’t have material things and the only things they love and adore are their dogs. I found this very original story wise. One day an outsider comes to Griz’s world and takes his beloved dog! Griz takes this so hard and won’t give up until he finds her. He then goes on an adventure to get her back, no matter what it takes. I will gush about this book forever! I am a dog mom and my dog is my everything, so I can relate to Griz and I too would do anything for my pup! Highly recommend!!
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i have always liked dystopian novels, and this is a very good one!   The boy, Griz, has to search for his stolen dog.  Told from the perspective of Griz, it is a wonderful and touching story.
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[Review to be published April 11th on The Nerd Daily]

If you read one book this year, I beg you that this be the one. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World will break your heart in all the right ways.

In a confessional writing style, Griz recounts the impulsive pursuit of the stranger who came into the lives of Griz’s family – which has already been touched by tragedy – betrays their trust, and absconds with their beloved dog. Set in a world which has been ravaged by an event which saw the modern world, barring a few who had natural immunity, unable to reproduce, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World charts Griz’s journey across a depopulated world; the world which we left behind.

The isolation of travelling through a depopulated world is the overriding characteristic of the novel. The imagination which Fletcher exposes in considering how exactly the world would look if suddenly we were all unable to reproduce, is masterful. So much has been thought through, such as the different ways in which people responded to the ‘baby bust’ apocalypse, and the amount of intellectual legwork done to really consider this what the world through which Griz travels looks like, is truly impressive.

The descriptions of the old world being slowly eaten and retaken by nature, are so beautifully evocative and vivid, that they drew an immediate parallel in my mind to the detail and haunting beauty portrayed in something like The Last of Us (see here for why you should play if it you haven’t).

Fletcher tenderly observes facets of life which we take for granted: the miracle of recorded music, or how it feels to be surrounded by people, making for visually lush reading. It’s safe to say that the writing is very reflective; we are in Griz’s head, after all. I do realise that isn’t for everyone; I’ll admit, it didn’t make for light reading, given the concentration it requires to be able to envisage what is being described, and as I read, a sense of melancholy would inevitably descend upon me and linger. But that isn’t a comment against the book, but merely a comment about the type of book this is.

I read a review which criticised the book for the fact that Griz’s writing was far too sophisticated and reflective for a fourteen-year-old (I think – I’m reasonably certain that age is mentioned, but I can’t find particular reference to it, regardless, Griz is only an adolescent). However, Griz is thoughtful, deeply introspective and reflective, and a voracious reader. That, taken in combination with the fact that a post-apocalyptic world requires people to grow up fast in order to survive, left me feeling that it was plausible enough for a younger narrator to have a sophisticated and thoughtful voice.

This melancholy reflectiveness, taken with the grammatical decision to eschew quotation marks in keeping with the form of a stream of consciousness journal confession, brought to mind two books: the Life of Pi, and All the Pretty Horses. Normally I’m not the world’s biggest fan of post-grammar writing (no quotation marks), but the manner in which it is used gels perfectly with the style of the book, which makes us the reader, the imagined audience to whom Griz is pouring out the heartbreak of a saga across the remains of our society, perfectly immersed in the mood of the book.

In terms of actual action of the book itself – the manner in which the plot plays out, I felt this was a truly unusual storyline. I genuinely had no idea where the story would end, or even what would happen next. Even as we are given foreshadowed warnings about the manner in which the story unfolds (for example the comment that it is the unexpected book which saves Griz’s life), I still could not have anticipated what eventuated. I did guess one of the twists, and was so busy being impressed with myself about it that I completely missed many of the others. The one thing I will say regarding the twists is hold in your mind when reading something Griz says towards the book’s conclusion: when a liar says they will tell you the whole truth, listen carefully for the shape of what they don’t say.

A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World is a hard novel to review without giving too much away, or overexplaining it. The delight in it lies in the experience of the reading, of the beautifully constructed sentences, of the lingering sense of sadness at the world which was lost, at the heart which nestles in the centre of the story: the relationship between a person and their dog. It is a beautiful book, and I loved it so much that even though I was given an e-arc, I think I will have to purchase a physical copy for myself when it comes out this month, because I would really love to re-read it (and force my friends and family to read it, too).
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Thank you to NetGalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World takes place far beyond the end of the world as we know it. The main character Griz lives on an island with his family and dogs, hunting and farming in the only world he knows. When a stranger with enthralling stories pulls up on their shores, Griz's life will change irrevocably. 

