Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Snow and Ash

Snow and Ash

Theresa Shaver
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
Theresa Shaver, 2015   ISBN: 978-0988003026

School is going to start soon and so ten year old Skylar and her mother are going to go to the mall to buy some back-to-school clothes. They are about to climb into the car when Sky’s father, Daniel, gets a phone call. He calls out to his daughter and heavily pregnant wife, they come back into the house, and then tells them that they have five minutes to pack up “anything you don’t want to live without for the rest of your lives.” Briefly he tells them that his friend Bill, who works for the U.S. military in Washington D.C., warned him that a nuclear bomb was dropped a short while ago. More are on their way. They have to get away.

Just a few minutes later Sky and her parents are speeding away from the city and heading for the Rockies, to what Sky’s mother calls her husband’s “Man Cave.” Are they really going to have to live in a cave, young Sky wonders?

As they are traveling to Daniel’s secret hideout, an EMP causes all the cars on the road to shut down, but Daniel’s truck keeps on going. He modified his vehicle so that it would not be affected by an EMP, which Sky finds quite shocking. What is even more shocking is the fact that Sky’s dad drives right past crash after crash. He even ignores two blood-stained children who are standing next to a smashed up car. Sky’s father explains than from here on out they have to focus on themselves. There is no room for sentiment in the world that is coming.

Both Sky and her mother are astonished when they see what Daniel’s Man Cave it is like. Technically it is a cave, but it is perfectly appointed so that it looks just like their former home. An AI is there to answer questions and assist them, and as soon as Dad retrieves the farm animals that he bought, they will be able to live in their new home for months on end. They are going to need to stay indoors for a long time because the bombing will surely be followed by fallout and then a nuclear winter.

While Daniel is getting the livestock that they are going to need, Sky’s mother goes into labor. Between them Sky and her mother are able to bring Sky’s baby brother into the world, but her mother hemorrhages and dies, leaving Sky to cope with the baby, and her loss, on her own until her father comes back.

Over the next weeks, months and years, Sky learns how to cope with loneliness and boredom. She learns how to fire guns and other weapons, she takes care of the animals, and is a mother to her brother. Her father starts to go outside to have a little time on his own, and during one of these trips, when Sky is thirteen, he is shot and killed. He is murdered for the clothes he wears and the shoes on his feet.

In a town not far from where Sky lives with her little brother, another child and his young sibling managed to survive the bombs and the fallout. When the war started Rex’s mother died when her car crashed due to the EMP. He was lucky that a woman called Belle (who has a daughter called Sasha) was happy to take care of him and his little brother Matty. The four of them came across a man called Daniel who picked them up and took them to the nearest town. He told them to take refuge in a store and helped them to stockpile food and supplies. He seemed to know what is coming and they followed his advice to the letter. Thanks to Daniel, Rex and his companions are alive.

Eventually Rex and his new family have to leave their hiding place to find new water supplies. As he is searching for water, Rex meets a boy called Marsh. Marsh and his two dads are holed up in a house in town and though Daniel warned Rex not to trust anyone, Rex decides to tell Marsh his story. The survivors get together and it is decided that and Rex, Belle, Sasha and Matt will go to live with Marsh and his fathers so that they can pool their resources.

For seven years Rex and his ‘family’ manage very well in the home that they share with Marsh and his dads. Then their well dries up and they have no choice but to move in with a group of people living in a hotel. Rex and his family members know know that the leader of this group, Ted, and his followers are dangerous and are not to be trusted, but they have no choice but to make this move. They need access to water, which they can have if they live in the hotel.

Then one day Rex and Matty leave the safety of their quarters in the hotel, they are kidnapped by some of Ted’s men, and are taken far out of the town and into the wilderness, which is where Sky finds them.

This gripping book takes readers into a future that is terrifying, grim, and full of dangers and unknowns. It is interesting to see how Rex and Sky’s lives and stories intersect and then separate several times over before they finally properly meet under less than ideal conditions. Readers will be intrigued to find out how these two young people move forward in their strange and alien world.