In a post-apocalyptic world plunged into an ice age after a period of dramatically shifting climate society is coming unglued. On the outskirts of thi...moreIn a post-apocalyptic world plunged into an ice age after a period of dramatically shifting climate society is coming unglued. On the outskirts of this society, independent and surviving on their own, lives Willo and his family. They eke out an existence in a world turned cold by hunting, trapping and working what little farm land there is in the very brief spring and summer. Willo has gone half-savage in many ways. He wears the skull of a dog on his head, doesn’t read very much or very well, and spends most of his days out setting traps in the freezing, driving snow with an instinct for hunting honed from growing up in the midst of an ice age. It’s the only world he has ever known.
One day his family is taken by men in trucks while Willo is gone and he comes back to find that he is now all alone in this freezing wilderness. What follows is his journey to survive in the cold while finding answers for where his family has gone. What he discovers is ultimately almost more than he can understand, but is chilling for the reader that understands all too well.
This is another novel that uses phonetic spelling in speech to convey how Willo communicates and relates to the world. His thoughts are also simply arranged and laid out. This did not bother me in After the Snow as much as it did in Blood Red Road. I think, in that case, the punctuation was a deal breaker for me. In After the Snow the quote marks were left intact so it increased the readability for me and as I was able to enjoy the spelling for its original purpose, gaining more insight into the speaker by being able to read not just what they said but how they said it.
We see things from Willo’s point of view throughout and his point of view is pretty limited since he grew up outside of main stream society. He is left in the dark a lot about what is really going on and further more often doesn’t care because so much of what happened to bring about the ice age and society’s collapse is just completely outside of his circle of things he cares about. Willo is very practical, they are in an ice age now and that’s what needs to be dealt with, he’s concerned with survival not politics. That being said there is a lot of politics between the lines that is sailing right over Willo’s head but is there for the reader to understand and piece together. The final picture will leave you cold.
After the Snow was written in response to Snowmageddon back in 2009, when the U.K. found itself buried alive and London simply shut down for a few days. What if it kept on snowing? What if winter never ended? What would modern society do, and how would it function and survive, in the midst of an ice age? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.
Making the transformation from a shy girl to a confident woman is no easy task, especially when you are growing up amidst the fading hopes of once gre...moreMaking the transformation from a shy girl to a confident woman is no easy task, especially when you are growing up amidst the fading hopes of once great Hollywood. It becomes even harder when your father leaves you for New York City, your ex-starlette mother becomes a suicidal alcoholic, and your name is Louise “Weetzie” Bat. We know Weetzie’s young adult life from the books in her Dangerous Angels series, starting with the self titled Weetzie Bat. I have given her a lot of flak in the past for the way she deals with things and her, occasionally thoughtless, outlook on life and finding happiness. I have a new appreciation for just how hard it was to make the transformation from child to woman, and manage to lead a life of hope and happiness and love in spite of her past, after reading about that difficult transition in Pink Smog.
Little Weetzie has a very difficult life once her father decides he no longer wants to be in the picture. Her mother attempts to commit suicide and then slips into a deep depression aided by alcoholism. Weetzie is left to fend for herself, cleaning their apartment, cooking their meals, trying to make sure her mother eats and bathes while trying to get her out of the funk she is in. Weetzie is rocked by her father leaving her with next to no explanation. At middle school Weetzie has to deal with bullies who couldn’t care less what she was going through. She has two friends to fall back on, but one struggles with an eating disorder and the other is possibly a male prostitute. All three struggle with problems bigger than themselves and there are no competent adults around to step in and help. This is very deep and heavy stuff for anyone to deal with and Weetzie must find a way to prevail or get pulled under.
Pink Smog works as a great introduction to the character of Weetzie. For a new generation unfamiliar with the Dangerous Angels series there is now a coming of age novel showing Weetzie as she was at an age they can identify with. Unlike other Weetzie Bat books this one is written within the confines of Weetzie’s perspective and is very linear and straightforward in story telling. The magical language was toned down a bit and while the magic of LA was still present it seemed muted when shown in relief next to the stark reality of the difficulties Weetzie faced. I can’t help wondering if this was deliberate, not just to tone things down for a new generation but also because Weetzie isn’t capable of seeing all the magic of the world she lives in just yet as she is in a haze from all the problems she is suddenly having to deal with at thirteen.
People that grew up with Weetzie might not like this book as well as others in the series because this was clearly written for younger fans. I recommend for old school fans to check out Necklace of Kisses if you haven’t already. I do think middle schoolers will appreciate a book that was tailor written for them and introduces a whole new generation of Weetzies to the magic of Los Angeles. Parents might want to know that while most of the above issues Weetzie deals with are glossed over to some extent there is drug use, bullying, and language as well.
Ultimately Weetzie learns to see the magic and beauty in things and it is wonderful to see a glimpse of the cool, confident high school Weetzie we meet at the beginning of Weetzie Bat. Her transformation was by no means effortless and, like I said, I have a better understanding of Weetzie now that I not only know her as the slinkster cool teen and confident adult she will be, but also as the scared overwhelmed kid she was. Reading about Weetzie overcoming her problems and coming of age into the magic, fun-loving young woman we know she can be was magical to see.