The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros

This short novel has captured by breath and is holding my heart hostage. So deceptively simple, it is poignant, shocking and haunting. It tells the tale of teenager Dylan, who lives with his mother Rowenna in a small cottage in rural Wales. This is their notebook, chronicling what happened at the End, from the rumours, to the electricity going off, to the nuclear powerplant in Anglesey exploding – and what comes after. Both mother and son have secrets which they confess in their Blue Book of Nebo, creating a realistic and moving family dynamic. It is often shocking, in a muted, numb way that accentuates the power of the story; it made me cry several times. But it is also ultimately hopeful. For such a dark story, I found that I didn’t want to leave Dylan and Rowenna’s world, that I wanted to stay with them, to see what they did next. A disturbing tale, but one that also shows the dignity, silent strength and resilience of the human spirit. I remain forever haunted by such young adult tales as Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence, Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien, and Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells, and The Blue Book of Nebo will deservedly be joining that canon of nuclear horror. It’s a stunning elegy to our possible futures and I got simply lost in the sheer disturbing beauty of it.

Firefly, 2022, ISBN 9781913102784

Published by Jo

Writer, Editor, Librarian

4 thoughts on “The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros

  1. I have read the original Welsh language version of this book ‘Llyfr glas Nebo’ four times and will no doubt be returning to it several times more.It undoubtedly left a deeper mark on me than any other.It is lovely to see that it has been translated successfully to other languages.The original was published just before the Covid lockdown and it really felt then that its contents were becoming eerily true.

    1. I only wish I could speak and read Welsh, I’m sure this book was pure poetry to read in its original language! It’s moved me very deeply. Thank you for your comment Enid x

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