Cover Image: The Blue Book of Nebo

The Blue Book of Nebo

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I was surprised by how much was packed into this book. It is not a very large volume, but we get the complete dystopian package.
The story has two narrators. The mother-son duo alternate turns in keeping us informed of both the past events that lead up to the current scenario and the current ways that they are leading their lives. Both are keeping secrets from the other.
The narrative goes into the finer workings of the survival requirements and the possible (many downsides) to an apocalyptic scenario. What I wanted was either more of a backstory or an epilogue, given the way things ended. If I had even one of those two things (both might have been asking too much for a story of this size). I would have enjoyed this more than I did.
The people in this little family mean to do their best, and that comes through quite vehemently in the pages. The way the world is at the time is not conducive to a happy and carefree life, which is also quite obvious.
I would recommend this to readers who want to try something different in a dystopian setting. It is more about family than about world-building, something that one must be aware of going in.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
Was this review helpful?
Delivered as a sort of diary, 'The Blue Book of Nebo' is the accounts of two POVs - Dylan and his mother Rowenna, in the town of Nebo – as they write their experience after The End in a blue book, as a sort of historical document for anyone who finds it after they're gone. The events that led up to The End are frighteningly realistic and I took some mental notes on what to do should that time ever come (like printing off info on growing food, making traps, filtering water etc, before the electricity goes out!) I was *this close* to making a disaster survival kit on the spot.

It's a quick read at 144 pages, but it definitely had scope to do a little more. It lies in the weird limbo between a short story and a novel, giving just enough to make me care and want to know more, but never ultimately delivering. With that said, I enjoyed what was there and it's a refreshingly close-to-home take on a genre I love, I just really wish there was more of it.

It wasn't until I'd finished that I realised this was originally published in Welsh as 'Llyfr Glas Nebo' and I'm so annoyed I didn't read that version first! I had no idea. My finger definitely isn't on the pulse of the Welsh language publishing industry, and I should make more of an effort with that.

Knowing it's a translation makes a big difference to the lasting impressions I have. There's emphasis on the Welsh language being something Rowenna felt was unaccessible to her as a teenager at school, with her teachers writing her off and her not really understanding why the language was/is important. As someone who went to a 100% Welsh language school I've had numerous discussions with people around this and it's definitely a realistic experience. She learns to love the language by reading Welsh books after The End. I'm really curious to know what the perspective on all of this was, or at least how it's delivered (like, do they speak English up to that point?) in the original.

Also, why was Siôn renamed as Dylan in the English translation? And Dwynwen changed to Mona?! This honestly makes no sense to me, as someone who spent many years on camera trying to pronounce the names of fantasy characters (granted usually failing miserably, especially with those damn fae), I believe wholeheartedly that they do not detract from the story. We need to normalise using traditional names. Dwynwen is one of the most beautiful names in existence and English readers missed out.

I have so many questions that I think this might need to be the first time ever that I read a story twice, in two languages...
Was this review helpful?
Told from the viewpoints of Dylan and his mother, we see how they live their lives. Each takes it in turns to write in the little blue book they found in someone’s home, offering their views on the experiences they have.
There was a certain charm to this, though little actually happens.
What we are told relatively early on is that there was some kind of nuclear attack some years earlier that appears to have wiped out most of the population. Referred to as The End, Dylan and his mother have had to turn to past knowledge and trial and error to survive. They grow their own food, have learned essential skills and have communication with nobody else since their next-door neighbours left.
The alternating viewpoints offers both a new pair of eyes to reflect on their present and a more adult voice to fill in the gaps and offer insight into what happened/how it impacted. It felt rather sanitised, and though some unpleasant things have evidently happened the level of detail offered is not quite as I expected.
I wonder how different this would have been to read in the original Welsh. It was interesting to have some focus on the Welsh language, but I’m not really sure what we’re meant to take from this.
Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this before publication (though I’m sorry not to have got to it sooner).
Was this review helpful?
I really didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book, but I was not disappointed!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
Was this review helpful?
A single mother with her son at the end of the world. A young boy grown too fast. A disaster. A diary. And the love of Welsh culture.
This novel for teenagers is intimist, post-apocalyptic, lyrical. Short. And as powerful as Richard Powers or Megan Hunter.
Was this review helpful?
The cover looks so peaceful. A quaint little house, above the Welsh town of Nebo. A place to escape the humdrum of daily modern life. And, in some way, that is true however it's not because the owner seeks solitude, but because The End happened and now, the occupants must navigate their way through this new post-apocalyptic world, alone?  

Never fully understanding what The End actually was and how it truly happened, Rowenna, her 14-year-old son, Dylan & 2-year-old daughter, Mona must now live a life that no longer involves electricity, smartphones, or any of the advances that the current modern-day world affords us. 
Forced to "steal" from abandoned houses & shops, Rowenna & Dylan have spent the last 8 years building a self-sufficient home complete with polytunnels and even conservatories for their crops. They lead a simple life, seemingly content, fully embracing the freedom of not being chained to technology. 
On the surface, they have a loving mother-son relationship, but everyone has their secrets and these 2 are no different. Finding a blue book, they both begin a journey of writing about The End from their perspectives. Each agreeing to never read what the other has written. 

This started a little slow for me, and that might be because I don't read dystopian novels often, but once I got into it, I liked how different they both saw the world, their true feelings about each other, and the questions they wished could be answered. 
Dylan, being 14 has a sweet innocence about him that develops beautifully, growing into a strong, independent young man. 
Rowenna can be distant and somewhat cold, but once she begins writing in the blue book, you connect with her, understand her more and the motives behind what drives her. 

