Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed killed his parents and wiped out 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.
Teacher Notes available at Text Publishing
It’s always great to introduce Australian debut authors and this is a fantastic first book by Mark Smith, a Victorian based teacher.
He clearly understands what makes young people want to read and this book certainly has many of these important attributes - action, a good versus evil storyline, strong emotions of loss and love, and above all, hope in the face of a dystopian world.
Set in a place where a virus began killing people and nearly all the girls were eliminated, sixteen year old Finn is left to fend for himself. Fortunately, his Dad, who owned a hardware store, saw this possible outcome and stashed away supplies, reminiscent of a doomsay prepper.
But after two years of virtually no contact with other humans, nineteen year old Rose stumbles into Finn’s life as he helps save her from the Wilders (a group of wild men on the hunt for females and happy to kill anyone who might try to stop them.)
Finn’s lonely but comfortable world is rocked, but how far is he prepared to go to first help Rose, and then maybe try to find and rescue her younger sister Kas?
This book often reminded me of John Marsden’s Tomorrow When The War Began, which I loved when it was released in 1993 (was it really that long ago?).
This is a wonderful read that ticks many boxes to make it a great classroom text for Year 8 and 9 students, but it’s more that that - it is a book they will gladly consume, discuss and remember.
I highly recommend it for all high school students (and older readers as well). I hope we read a lot more of Mark Smith’s work as this is a tremendous debut!
Reviewed by Rob