After the Snow

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
After the Snow Book Poster Image
Harsh yet hopeful struggle for survival in a new Ice Age.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

After the Snow presents a fairly realistic depiction of what life in Europe might be like during another Ice Age. Willo and the other characters wage a constant battle against starvation and the elements. Their survival strategies remind readers how fragile civilzation can be.

Positive Messages

At the beginning of After the Snow, all Willo can think about is surviving long enough to rescue or avenge his missing family. But over the course of his journey, he begins to realize that his responsibilities are broader than that, that he must look after others and act as "a beacon of hope," as his father was fond of saying.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Having grown up in a harsh environment, Willo has learned to survive but isn't sympathetic to those who are weak and might be a burden. But over the course of After the Snow, he learns to have more compassion, to work with others for a common good, and eventually to dream of a brighter future.


Life is harsh in this new Ice Age, and violence plays a part in it. Willo must fight off packs of wild dogs, youth gangs, and cannibals during the course of After the Snow. He usually escapes major injury, but there's an intense scene when he's beaten and tortured by the villain. One of Willo's allies is shot to death in front of him.


Willo's sister is impregnated at age 14 by a middle-aged neighbor, but neither character actually appears in the narrative. An adult character is accused of being a "whore," but it's unclear whether she's actually a prostitute.


Profanity is used a few times to refer directly to bodily waste: "s--t" and "piss." In one intense scene, a villain uses variants of "f--k" about half a dozen times.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Various characters are depicted drinking alcoholic "grog," but it seems to be a matter-of-fact occurrence in this post-apocalyptic world. The effects of alcohol aren't dwelt upon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that After the Snow is a post-apocalyptic adventure that's more realistic than many, centered on one 15-year-old boy's quest to find his missing family in the wilds of Europe during a new Ice Age. There's some profanity (including "f--k"), a few references to sex, and depictions of violence against both animals (a pack of feral dogs) and among human combatants. One particularly intense scene involves torture and a murder.

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What's the story?

In a near-future Europe in the grips of a new Ice Age, 15-year-old Willo returns from snaring rabbits to find that his whole family has vanished without a trace. Determined to learn what happened to them, he musters his resources and sets off into the forest with a sled and as many provisions as he can pull through the snow. He stumbles upon a starving girl and her dying brother; from that point on, he has a hard time focusing on his quest, having to contend with feral dogs, cannibals, and government agents from the far-off city.

Is it any good?

AFTER THE SNOW is a thoughtful and compelling story of survival in a harsh and unforgiving future. There are no grand conspiracies, only groups of desperate people with conflicting agendas. Willo's story depends a little too much on coincidence at times, but there's no denying the plot's propulsive forward motion.

Some readers may not like author S.D. Crockett's choice of narrative voice: It's an unadorned, choppy, and consciously unliterary style. But others may see that Willo's interior voice matches his psychological upbringing and that it gives his story an extra sense of urgency.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the possible effects of climate change and how it might affect weather patterns in the future. Is a new Ice Age possible?

  • During times of hardship, how do governments treat their citizens? Why are people willing to obey new rules when they're hungry and frightened?

  • Is it better to stay in one place and fight for what you believe is right or to move on and try to effect change elsewhere?

Book details

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