The wave of emotions I went through was a complete surprise to me. In one chapter I had tears blurring my vision from the first 4 words. 
There are unexpected revelations along with many touching moments showing that even in the bleakest of times, humanity is still something to believe in. 

I am so grateful I got to read this. And even though it was slow to start, it's a book I will definitely buy and read again. 

Not being Welsh, I do wish there was a mini pronunciation guide, but it doesn't detract from the story. 

Thank you, NetGalley and the publishers, Firefly Press for giving me an ARC ebook in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
For some reason, when I was sent this by Netgalley, it escaped my notice that this is a Dystopian tale, even though the clue is in the blurb.

We follow Rowenna and her son Dylan who live in an isolated cottage near Nebo, in Wales. It is 7 years after The End and Rowenna and Dylan seem to be the only people left. On one of their trips to Nebo to go through the empty houses to see if they can scavenge anything useful, they come across a blue notebook and Rowenna suggests that the two of them write their thoughts and feelings down in the book. It becomes a place to write about secrets and tell truths as mother and son have made a pact never to read each other's entries.

Dylan was eight when The End came and his entries are more about his life now while Rowenna's are not only about her life now, but also about her life before The End. We are not told about The End, what it was, and I think this is a deliberate choice because the characters do not seem to know what caused The End. Through these entries we come to learn about the relationship between mother and son, how they adapted to their new life and what they have learned, not only in terms of surviving, but also about each other's strengths and weaknesses.

It is a fascinating read and so different from other Dystopian novels that I have read. This really focuses on the effect on individuals. Rowenna and Dylan have an existence that you could say is calm and structured and so when I reached the end of the novel, I found myself almost fearing for their way of life. The ending is deeply profound.

I really enjoyed this, thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this.
Was this review helpful?
I expected this book to be bleak, but it was far more harrowing than I even anticipated. That’s not a criticism, just a warning for readers to be emotionally prepared! It’s an incredibly powerful dystopian tale told from the alternating perspectives of a mother and son, living in an isolated area of Wales after ‘The End’. The voices are poignant and the whole book is incredibly haunting. Reading this during coverage of COP26 was an experience I won’t forget.
Was this review helpful?
Beautifully written novel, translated from Welsh - a young woman and her son learn to survive in a post-apocalyptic (near) future. Well worth reading!
Was this review helpful?
Both mother and son develop an understanding of adjustments that had to be made in order to survive. The book becomes an in-depth study of how humans can resolve issues and basically become one. It is a harrowing story but a thoroughly mesmerising one.
It was heart-warming and deeply satisfying how the two coped with everything life throws at them. Dylan is clever, resourceful and single-minded, willing to put in the hard work. Rowena had to live through The End so, her memories are fresh and unsavoury at best.
The incidents of the story are absorbing and, at times, touching. The Blue Book of Nebo is generally aimed at young adults, but it is a great read, for adults too. 
Thank you, NetGalley and Firefly Press, for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I received an early digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

The Blue Book of Nebo - this book has been on my radar for some time. When I was learning Welsh a few years ago I was intrigued by the original Welsh book but never quite felt confident enough to read it. 
When I discovered the English adaptation I knew that I had to read it. 

I was not disappointed - told as a dual narrative through the voices of Dylan and his mother The Blue Book of Nebo explores their lives and relationship with each other after The End has come. 

Full of big questions and emotion this book makes the reader think long and hard as you question what are society really is and how things can change in an instant. 

A book that should be read not just by young adults but those of us who are maybe a little bit older as well.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a good read, it was emotive and heartwarming and a great toouc area for young adults. I really enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
A post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2026, “The Blue Book of Nebo” tells the story of Dylan, his mother, Rowenna, and baby Mona who eke out a living in the isolated village of Nebo in north-west Wales, learning new skills, and returning to the old ways of living. They are surviving in the aftermath of a catastrophe that Rowenna names “The End”, when the electricity went off for good following a nuclear war, and life changed forever. Despite the close relationship between them, the mother/son dynamic changes as Dylan must look after the family unit. Both of them have secrets, and these secrets are revealed as they record their thoughts and memories in a found notebook - the Blue Book of Nebo. Dylan writes about “now” and his mother writes about the “olden days and The End”. They agree not to read what the other writes…”in case”, but Dylan doesn’t know what that means. The story unfolds in Dylan and his mother’s entries in the Blue Book. 
Dylan is too young to fully remember the time before and just after The End and things like computers and mobile phones which his mother took for granted; he measures distances in “steps” as this is a measurement directly related to his daily experience of getting from A to B. Dylan’s “voice” is simple and unfussy, strongly evoking a life of hardship and necessity. But he is intelligent, resourceful and mature beyond his years, and he eventually realises that he “fits” into this new life. 
Rowena’s sections speak of the breakdown of society and panic buying in supermarkets, which resonates strongly with our current times. Rowenna is remarkably resourceful when The End comes, but she is permanently affected by it; she has been hardened and her sections are quite heartbreaking to read as we learn the truth about what happened to her after The End. 
Translated from the original Welsh-language edition, which was awarded Welsh Book of the Year in 2019, this book resonates with me as a native of that country, and many Welsh books are mentioned in the story; there is also a subtext about the loss of the Welsh language. Dylan loves to read and books are almost like characters in this story. The writing throughout is spare, concise and affecting. This is described as a YA novel, but the story transcends that rather restrictive tag by being quite harrowing in parts, and can be enjoyed by an older audience. Terrific and memorable in any language, with a profound ending, “The Blue Book of Nebo” is an absolute triumph.
Was this review helpful?