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Hear the Wolves: 12/09/17

Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott

Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott is about a left behind group of people trying to reach safety during a snow storm, being pursued by wolves. Per the endnotes, the novel was inspired by a dream and the jumps the plot's in logic show that origin. But the novel is set in Alaska and that real world setting doesn't mesh well with the narrative flow.

Sloan is a hunter but she's also deaf in one ear. For reasons not really stated, her mother left the family. So Sloan's been raised by her father and older brother. Except one morning she wakes up and they are gone — with a note that she should be able to take care of her self while they are out on a routine errand.

Sloan though panics and goes into town, finding it mostly abandoned except for a few stragglers — people either too old to go, or children who have no reason to go. Is this a dystopian future? No — everyone has left to go vote.

Vote? Really? It was at this detail that book basically lost me. Sure, Alaska is remote. But given that modern technology is mentioned including satellite weather, computers, and so forth, this isn't the days when voting might have required leaving the village.

Curious — I looked up how voting works in Alaska. Like California, they allow anyone to vote by mail regardless of situation. Right there, that means there's no reason a remote village would need to head somewhere else en masse to vote.

Now while the majority of the town is out somewhere else to vote, the stragglers are faced with two problems — a blizzard, and hungry wolves. They are in a town. A town that has doors with locks. They have supplies. They probably have ways to communicate with the absent adults, and with emergency services.

Thinking back to The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, homesteaders went to the town to get supplies. Yes there were shortages, but this happened after days and days of snow and the delay of the supply train due to the blizzard. It didn't happen within hours of the adult population leaving.

In all this messy set up is the lesson that human encroachment on wildlife has forced animals into urban areas. There are coyotes in Golden Gate Park, for example. So wolves coming into the town during a blizzard is to be expected.

But this isn't about wolves in a temporarily underpopulated village. Instead the remaining people — who could easily ration whatever is in the town and hang out together in a home, or a hotel, or a pub (a la Shaun of the Dead except with wolves instead of zombies), they decide to head out to a hunting shelter because there's food and ammunition there.

Really? They are in a village and they can't find any food or ammunition? And if they stayed in the village and just locked the damn doors, they wouldn't have to worry about the wolves. Wolves don't have opposable thumbs!

All of these ginormous plot holes could have been avoided if the setting were somewhere completely imaginary. If the village were in a fantasy setting or a horror one — the sudden disappearance of the people, the lack of supplies, and the need to leave the village could be explained away.

Two stars

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