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This was written by my literature circles group. Possibly one of the most crappy novels, and all in all we did not like it. So, enjoy...

Submitted:Mar 11, 2010    Reads: 183    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

Despite its name, despite its cover, and despite the fact you either love it or you hate it, The Snow Pony will ensure every reader an adventure that will surely surprise. This adventure novel published in 2001 by Alison Lester, famous for her bestseller 'The Quicksand Pony', tells the story of young Dusty and her amazingly powerful connection with the wildest of horses, The Snow Pony. This novel is aimed at a young adult audience, regardless of its somewhat whimsical and youthful -looking cover.
'Her parents would kill her if they knew what she was doing. A voice in her head was saying they were right, it was a stupid idea, a childish fantasy that she could ride a horse that had defeated her father. But another voice, a louder voice, said that she could do it, that the Snow Pony trusted her, would do anything for her.'
Throughout this novel, Dusty had a strength that was evident even in the toughest of times. She always believed in herself. The focus of 'The Snow Pony' is Dusty Riley, a tough farm girl who loves everything about her country home. She has a strong connection to a wild brumby horse her father caught for her, and The Snow Pony is extremely important to her and the story. Although the author tells us about how physically and even mentally strong Dusty is, she is more of a cut-out or an outline than an actual character with skin, feeling, fears and personality. We do not discover what we believe builds a main character in Dusty, as opposed to many other stronger characters in the novel.
'Somebody picked up at the other end, and her father cleared his throat. 'Is that the Drug and Alcohol Help Line? My name is Jack Riley. I'm after some help.'
The Snow Pony explores many mature themes that from the beginning of the novel, do not seem could be included in a book so juvenile. The drought is one of the biggest problems affecting Australian farmers, and they mimic this issue in the story. It influences the Riley's home, their town and their family, bringing more important issues to the tale. The Riley's rely on the produce from their farm, and the drought reduces this significantly pressuring Jack financially. There are some slightly inappropriate or mature scenes in the novel that is believed do not match the 'The Snow Pony'. The fact that much of the book is a slightly droll account of how much Dusty appreciates the pony and the other half is hard-hitting issues which are sometimes overly melodramatic is the main reason for our dislike of it.
Travis. My brother. He was the drunk one. God, I hate what grog does to people."
Dusty nodded. "Me too." Dusty knew exactly what her new friend meant.
A large part of the moral education in this book is over anti-alcoholism; both the characters of Dusty and Jade have had family issues related to alcohol. Dusty's father, Jack, upon no longer being the family bread-winner and having the drought ravage his career and relationships, he turns to liquor, which then leads him to arguing with Rita and the children. Soon after apologising to the family, Jack resorts to an alcohol helpline. Jade's family is noticeably more rural with a family history of unemployment and drunked-ness, but it still comes as a shock to the reader to find some of the things her brother's friends are willing to do in front of a young girl, including groping her and mutilating a kangaroo. This is presumably fuelled by alcohol, and Jade's brother, Travis, is prevented from protecting her because he is unconscious. It's easy to tell what made him unconscious in the first place…
These scenes of liquor-induced chaos are included in the book to show readers of how the drought affects people's psyche and views of each other. It also, in a way, informs children of the sins of alcohol, and how to cope as well as Dusty did in the book.
Another of the morals is, obviously (and a little stereotypically) the value of "always trusting in yourself". This is illustrated throughout the novel from almost all character's points of view; Dusty, with her perseverance to own the Snow Pony, Jade, with her country-girl grit and endurance skills, and Jack, who keeps himself in a calm state of mind even though he is trapped in a frosty cabin far from civilization. Our group felt that this particular stereotype was far from subtle and overly demonstrated. Even if the book was written impeccably, which it is not by any measure, the unoriginality of the values and morals in this book are unimpressive and even a little detestable.
The setting is perhaps the highlight of this novel. It brings every triumph and tribulation back to the story and gives an earthy, farm like flavour to each chapter. Each passage reminds you of where you are and is very, very descriptive, almost too descriptive. It sometimes portrayed the feeling that Lester didn't know what else to write about, apart from the country-side.
The writing style in this book is the combination of overly Australian phrases, dull sentences and sometimes overly erotically-charged passages that make the writing style so unbearable. Many simple sentences are exaggerated and certain phrases seem as if they are only there to fill in the blanks. Lester's attempts at injecting authentic Australian-outback style language into this story result in clichéd phrases destroying any originality that, bluntly, does not impress.
The Snow Pony is a slightly confusing and mismatched novel, which is not suited to many who are not horse fans. However, many life lessons were portrayed and Lester did leave us with some memorable events. Although the book seemed like an easy-enough (and enjoyable-looking) read, our group was sorely disappointed at the lack of writing skill and weak plot and characters. We believe many changes could have benefited the novel, it was uninspiring and all in all we rate The Snow Pony 4 stars out of 10.


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