Book Review: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Released January 2, 2018!
Book: The Wolves of Winter
Author: Tyrell Johnson
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Page Count: 320
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Cover Artist: —
My Rating: ★★★★
I received this copy from the publisher via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
Set in future, the post-world war world is decimated. Not only have nuclear weapons wiped entire countries out, the yellow flu hit the remaining population and took out almost all of the survivors. When the flu struck, people fleed from cities, traveling to more remote locations away from the populace. Gwendolynn and her family left Alaska for the desolate landscapes of the Yukon. Their small village hadn’t heard from the outside world for several years after the migration, until one day when a stranger appears in their territory. The man, later known as Jax, is an untrusted and unwelcomed guest to the hunters. Jax, knowing his place to be out on the frozen tundra alone, knows that he cannot outrun his past, nor evade his future. Staying with them will only bring harm, but is it already too late?
“First you survive here.” He pointed to my head. “Then here.” He pointed to my stomach. “Then here.” He pointed to my heart. “You have to have all three.”
When I was into the first 10% of this book, I immediately thought two things:
- I want some venison steak, right now!
- I want to go to the Yukon, right NOW!
This is the perfect read for the Winter months, especially if you like your books with a side of edginess. Look at me and all my food analogies.
The Wolves of Winter is as feral as it sounds.
It’s safe to say (for myself as the reader) that the atmosphere is absolutely indespensible. It makes everything more believable, not to mention tangible. This may be the most realistic post-apocalyptic read I’ve read to date. While these types of books fall into the Sci-Fi/Dystopia genres, it didn’t feel like one to me. The overtly technological futuristic setting that I was expecting didn’t exist. This book has the ability to cleanse the palate of overly-indulged dystopian consumers. When these (minor) elements did appear, they felt like an intrusion on the plot. Instead of a decimated world (which is still was in ways), wildlife adapted and flourished. It gave the illusion that everything was still alright in the far reaches of the world, untouched by humans and their corruptible ways.
What had happened to the world had made animals or monsters of us all. Survivors or murderers. Sometimes the line between the two was blurry…
Another major part of this book that I appreciated was the complex simplicity each character possessed. The survival they endured each day in the brutal landscape wasn’t overdone. The characters may not have loved their situation, yet, they didn’t constantly dwell on the past and wishing for it back. They too, adapted. They too looked to the future. Gwendolynn’s character was exactly like this. She shares her honest feelings about the past, present, and unpredictable future, without it being overbearing. Putting myself in her situation, I felt as though I’d feel and think similar things. I appreciated how practical everyone’s mentality was. It made me feel like I could really connect with most of the characters, especially Gwendolynn.
The only thing I found in Gwendolynn’s character that I didn’t like were her frequent thoughts of sex, attraction, and reproduction to Jax. Sure, in this setting, it makes sense. I think it’s a natural thing to consider at that point seeing how the majority of the world’s population no longer existed. Even so, I thought her deliberations we a bit much, and rather brash.
For how much I appreciated certain aspects of this book, I equally disliked others. There is one scene where the main character Gwendolynn is sexually assaulted and then raped in another by the same man. His animalistic brutality is unprovoked and deterring. On top of that, the amount of profanity throughout left a bitter taste in my mouth. If my calculations are correct, I counted 208 words. I haven’t seen this book being marketed as Young Adult, but if it is, know that it is not Young Adult appropriate! The amount of detailed violence, sexual content, and profanity are far too graphic and frequent for immature eyes.
I believe this will be one of those reads where the reader either loves it, or hates it. There isn’t much room for middle ground. Because some of its traits are so extreme, they may make the entire plot off-putting, or, entirely engaging. While I felt strongly pulled to love this book, I couldn’t due to its negative points mentioned earlier.
“Grief never goes away. It just changes. At first it’s like molten-hot lava dripping from your heart and hollowing you from the inside. Over time, it settles into your bones, your skin, so that you live with it, walk with it every day. Grief isn’t the footprints in the snow. It’s the empty space between.”