This is a difficult book to read. It describes a harsh, violent world in which humanity is reduced to near Iron Age conditions. Life is nasty, brutish and short once more. It is also very cold. Winter reigns in this world of climate disruption.
The narrator of this tale, Willo, thrives on the wildness and inhumanity that is his home. He idolizes brutal strength and cunning and has little use for love or emotion or even a place by the fire. I assumed that he was perhaps autistic or schizophrenic though his "otherness" is never clearly diagnosed. However, even acknowledging that he may be mentally ill, it is difficult to be a big enough reader to sympathize with Willo at times. He doesn't want your sympathy, clearly, making it rather hard to care if he survives his trials or not.
And as this story is told in his words, the language is very difficult to navigate. The dialect that is his vocabulary is almost a language apart from English. In fact, some words have to be spoken before they are meaningful. It's rather a lesson in phonics.
Even so, I liked this book. For me, it was a unique view into a mind-set that is completely foreign and new. I could also see this a voice for many who do not show up in literature — or if so, they are painted in a negative light. Because Willo does grow to care even though the face he shows the world is as cold as the winter around him. So, much like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this story humanizes the cold face of mental illness.
I also liked that there are people out there who harbor my sneaking suspicion that climate collapse may not be too warm. It could just as well be the start of another Ice Age. And a return to Paleolithic Man if we do not find ways to preserve our humanity.