When the question of “how the world ends?” had its answer, the next inquiry in line would likely be: “What has been lost and what is left?”
In the book A Boy and His Dog at The End of The World, the author, C.A. Fletcher, told us about the earth after apocalypse. In his version of fictional story, the world’s hit by the worst case of infertility caused by biological weapons, global warming, and you name it.
The series of extinction progress followed by a phase called the baby bust, whereas the last earth’s men have to watch the their own kind die one-by-one out of natural cause, accident and poor medical supplies, or suicide. No baby in sight, no successor, just a heartbeat waiting to go silence.
Yet, in some almost-isolated part of the world in the far future after the end of the baby bust, some humans managed to survive. But it’s not a village, or even a community, you can even count the member of the group by one hand. There’s man, and woman too, but breeding is still a question mark because the infertility still goes in the blood.
Griz, the main character of the story. was depicted as a 9-year old child trained with survivor skill ability. Humans are so rare, that the number of persons Griz ever met can’t make up for 2 football teams. This book is depicted as Griz’s diary, a series of letter written for a ‘friend’. Griz has family, the child’s not alone in this world, there’s Griz’s father, Griz’s mother, and two older siblings. But one day, Griz found a picture of a boy and a dog in an empty house in an island. No name, no identity, but Griz felt amazed by the picture of a boy and a dog in a civillized world, far before the apocalypse happened. So Griz decided to keep the picture.
Apart from scavenging food and supplies from the abandoned city and houses, learning how to make medical supplies and treat wound with herbs, herding sheep, tending crops, and reading wind direction to sail better, Griz also taking a very attentive care of the 2 dogs of the family: Jess and Jip. Griz care about the 2 dogs so much, that when a visitor from a far land, a stranger, a trader, who supposed to be a peaceful guest, stole Jess without notice, Griz decided to ride a boat with Jip in order to get Jess back.
“I wonder if it would be sad for you to think that the wild is well on the way to winning back the world you and your ancestors took and tamed.” – Griz, Chapter 14.
I think the most enthralling part of the story is how Griz and Jip traveled the old world, the fallen city, the abandoned tower, asphalt roads brimming with tall grass, brambles, and houses smelled of death. Silence and hopelessness are everywhere, glass shards and rusted metal transformed into silent traps, untreated wound is final, infection is fatal, humans don’t always kill for a simple need like food and shelter, sometimes for a feeling of defying extinction, but there’s also the tranquil and somehow peaceful notions of having the world for oneself, in one’s own pace, no pressure of morality and rules.
“Often I’d look at a stand of brambles and realise it was the body of a house, and then look around and realise I hadn’t noticed we were weaving through a collection of buildings in a village or on the edge of a town, surrounded by houses that had collapsed into mulch, or become roofless shells out of which trees now grew to a height of a hundred feet or more.” – Griz, Chapter 24.
I think the writer, C.A. Fletcher, knew how intoxicating and beautiful that is, to see how the plastic chairs and road sign pole mixing with nature, how the tree’s roots getting bigger every day and push the cement blocks upwards, finally making its way into the world, how nights that used to gleam with city lights are now full of crickets and howls, a big stage only for the moonlight and stars in the sky.
If you’re a sucker for that silence-but-strangely-beautiful version of post-apocalyptic world in a novel (think Station Eleven and The Girl with All the Gifts, also a bit of Jungle Book), you’re going to love A Boy and His Dog at the End of The World so much.
That, and a beautiful story that’s slowly unwrapped in such a delightful plot dynamic. You’ll know when you read it. I’m trying so hard not to spoil anything here.
Have a nice read!