In C A Fletcher’s, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World (2019), Griz lives on the island of Mingulay, off the West coast of Scotland, with his family and two dogs. It’s been a while since the world has gone through the Gelding, which reduced fertility rates to one person in a million, resulting in a global catastrophe (whose cause is unknown) and the sea levels have risen due to global warming.
Griz lives with his family (or what’s left of his family) on the island, their closest neighbours live a fair distance away on another island. After a family trauma, the family manage to get by, while Griz entertains himself by reading from his secret stash of books from the old world, which includes a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road, and Walter M Miller’s, A Canticle for Leibowitz. He addresses the immaginary reader of his journal — a person from the old world, now long dead (the reader).
Then, one day, a stranger arrives…
It’s difficult to talk about the novel without giving away the plot. What I can say is that this is an adventure following in the long tradition of animal companion stories.
C A Fletcher does a great job with the world building. The drama is revealed through Griz’s journal, which is mostly told rather than shown. There are regular tantalisingly cryptic asides about what’s going to happen later on in the story, and the narrative often preempts the dramatic moments that are about to occur only a few paragraphs later. As a writer I found that weirdly intriguing, just from a technical standpoint.
The novel has many Young Adult fiction tropes (the rite of passage, the young person against the world) although it’s marketed as a story for adults. It also follows the mode of a classic adventure story, a quest, a trek, a journey to a place. There’s a couple of big plot twists towards the end, which I didn’t see coming. Having read this I’m curious to see what C A Fletcher comes up with next. Something like this again, or something completely different?