Series: The Road to Winter #1
Published by Text Publishing on June 27th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
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Finn's a survivor.
A hidden stash of
canned food and fuel.
He's kept himself alive, and clear of the violent gang controlling the north, for two winters - ever since the virus wiped out the town.
But now it's complicated.
There's a girl.
She's on the run, injured,
and she needs Finn's help.
But the secret she carries will change everything.
Mark Smith’s The Road to Winter has a sticker on the front, saying, “Guaranteed great read or your money back”. I’m happy to report that I thought it was, indeed, great! I’ll be keeping a hold of my copy.
Finn has been living with just his dog, Rowdy, for two years now, living on a stash of canned food, bottled gas and what he can catch in his rabbit snares. No-one else lives in the coastal town of Angowrie – they all either died when the virus struck, or moved away looking for better options to the north. When the Wilders roll into town chasing an injured and starving Siley girl, Finn puts his life on the line to help her.
Finn has done a great job getting himself set up with food and supplies, although he knows that things like gas bottles, batteries and his canned food won’t last forever. He catches rabbits and dives for abalone, and occasionally trades with an old man living nearby for fresh veggies. I loved that he still had surfing to link him back to his old life, before the virus came and changed everything.
The ‘Sileys’ are asylum seekers – very topical here in Australia at the moment. The term usually refers to those who are caught attempting to reach Australia by boat but instead are held in ‘processing’ camps on Manus Island (off Papua New Guinea) or on Nauru. In this slightly dystopian-sounding near future, the Sileys are actually sold off to Australians, effectively as slaves. Very little information is given about this background in A Road to Winter, which was disappointing. Perhaps we’ll find out more in future books. In any case, the two Siley girls show resilience that comes from being separated from their parents at a young age and forced to make the best of what they have. They are all so determined, and I can’t wait to see what the little group get up to next.
The story of the virus hitting is told gradually, and sounds pretty horrific. What if a virus really did hit Australia, killing most of the population? This book is described as ‘Tomorrow When the War Began for a new generation’, and while it doesn’t quite have the shock factor that the Tomorrow series had twenty years ago, these kinds of stories can be pretty scary – they force you to consider what you might do if something like this were to happen.
I loved the fast pacing and the feeling of desperation. This book is a very promising debut and I can’t wait to read more.
And now, I’m off to stock up on tinned food and batteries.
Read this book if you’re after a quick, tense read about survival in a coastal Victorian town.