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The Road to Winter

Author: Mark Smith
$16.75
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ISBN: 9781925355123
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Synopsis

Twenty years ago, John Marsden's 'Tomorrow' series captivated a generation of readers. Now, Mark Smith's The Road to Winter tells a thrilling, primal, twenty-first century story of courage and survival in the Australian wilderness. Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company. He has stayed alive for two winters — hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage. But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley — an asylum seeker — and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush. And Ramage wants the girls back — at any cost. The Road to Winter is an unforgettable novel about survival, honour, friendship and love. It announces an extraordinary new talent. Read More

Readers' reviews

Thrilling Dystopian YA
What a debut for Mark Smith! An intense dystopian novel set in Australia, The Road to Winter is about the struggles to survive in a world turned upside down. There are also themes of friendship and love, including the special bond that Finn has with Rowdy. I really got wrapped up in this story as I read. I stayed up late to finish reading it, and when I awoke the following morning, all I could think about was getting back into the book to find out what happened next. I was extremely disappointed when I remembered that I’d already finished it and the next one isn’t available yet.

Such rich characters, having experienced loss, trauma and hardship. In some ways they are all broken, but they also possess much strength to have survived the sickness and the collapse of society. I really liked Finn, his gentle and caring nature, his independence and his love for Rowdy. He is quite resourceful also, trapping rabbits and diving for abalone to eat. Rose and Kas are much more feisty, and maybe even more determined to survive than Finn. They are also capable, clever and beautiful. Ramage, on the other-hand, is cruel and vindictive, a truly ugly person capable of the most heinous acts. I think many of the Wilders do Ramage’s bidding because they are frightened of him, and with good cause. It’s a shame the virus didn’t take him out! The sound of his trail bike is chilling; it announces impending hostility and fear, hard to forget.

The author has included a rather controversial and topical aspect to this story in the form of ‘Sileys’. This is slang for asylum seekers. In the story these ‘Sileys’ were bought and sold like slaves, property for their owners to do with as they saw fit. Australia is currently up in arms about the treatment of asylum seekers, who face off-shore detention in poor conditions indefinitely. It’s scary to think that our current methods of processing asylum seekers could ever devolve into open slave labour like in the story.

A thrilling read, The Road to Winter is suitable for high school students. It is to be the first in a series, so now I have to wait (trying to be patient, and failing miserably!) for the next book. Review by Sara
(Posted on 12/10/2016)