I really enjoyed this book. I would call it more an adventure story than post-apocalyptic, because the end times don't play a huge role in the plot. I would have actually liked a little more background on how the modern world ended, and how the remaining population is surviving (although to be fair, Griz as the narrator probably wouldn't know those things). I liked the action and Griz's determination and strength. It was fascinating to see the ruins and relics of what would be our world through the character's eyes for the first time. Also it has a journal format, which I found pretty endearing. A unique and interesting adventure for YA fans! 3.5 stars
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I read the preview and i wanted to read the whole book. This was an unique type of dsytopian story. I really enjoyed the world that author created it. I could perfectly picture the places. I loved Griz. His love of books and his dogs was adorable. I would recommend this book who wants to read different end of the world story. Thanks for this early copy.
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This was a wonderfully written dystopian book.  The book takes place hundreds of years in the future where there are no computers, few books, and even fewer people. A plague has all but wiped out humanity.   Dogs are also rare and Griz treasures and loves his two dogs, Jip and Jess. One day, a stranger visits to trade with Griz’s father and ends up stealing one of Griz’s dogs.  Griz decides to sail after him to get Jess back. An epic adventure ensues involving peril, unlikely friendships, and hope.

There were so many beautiful descriptions of the places where the main character, Griz, lives and travels to rescue his dog.  Griz quotes from The Hobbit about going on an adventure which I thought was interesting because with both books, you feel like you are actually walking beside the main character.  I could actually see the post apocalyptic world being described. Because of the decrease in the human population and the post-apocalyptic setting, there are many thought provoking ideas and sentences that relate to today’s society and what our future might hold.  

I decided to read this book because I am a huge dog lover.  I can’t imagine my anguish if one of my dogs was stolen. The author definitely caused me to have lots of anxiety over the dognapped dog.    I could totally relate to Griz’s sadness and determination to get his dog back at all cost.  I highly recommended this book
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This is a fresh take on how the world may be when modern civilization comes to a halt.
The book is an exciting adventure that really explores the psychological aspects of a survivor and their POV of the world around them.
I believe that the title is too long and that a more creative one could make this a modern classic.
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Received via Netgalley for review. 

When I requested this book, I definitely thought it was going to be more juvenile than it was. The premise seems basic: someone kidnaps somebody's dog, they give chase, things happen. But Fletcher injected some true humanity and a sense of optimism, if not hope, in his writing that changes the feeling of the book. And all of the survival actions that Griz undertakes seem realistic and like things someone in that position truly would do (marking landmarks on the map, smoking rabbit, etc.) which helped with the realism.

Basically, human beings and dogs are going extinct because somehow 99% of the population went sterile/barren and died off. What few remain live off the land in small, isolated groups. Griz doesn't know how well off they were until a thief comes, drugs them all, and takes off with not just material things, but their only female dog. 

There were some beautiful lines/ideas throughout (like the idea that dogs have stayed through our side for centuries, never turning their backs on us and always staying loyal and loving, and we dragged them down with us for it; that without loyalty and love in our lives, there's really no point to living), and the journal style was fine. Griz's relationship with John Dark was wonderful and touching. 

The only reason this isn't a five-star review is because some of the foreshadowing was too heavy-handed and just too much in general. The reader always knows when something is going to go wrong or reappear because Grirz will flat out say "but things were going to get worse" or "how could I know I would need this thing again soon enough," which got a little tiresome. Trust the reader a little! And, while I was pleased about it, the ending was a little too pat.
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I’d like to thank NetGalley for the eARC for my honest review. A spellbinding dystopian marvel! Full of hope, full of sorrow, and so many wonderful exciting twists. I don’t ever like to  add any kind of synopsis to my reviews, so all I will say is its worth every moment you spend enjoying it.
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Mesmerizing, captivating, page-turner, must read are just a few words that apply to A boy and his dog at the end of the world. This book was so well written, with characters that came alive in my mind. I’ve never read anything like this story and can only hope to again in the future. It is rare that I read a book and not anticipate where the story is going and how exactly it will get there, but this book blew me away. I wish I had a camera on my face when I hit the 90% finished mark, because I know my mouth must have dropped opened and my eyes must have bugged out! I so did not see that coming and I can hardly wait to recommend this to friends, family, co-workers, everyone! Fantastic! What a gift of a book.
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