Review: Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine

Rating: 6.5/10

Synopsis

In an endless winter, she carries seeds of hope

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented extreme winter.

With grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, she begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachian Ohio. But the icy roads and strangers hidden in the hills are treacherous. After a harrowing encounter with a violent cult, Wylodine and her small group of exiles become a target for its volatile leader. Because she has the most valuable skill in the climate chaos: she can make things grow.

Urgent and poignant, Road Out of Winter is a glimpse of an all-too-possible near future, with a chosen family forged in the face of dystopian collapse. With the gripping suspense of The Road and the lyricism of Station Eleven, Stine’s vision is of a changing world where an unexpected hero searches for a place hope might take root.

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for a review copy of Road Out of Winter for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

There is just something about post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction that draws me in. I don’t know if it is because of the direction our country is headed in or seeing devastation unlike our own reality, but it is always intriguing to see the different takes authors delve into within their novels.

Stine takes a somewhat similar approach to McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, though instead of ash, the country is covered in an extraordinary amount of the white fluffy stuff. This, of course, leads to an extreme shortage of crops, which leads to an extreme shortage of meat, which leads to an extreme uptick in insanity and violence. Which, you know, is exactly the sort of chaos society is expected to fall into based on the fact that we are a fallen people.

Wylodine, our main POV, has been left behind to continue her “family business” of growing sweet sweet Mary Jane, but with Spring deciding to turn its back on everyone, winter’s bite gets deeper and deeper. She decides to journey away from home in search of her mother, and on the way, meets a few decent folks balanced out with several unsavory characters. The way she grows throughout the novel is probably my favorite part, mixed with the suspense that unfolds as they journey along south.

While I did enjoy the novel and Stine’s writing, it just didn’t blow me away. Her take on a post-apocalyptic America was definitely original, but I sort of saw everything coming from a mile away (except maybe a couple of the instances with large groups of ‘unsavories’).

If you want a fairly quick read in the vein of McCarthy and Mandel, Road Out of Winter is a pretty good place to get your kicks.

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