The Wolves of Winterby Tyrell Johnson Published 2 Jan 2018
|The Wolves of Winter.pdf|
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.
Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.
But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.
"The Wolves of Winter" Reviews
an aftermath novel set in canada where a family protects their seeeecrets and struggles to survive in the snowy wasteland with no way of knowing the state of the wider world, the number of remaining humans, whether the sickness that kicked off the apocalypse is still a threat… the only way this book could have courted me harder would have been to have made all the survivors also be red pandas.
although endangered, we survive, wheeee!
this lists and is priced as an adult title, but there’s definitely crossover appeal for a YA audience: the POV-protagonist is a crossbow-wielding 23-year-old woman named lynne (née gwendolynn, but that’s the worst name you can have in a wilderness survival novel - it's a long dress getting caught on things) and there’s a romance angle that’s full of complications, which is another tick in the “teens’ll dig it” column.
it’s a post-apoc survival story with a SF filling, but its closest genre-pal is the western; lone man drifts into a town of people suspicious of lone men, wounded but too manly to accept assistance until the womenfolk insist on nursing him back to health, attracting the interest of the fetching young daughter although he is aloof and taciturn and hints about his dark past and things seem to be settling into a routine until, you know, it turns out that hell followed with him. reckoning commences.
but of course in this case, the “town” is only five people (and one ‘cross the way), and the fetching young daughter is blood-related to two of the three men, so her interest in the mysterious jax is partially rooted in the serious lack of romantic or even sexual options at the end of the world. (because the one ‘cross the way is a unappealing in every possible way) and jax may not have a horse, but he does have a dog, named “wolf,” because he did not know it was a dog. and he has never tasted strawberries. which spotlights both a lack of imagination and an oddly sheltered past, but again - lynn’s not looking this gift horse in the mouth, and as it happens, jax has other attributes of the badass variety that are going to come in handy when the uneventful but safe life her family has enjoyed for seven years is compromised, secrets are exposed, lives are at risk, and the “town” is suddenly under siege in the most spectacular western-y fashion.
lynne is herself medium-badass - she’s good at killing animals with her crossbow, setting traps, and other assorted wilderness skills her late (and sorely missed) scientist father taught her. but she’s fairly sheltered herself, physically small, and she reads a lot younger than 23 on the page. a lot of it comes down to her never having been tested in particular ways, so she never had to develop certain skills, and as the book progresses, she comes more into herself, but she can be a frustrating character at times for a reader who wants her crossbow-heroine to kick ass and take names on every page.
my one other complaint is that the ending was a little too tidy. [spoilers removed]
still - it’s a fine book, and my complaints are really just the personal preferences of someone who reads a lot of stuff like this and has seen pretty much every variation on the theme. this one is particularly strong in its descriptions and atmosphere-building of the natural world; the silence of the wilderness and the isolation and just the nothingness is great. there’s a real presence to it that’s profoundly haunting. honestly, you write like that, you don't need the bells and whistles of the world ending to flesh out a harrowing survival story. nature's already scary enough if you're unwary.
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Tyrell Johnson’s The Wolves of Winter starts out as a reasonably well-written, if undistinguished, post-apocalyptic tale – a sort of YA-ish version of Cormac Mcarthy’s The Road (the “ish” owing to the fact that the protagonist, Lynn, is a handful of years older than the usual YA heroine). It quickly turns into a reasonably well-written, undistinguished, YA-ish post-apocalyptic tale crossbred with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a development that doesn’t do it any favors. Lynn is a little bit Katniss (hunts with bow and arrow) and a little bit more Bella (attracted to dangerous men, makes bad decisions, needs to be rescued a lot).
After a nuclear war AND a superflu wipe out most of the planet’s human population, Lynn and some of her surviving family and friends band together in the snowy wilderness of the Canadian Yukon. Their difficult if mostly peaceful existence is disrupted when a mysterious, reclusive stranger named Jax wanders through the vicinity, bringing a dangerous governmental agency known as Immunity on his tail. Lynn, of course, falls for super-strong super-fast Jax, whose most marketable skill is murdering people.
