Snowflakes

Yesterday I finished the excellent One By One by Ruth Ware. To further indulge my love of everything Ruth Ware, I decided it was the perfect time to check out her two recent short stories. Following her new ebook, We Will Be Watching, I just listened to her recent audiobook, Snowflakes. This short story is part of a six-book serious on Amazon Audible called Hush.

Summary

Snowflakes is quite unlike any other Ruth Ware novel (or short story) that I’ve read. It’s told from the perspective of Leah, a teenager who’s spent the last 10 years of her life on a secluded island with her dad, sister, and two brothers. They left their home in the city when war forced them out. Although their mother was killed on that last, fateful night, the father and four kids were able to escape.

For the past decade, the family has lived hidden away from the world they once knew. They farm and grow animals; the dad occasionally takes his boat back to mainland to scavenge for materials. But the father is also increasingly worried about invaders, and devotes his time to building a wall around their island home.

This dystopian, apocalyptic story eventually reaches a climax of invasion and battle, but it leads to some unexpected revelations, too.

Review

Right off the bat, Snowflakes is strikingly different from any Ruth Ware book I’ve read before. Instead of a fast-paced thriller, this feels more apocalyptic and dystopian. Is it a science-fiction post-war novel? Is it set in the future? An alternate version of today? And the tone is different, too, coming from the perspective of a naive teenager. It could even be a YA story, in contrast to to the more adult perspective of Ruth’s other books.

More than anything, Snowflakes plays like a family drama set against a war-torn past. We see Leah’s father and siblings as tensions rise. The family takes care of each other, and they survive off their own farming, and yet there are secrets that lurk. When a fight between father and son divides the family, Leah and her remaining siblings start to sense something is wrong.

Much of the book feels tender and contemplative, and yet straight-forward and innocent. But eventually, the family must face the impending battle as the enemy lands on their island shore. It’s a dramatic scene, a small-scale war with all the fear and pain that comes with it.

Even so, nothing could have prepared me for the final act. I can’t tell you anything without spoiling it, but for me the last part of Snowflakes was impactful and moving. It’s the kind of ending that changes your perspective and elevates the book to a new level.

Final Thoughts

Snowflakes is a very different but intriguing sort of story, and it shows that Ruth Ware can still surprise her readers. It feels like a dystopian novel from the near future, but it also weaves in family drama and issues of politics. Be sure to listen to this audio short story and share your thoughts below.

If you want more Ruth Ware short stories, check out her recent ebooks, We Will Be Watching and The Tale of Mrs. Westaway (itself a companion to her fourth novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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