My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.
My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.
Then the thief came.
There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.
Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?
Early on, it was obvious that this book was something different. Instead of a violent, action-packed story about the fall of civilization, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a quieter, more introspective novel told from the perspective of someone born long after the end of society.
The book is marketed as similar to Station Eleven, and I think that’s an apt comparison. Rather than exploring how human culture survives the apocalypse, this is a story about the importance of family and the powerful bond between humans and dogs.
Griz is born over a hundred years after the Gelding ended the world. There was no nuclear disaster, no sudden societal collapse. One day, humanity simply found that it had become almost entirely infertile. The apocalypse happened slowly over the course of the decades that followed as the world’s population grew old.
A few thousand people remain. Griz and his family live peacefully on an island all to themselves, along with their two dogs. Every now and then they take their boat to go foraging, which is how Griz finds the various books (like McCarthy’s The Road and Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) he makes references to throughout the novel.
And then the thief came. The rest of the story is Griz’s journal chronicling his quest to be reunited with his stolen dog.
As a brief side note, I do wish more time had been spent building up Griz’s relationship with his dog at the beginning of the story, but this was more than made up for as the story progressed.
Fletcher’s prose is hauntingly beautiful and offers poignant insight into our world through Griz’s exploration of its ruins. There is very little dialogue in the book, and it’s presented without quotes or any form of easily recognizable punctuation. The dialogue, like the story, is just written down as Griz remembers it. Sometimes it’s necessary to read past what Griz actually writes, since he records words he doesn’t recognize phonetically.
I hope you have tissues with you, because you’ll need them. A Boy and His Dog doesn’t pull punches. That said, it’s never bleak. There’s an underlying current of hope that courses through the story. Most of the remaining humans still have some basic decency and Griz is a capable protagonist with more agency than he often realizes.
Early on it was obvious that this book was something different. But it soon became obvious that the story is something truly special.