Friday, August 28, 2020

Road Out of Winter

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine
MIRA: 9/1/20
review copy; 320 pages

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine is a very highly recommended wintery dystopian noir.

Wylodine (Wil) has a way with growing things, which has come in handy since she has been left behind on her own to grow the family marijuana crop on the Appalachian Ohio farm on. Two years previously her mother left for California with her boyfriend Lobo who owns the farm and the illegal business. Wil's life has been one of poverty, struggling, and paranoia. Now that spring, let alone summer, hasn't returned for the second year in a row, it seems that her world is only one of an endless winter now. Things look especially bleak because her friend Lisbeth is leaving town with The Church headed for some place warmer. So when Wil receives a postcard from her mother, she decides to set off to California. She ends up taking along two young men she rescued and the three set off with grow lights and supplies packed up in a truck and hauling Wil's small trailer house. The road is not safe, however, dangers abound and they encounter more than one cult on their freezing desolate journey.

Wil's paranoia serves her well and she exhibits an awareness, inner strength, and self-control that serve her well on her travels. The times are uncertain (much like they are now) and the road is risky, but Wil handles it all with intelligence and determination. She is a great hero and you will find yourself wanting the best for her, even though that wish is far from ensured. All the characters are guarded with their personal information, but perhaps during the end of the world paranoia will be the norm.

This is an absolutely compelling, un-put-down-able novel. I kept saying just one more chapter right up until the end. The writing is intelligent, adept, and atmospheric. This is a great story of making a family with those around you. I appreciate that beyond the content of a few conversations characters have, there are no lengthy lectures about climate change and environmental issues. Stine is smart enough to allow her plot to speak for itself rather than hitting readers over the head with a lecture. That keen sensibility in writing the dialogue and presenting her plot serves her very well. And even though this is a dystopian, there is poignancy and ultimately hope even as humanity may be facing its demise. This is a contender for one of the best books of 2020.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA.

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