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Cover image for Winter's end
Winter's end
Uniform Title:
Combat d'hiver. English
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Information:
Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2009.
Physical Description:
415 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
HL 730 L Lexile
Added Author:
Fleeing across icy mountains from a pack of terrifying dog-men sent to hunt them down, four teenagers escape from their prison-like boarding schools to take up the fight against the tyrannical government that murdered their parents fifteen years earlier.


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In a gripping dystopian novel, four teenagers risk impossible odds to fight against tyranny in a world of dangerous choices -- and reemerging hope.

Escape. Milena, Bartolomeo, Helen, and Milos have left their prison-like boarding schools far behind, but their futures remain in peril. Fleeing across icy mountains from a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to hunt them down, they are determined to take up the fight against the despotic government that murdered their parents years before. Only three will make it safely to the secret headquarters of the resistance movement. The fourth is captured and forced to participate in a barbaric game for the amusement of the masses -- further proof of the government's horrible brutality. Will the power of one voice be enough to rouse a people against a generation of cruelty? Translated from the French, this suspenseful story of courage, individualism, and freedom has resonated with young readers across the globe.

Author Notes

Jean-Claude Mourlevat once wrote and directed burlesque shows for adults and children, which were performed for more than ten years in France and elsewhere. The author of several children's books, he lives in a house overhanging the River Loire, near Saint-Etienne, France.

Anthea Bell is an award-winning translator of French and German fiction, including the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. She lives near Cambridge, England.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-In a dystopian world, an oppressive revolutionary group has taken over. Four teenagers escape the "boarding school" where they have been held since their parents were murdered 15 years earlier for being part of the Resistance. Milena and Bartolomeo become romantically involved and run away together, as do Helen and Milos, separate from the other two. Ultimately, Helen, Milena, and Bartolomeo are reunited in the capital city where they find work at a restaurant doubling as a front for the Resistance movement. However, Milos is imprisoned and sent to a training camp from which he will be forced to compete in one-on-one, barbaric arena fights to the death. As a translation from the French, this book is successful, with only occasional minor awkward moments that do not detract from the story's compelling setting, mood, and tone. Most characters are adequately drawn but some disappear and never return. For example, fierce dog-men are carefully introduced, kill a man, run off to the mountains, and vanish. Also, a few circumstances stretch belief, such as the teens riding buses without being recaptured. Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009, both Scholastic) and John Marsden's "Tomorrow" series (Houghton) are stronger books.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mourlevat (The Pull of the Ocean) tells a riveting dystopian tale set in an unnamed country. Life is grim and austere for the children of resistors, whose parents lost their lives during a bloody revolution. They reside in prisonlike boarding schools and are allowed to leave the grounds only a few hours a year to be comforted by their consolers, parent figures assigned to be their counselors. When teenagers Milena, Helen, Bartolomeo and Milos run away from their neighboring schools, they not only put themselves in danger but also threaten the safety of classmates, who incur punishments in their place, and their consolers, who aid in their escape. Tracing the tense cat-and-mouse chase between the young fugitives and the vicious authorities (who track them with man-dog hybrids), the story unveils secrets about characters' histories and the bonds that tie them together. Teeming with heroic acts, heartbreaking instances of sacrifice and intriguing characters-such as the horse-men, a tribe of gentle giants willing to fight to the death for their masters-the book will keep readers absorbed and set imaginations spinning. Ages 14-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Growing up in a dystopian society reminiscent of mid-20th-century Europe, four teens move from darkness and despair to light and hope as they pursue freedom. Best friends in their repressive boarding school, 17-year-old Helen and Milena bond instantly with Milos and Bart from the neighboring boys' school. Together Milena and Bart escape, tracked by dog-men trained to kill. When they discover their parents were assassinated as Resistance leaders 15 years earlier during the Phalange's brutal coup d'tat, Milena and Bart vow to return and fight rather than flee. Finding refuge in the resurging Resistance, Milena inspires all with her beautiful voice while Bart rallies horse-men as allies. After Milos is held captive in a gladiator training camp, Helen joins the heroic uprising hoping to find him before it's too late. With its ironic twists and moral dilemmas, the action-packed plot darts from one protagonist to another with compelling urgency. Bell's fluid translation captures the peril, power and pathos of this truly epic drama in which four young heroes taste love, camaraderie, grief and triumph. Bravo! (Fantasy. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In this timeless, dystopian tale of hope in dark times, four teenagers seek freedom from an oppressive society as well as the truth about their parents' mysterious deaths. Helen, Milena, Milos, and Bartolomeo are all students at gender-segregated boarding schools established by the repressive Phalange government. After Milena and Bart secretly escape, Helen and Milos set out to find them, a search that they hope will bring them in contact with the still-active, underground resistance movement. The teens' dangerous journeys bring terrifying enemies, unexpected allies, heartbreaking tragedy, and a discovery of both the elemental strength of the human voice and the resiliency of the human spirit. In his first novel for adolescents, French children's book author Mourlevat deftly blends fantasy, realism, and moments of violence as he explores broad themes of freedom, repression, and redemption. Translator Bell's visually evocative prose alternates third-person viewpoints among the diverse cast of engaging, sometimes fantastical characters, whose compelling personal stories skillfully build to a dramatic conclusion. An award winner in France, where it was first published, this absorbing, fablelike story celebrates the infinite power of love and courage to inspire others, build a community, and make a difference.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2010 Booklist

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