The Wolves of Winter can best be described as a post-apocalyptic, dystopia. Nothing unusual in that other than it’s not YA. Most novels of this type seem to be firmly aimed at the young adult market – think Hunger Games as just one example – and hey, people like me who’ve always had a fondness for the genre can’t help but feel a little left out.
Lynn McBride lives with her family in the frozen wastes of the Canadian Yukon. Society has collapsed after global war followed by a deadly flu pandemic and they fled city life for first Alaska and then the isolation of the Canadian tundra. They’ve seen no one else in years (apart from one antisocial neighbouring survivor) and survive by hunting and foraging. When Jax, a mystery stranger arrives on the scene, it disturbs the equilibrium of their contained world.
Jax heralds the arrival of further survivors, notably the Immunity, the remnants of a shadowy government agency, who immediately before the fall of civilisation were attempting to staunch the spread of the virus by setting up isolation zones. Without divulging spoilers, it quickly transpires that the Immunity are not all they seem and in turn this leads to Lynn unearthing dark secrets about her own family.
The Wolves of Winter is engaging enough, it certainly kept me turning the page. Some of the description of the cold tundra landscape was beautiful and evocative. The book doesn’t break the mould however and there was nothing here I hadn’t encountered in previous books of its ilk. Furthermore, while aimed at adults, Wolves of Winterhas a definite YA feel, so much so I regularly forgot the protagonist was twenty-five years old rather than a teenager. This isn’t really a criticism as such, many adults enjoy reading YA fiction. That said, I picked up this title because I wanted something grittier, imagining a dystopian version of The Revenant; I assumed that as a novel aimed at adults this is what I would get but instead found this indistinguishable from many of the YA offerings.
In conclusion, The Wolves of Winter is an accomplished effort but it’s by far the best example of this genre that I’ve read.