The Blue Book of Nebo

The Blue Book of Nebo

By Author / Illustrator

Manon Steffan Ros


Family & Home


Firefly Press Ltd




Paperback / softback




Dylan was six when The End came, back in 2018; when the electricity went off for good, and the 'normal' 21st century world he knew disappeared. Now he's 14 and he and his mam have survived in their isolated hilltop house above the village of Nebo in north-west Wales, learning new skills, and returning to old ways of living.

Despite their close understanding, the relationship between mother and son changes subtly as Dylan must take on adult responsibilities. And they each have their own secrets, which emerge as, in turn, they jot down their thoughts and memories in a found notebook - the Blue Book of Nebo.

In this prize-winning novel, Manon Steffan Ros not only explores the human capacity to find new strengths when faced with the need to survive, but also questions the structures and norms of the contemporary world.



The beginning of The Blue Book of Nebo starts at The End as we are transported to a post-apocalyptic remote hilltop home above the village of Nebo in north-west Wales. From the outset, we are unsure what The End is, but we are aware that something terrible has happened. Life as we know it has been forcibly and brutally ended. All we know is that in 2018, the electricity went off for good and people began to get sick; very few people have survived.

We find our main protagonists isolated, alone and learning to survive in this unsettling new era. Set in the very near future, we find a small family in the hilltop house, including Dylan, a 14-year-old boy, his mother Rowenna and his infant sister Mona, who are the only survivors for miles around. Although only a small family, they have adapted and are surviving. They have learnt new skills and are learning to live and hunt from the land.

Rowenna is resourceful and has protected and nurtured her family since The End began. Dylan was only six when it happened and now aged 14, we find him a responsible, capable young adult. However, despite relying on, and only having each other, the relationship between mother and son subtly changes as Dylan must take on more adult responsibilities.

Dylan is an avid reader and Rowenna has always encouraged him with his reading and writing. As they try to navigate this new era and Dylan's adolescence, they find a notebook and name it The Blue Book of Nebo. As Dylan suggests, the book enables them to both tell 'our truth in different ways'. In it, they take turns to jot down their thoughts, feelings and memories. Whilst the book is being written, their darkest secrets begin to gradually emerge, too. Through the dual narrators, we begin to understand Rowenna's thoughts, worries and feelings alongside that of her son's. Dylan is trying to comprehend what his future will hold as he tries to understand why his body and thoughts are changing. Skilfully and beautifully written, we begin to see how this small family has survived. What also emerges are the secrets that they have had to keep from each other.

Through Manon Steffan Ros's writing, the relationship between mother and son is tangible and so beautifully brought to life. The book is sad and tragic in parts but it is also uplifting and hopeful. Mannon Steffan Ros's The Blue Book of Nebo has been adapted from Welsh into English and, in my opinion, is not only one of the best books that I have read in translation, but it is also one of the best crossover novels that I have read in a very long time. It will appeal to young adult readers and adult readers alike. It is a triumph of a novella, I read it in one sitting I found it so compelling. 

160 pages / Reviewed by Julie Broadbent, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+