I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Solitude is its own kind of madness. Like hope itself.”
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. I knew it was going to be post-apocalyptic and involve a dog, but that’s really all I knew. And I’m incredibly glad I went in so blind.
“Hope can keep you afloat in troubled times. It can also drown you if you let it distract you at the wrong moment.”
Griz is one of the very few members of Earth’s dwindling population. Over a century before we meet him, an event called the Gelding had taken place, rendering all but a scant few members of the population incapable of reproduction. No one ever figured out the catalyst for the Gelding, whether it was a biological weapon gone wrong or simply Mother Nature deciding that enough was enough. Whatever the case, the world’s population went from billions to thousands as people began dying of old age. Griz and his family live on a little island with their dogs, and they’re mostly happy. Until a visitor appears that will change the course of Griz’s life forever.
“Better a brain than a fist. A brain can hold anything, from giant things, like distant stars and planets, to tiny things we can’t see, like germs. A brain can even hold things that aren’t and never were, like hobbits. A brain can hold the whole universe, a fist just holds what little it can grab. Or hits what it can’t.”
What instantly won me over in regards to this book was how much it reminded me of books from my childhood. Not in post-apocalyptic setting, but in the idea of man both battling against and find a way to peacefully exist with nature. This book brought me back to stories like Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain and Island of the Blue Dolphins. In those novels we see kids suddenly thrown into solitude in the elements, whether by choice or happenstance. Seeing these young people find new strength within themselves in the face of adversity always brings out loads of emotions within me.
“Forgetting is a kind of betrayal, even if it’s what happens to all grief. Time wears everything smoother as it grinds past, I suppose.”
That being said, even though I enjoyed returning to something from my childhood, I didn’t connect with this book on an emotional level for the majority of the book. There were a lot of elements I loved. I appreciated that Fletcher took the themes I loved as a child and crafted a story that felt more adult. I loved the closeness Griz had to his dogs, and his family, and the books that he had discovered and treasured over the course of his life. As a side note, can I just say how much I adored the literary references? Authors that I love were mentioned with great care, and books that I haven’t read yet suddenly became even more appealing because of Griz’s love for them. Fletcher did a great job giving Griz a unique voice, and his storytelling style had a really cool balance of foreshadowing that never gave away too much.
“I lose myself in stories. I find myself there too.”
While I enjoyed the book from the start, it didn’t blow me away until around the last fifty pages of the book. There were a couple of massive plot twists, one of which completely blindsided me. Looking back, I still can’t see any hints of that twist. Those twists are what rocketed this book from 3.5 stars to 4.5 stars. The author included a note at the beginning of the book asking that readers try not to spoil the story for others, and I think that’s an incredibly wise inclusion.
“If we’re not loyal to the things we love, what’s the point? That’s like not having a memory. That’s when we stop being human. That’s a kind of death, even if you keep breathing.”
If you’ve been sitting on the fence regarding this book, I encourage you to give it a read. If this is a book you’ve been anticipating, I’m so excited for you to get your hands on it and have your mind blown like mine was. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is poignant and thoughtful and surprising, and will have you looking at the world a little differently.
Release date: April 23, 2019
You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!