My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.
My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.
Then the thief came.
There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.
Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?Goodreads
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a post-apocalyptic novel in which the world’s population has been devastated by The Gelding. Women don’t get pregnant anymore. No more babies. As the older population dies off, there are no new generations to take over. When the book opens, there are only thousands of people left in the world, and they are living in small groups, mostly made up of just family.
Griz’s family lives on an island off the coast of Scotland. Early on the reader learns that Griz’s sister died in a nasty accident, and Griz’s mother is also harmed in the aftermath of that accident to the extent that she cannot speak or function on her own anymore.
But they’re living the life. They’ve adapted to the way the world is and they’re mostly self-sufficient. They do some trading and socializing with one other family that lives on another island nearby (if I remember correctly), but for the most part, they keep to themselves.
Then a stranger shows up (by boat) on their island — which is unsettling since there are so few people left in the world — and says he is there to do some trading. Griz’s family tentatively welcomes him into their home…and then he promptly steals a bunch of their stuff, including one of Griz’s dogs.
And so the adventure begins.
Griz takes off in his boat (with his other dog) to chase down the thief and get his dog back, but because the world is so foreign to Griz, he has no idea what to expect of the outside world. He’s never been to the mainland. He has no map. He has very few supplies. He’s winging it.
No spoilers, so you’ll have to read the rest for yourself if you’re interested in finding out what happens.
I thought this was a cute book. I say “cute,” because it’s definitely not as serious as some of the other post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong — there is some very serious subject matter in the book and a world like Griz’s is not fun and games — but I think Fletcher took a much lighter approach to this book than other post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. And I think that worked well because Griz is so naive about the outside world and what to expect from his travels. Griz really has no clue what anything outside of his island is like. So he’s discovering this new-to-him world and there is a feeling of fascination throughout the book, even when bad things are happening. I think it’s the discovery bit that keeps the book from getting too dark.
I was kind of pissed that Griz took his other dog with him. Look, kid, you’ve already lost one dog, you have NO IDEA what to expect out there, you haven’t even thought about how you’re going to take care of yourself, let alone your other dog. But that was also very realistic, because what teenager wouldn’t just run off without totally thinking through what they are doing? Heh.
Overall, I enjoyed A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World. Was I blown away by it? No. But I’m not a dog person, so I assume I didn’t feel the same connection to Griz that many dog-owning readers did. The book was well-written and the story was pretty good. I particularly liked reading about how the natural environment had taken over with so few people around to screw it up. There wasn’t a ton of character development, which I was slightly disappointed with, but not enough to keep me from finishing the book. I would love to have a whole book about The Gelding while it was taking place…something character-driven about how people are dealing with it physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I think THAT could make a fantastic book.
I think I would recommend this to readers who like lighter post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction. Those of you who are dog lovers would really get into it, I think.
Have you read A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World? What did you think?