The novel's main characters, sisters Nanna and Fride, have lived in a hidden bunker with their father for many years following a great catastrophe. Everyone is dead and nature has withered away.
When the girls one day dare to go out into the world without their father knowing, he catches the same mysterious illness that caused the catastrophe to begin with. With haste the girls have to leave to find medicine if their father is to have any hope of survival. They must travel to the city they lived in prior to the catastrophe – the very same city that their mother chose to stay in to work as a doctor in one last attempt to help the sick, desperate and dying people.
In spite of the gloomy scenario, Høsten is first and foremost a tale of life and love. A classic and timeless young person's novel.
‘Jan Henrik Nielsen’s debut novel is a thrilling read that is equally well-suited to older children, young people and adults… Nielsen writes with driving force and avoids complex language. The book is an easy read, which makes it very well suited to adolescent readers. It is both exhilarating and thought provoking. Things we consider obvious are viewed from a new and unfamiliar perspective.’
‘… a gripping tale that will hit home among young readers.’
‘Nielsen writes credibly about how fatal boredom and fear of the outside world vie with one another to form the overriding experience of the main characters… Nielsen portrays with warmth and charm the wide-eyed wonder possessed in particular by Fride… In fact, it is the sisters’ powers of observation that allow The Autumn to become something more than simply the depiction of a catastrophe. Fride’s encounter with everything that she has never seen before reminds the reader of the remarkable things that surround us and which we take for granted on a daily basis… The sisters’ care for and dependence upon one another is also sensitively depicted… a young reader is likely to greatly enjoy the presence of a strong heroine she can identify with. The Autumn is, without doubt, a chilling book. The author distributes the scares cleverly throughout the text, varying between concrete dangers, such as snapping animals, and more existential terrors – the anxiety related to one day being alone, or perhaps already being it.’
‘A strong debut novel about two young sisters forced to cope all alone following The Great Catastrophe… This is not primarily the account of a civilisation that has crumbled – it is the story of a world re-born and observed through the eyes of the children. It may sound sentimental, but thanks to Nielsen’s sober use of language and secure and loving grip on the girls’ everyday existence, it does not come across as such… more than anything, this is a sensationally good, exciting and thought-provoking debut that is easy to recommend. I hope many readers enjoy the book, and look forward to reading more from Jan Henrik Nielsen.’
‘Rather than create a more grotesque – and possibly truthful – version of events, Nielsen’s debut demonstrates an art within his writing, evidenced through his ability to view the world through the eyes of a child.’
‘The book takes young readers seriously… it is precisely this type of literature that young adults want more of… There are tears and a sense of acknowledgement of the gravity of life: separation, loss and death. There is courage and hope, and an open ending, where things can happen.’
‘Fantastic, thrilling, hopeful and thought provoking reading that adults can also enjoy this autumn.’
‘A chilling yet warm novel from a debut author.’
‘I loved the book; there was a little bit of everything! It was exciting, a little bit scary and full of hope and love. I read the whole book in one day! I just couldn’t put it down. The book is easy to read and you are captivated by the way the author writes; there’s always something happening to make you turn the page and see what happens next. All in all, it was a fantastic book. I loved it!!’
Ina Marie Eide Knutsen, 10th grade, Vesterålen Online
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