A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World

Posted on 05/31/2019 in misc

book cover for a boy and his dog at the end of the world

At a time when it looks like we may be here to experience a real post-apocalyptic world, this richly realized picture of earth about a century after the fall of humanity is a compelling setting for what is ultimately a hopeful and uplifting novel.

"The Gelding", in which just about every person on earth becomes sterile leads to the virtual elimination of humanity in a single generation. Teenager Griz lives on an island of the coast of what was Scotland with his family and two terriers, Jip and Jess. The population of the world is measured in thousands of people. So it's a big deal when a vagabond traveler and trader shows up at Griz's home. It's a bigger deal when he steals away the next morning with one of Griz's dogs.

The ensuing chase to rescue Jess takes Griz and Jip through the ruins of human civilization untouched by anybody or anything for over 100 years. I found the descriptions of the remnants of civilization in this world particularly interesting. Griz is very well read (books survive, Kindles not no much) and well versed in the sort of survival skills you would need in a world without electricity, plumbing, or antibiotics.

The boy versus the world thing happening here made me think of a dystopian, modern-day take on Huckleberry Finn. The rich descriptions of this world also evoked Huck's descriptions of the Mississippi river towns he experienced. I'm not saying the writer is the next Mark Twain, just that the story set up reminded me of that.

Ultimately, this is a story of the importance of family, hope, courage, survival, loyalty, and of course, the love of a good dog. Or in this case, two dogs.

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