Bites

Published March 27, 2012.

Author website.

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone. 

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?  (goodreads.com)

There are very few stylistic things that’ll keep me from reading a book.  One is stream of consciousness.  Holy crap, even though we may not thing COMMA our natural thought process still involves pauses and full stops.  Let’s use some punctuation.  Another is phonetic voice.  And I’m not talking about a few lines of dialogue; I mean the whole damn book written phonetically.  Personally I think it lends to a very clunky, awkward reading experience that’s slow and labored and ultimately has me focusing more on how to say the words I’m reading than the story itself.  This is the only reason why I won’t read BLOOD RED ROAD.  I don’t care how good it is.  I can’t read phonetic voice.  This has been a personal preference for over a decade now and thankfully it’s very rare when I come across it.

Imagine my surprise when I open the pages of my ARC for AFTER THE SNOW.  I had zero indication that this could have been phonetic.  Had I known I would have absolutely passed on reading it for review.  It’s just not a style I can swallow.  And AFTER THE SNOW is in a very southern voice so after a couple of pages Cletus made his way into my head and wouldn’t get out.  I couldn’t get past the voice.  In the couple dozen pages I tried to read I can’t even tell you what happened.  I don’t rightly know.  But the language is so embedded in my brain that I can’t get rid of it.

The best example of why I just can’t read this –

But he’s my dad, like I said, and you got to respect your dad I reckon. My mum got dead when I been a baby still scrieking in my ass rags. That happen a lot up in here when the snow been deep and your breath freeze in the air. But Magda live with Dad now, up in our end of the house. Magda’s in charge of the little kids, and I don’t envy her that job. If it been me, I’m gonna bash them all.  (ARC page 6)

No.  Just . . . no.  I’m sorry.  No.  Not only is it incredibly stereotypical but it’s overwhelming.  I can’t read an entire book written like this and be expected to focus on anything other than the pronunciation of the words themselves.

So it’s a DNF for stylistic reasons.  It could be the greatest story in the world.  I can’t get past the phonetic voice.  Based on how popular BLOOD RED ROAD is I’m guessing a lot of people can.  Have at it, I say.

Ban Factor: Unknown – I could barely get past the words as they were written let along figure out what the hell was going on in the plot.

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