The Wolves of Winter is economical and fast-paced, and Johnson has the basic storytelling skills required to write a not embarrassingly bad novel. Johnson can’t really be blamed too much for the unoriginal setting; your options are limited when you plug “nuclear war and disease ravaged wasteland” into the worldbuilding machine – there’s basically a sliding scale between Station Eleven and Mad Max, which Johnson scoots closer to the former. He can, however, be blamed for all the other trimmings. The characters are rather bland to begin with, but the total lack of chemistry between the romantic leads is unforgivable. Their banter is clumpy and insipid, and Johnson contrives a number of obvious and threadbare excuses for slamming them together (e.g. Jax rescues Lynn from being buried in a blizzard, seemingly only so the old “we have to get naked and spoon to save you from freezing to death don’t worry it’s just science” card can be played). Worse still is the cookie cutter villainy of Immunity; every representative of the organization is a sinister, sneering, underhanded creep lacking any shred of human decency, all the better for Jax to slaughter them indiscriminately and with moral impunity. I kept hoping he would at least hunt down the head of their HR department for their questionable application review process (Are you indifferent to the suffering of others? Yes. Are your employer’s goals more important than basic human rights? Of course. You’re hired!).
A novel only for the most forgiving of readers.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada, the author and NetGalley for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
“The Wolves of Winter” by Tyrell Johnson is a post-apocalyptic novel, where a young woman has the capacity to save the world. But don’t base whether you read it or not on that statement alone. Comparisons have been made to “Hunger Games” (Suzanne Collins) and this is accurate, however “Wolves” is an entirely novel, creative enterprise worth its own individual praise.
In “Winter”, Gwendolynn McBride and her family are living in a world that has been shattered by disease. After losing her scientist father to “the flu”, she moves with her brother, mother and uncle to the Yukon, hoping the cold will provide some protection from the airborne virus. Virtually isolated, Lynn and her family have found a way to survive. When a stranger comes to their camp and the McBride’s take a chance and shelter him, their life changes quickly. An agency named “Immunity” is on the hunt for their stranger (Jax) and soon Lynn is a target. Lynn begins to question- what does her mother know? What was her father studying? Why does Immunity know who she is and why is she in danger?
This story is not completely innovative- a strong, female protagonist with special skills/powers that could save the world alongside a rough, isolated young man who turns out to be different than expected, and a world torn apart by outside forces. There are some similarities to both “Divergent” (Veronica Roth), and “The Hunger Games”, as well as any of the other immeasurable YA-pocalypse stories out there. However, I can say, I am a huge fan of this genre and really enjoyed “Wolves of Winter”.
Lynn is a great character, with just the right amount of spunk and sass without being snotty or irritating. The cold, white, winter landscape of the Yukon sets the stage for the feelings of isolation that run through the McBride “household”. The story is also told in small chapters, which makes reading this novel a breeze.
Obviously, this novel will have a sequel (if not more), so based on that assumption, I will not evaluate the ending. Although no sequel was directly mentioned, it would be against the rules of this genre to not provide at least two more novels and make it into a series (and then eventually a movie, or perhaps a TV series, or maybe both). I am however, excited to follow Lynn’s journey through the cold Canadian north and see if she succeeds in her quest and if she continues her (predictable) relationship with Jax (but of course it’s predictable, considering he’s the only male she has come in contact with that isn’t her family or directly trying to kill her). This book surprised me and I was impressed tenfold. Please continue this series, oh Great Book Gods!
THE WOLVES OF WINTER by Teryll Johnson - Thank you so much to Scribner for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own.
I am a BIG fan of post apocalyptic reads and this fits the bill! Lynn and her family survive after nuclear war and the plague of disease. They cross the border and make their way to log cabins in the far reaches of the Canadian Yukon. Lynn learns to hunt, protect, and survive in the wild. She then meets Jax and his dog, Wolf, and at that point things really start to take off.
I’m very impressed with Lynn—she’s a strong female protagonist and I love everything about her. Johnson really nailed it with this book; I love the vivid descriptions and phenomenal character development. You feel as if you’re right there in the snow experiencing everything. The imagery in this book plays its own character.
Although it starts off slow and steady, I was completely addicted from page one. It felt like no time had passed, and I was finished with the book. It is thrilling, intense, and mysterious! I highly recommend THE WOLVES OF WINTER and please, please, please let there be a sequel!
I rate this book 4.5 / 5 stars!
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This novel has a little bit of everything I love mixed into it - a post-apocalyptic/dystopian society with elements of mystery and coming of age of protagonist, Lynn. The setting is the wilderness of remote Canada. The pacing was excellent and the writing was smooth and easy to follow. Johnson knows how to ratchet up the tension and create great atmospherics. I enjoyed the action throughout and even the hint of romance, which I don't usually appreciate, felt as though it fit in with the overall tone of the book. I generally do like a little romance if it is done well and complements the story. The world-building is vivid and the ending is a satisfying conclusion to the tale.
The timing of this release was excellent - there's nothing like reading a book describing beautiful snowy and desolate landscapes when it is cold and/or snowy where you're reading!
I would like to thank Tyrell Johnson, HQ and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest and impartial review.