Like the famous Soviet science fiction brothers, the story told is science-fiction and at the same time very earthly. Asking many unanswered questions. (In fact, the author is a modern Russian writer).
The narrative begins suddenly, the reader is not introduced to the situation, he has to figure out on his own what this “northern circle” is in which he finds himself.
A teenager named Dean lives with his parents in a world that apparently has experienced some kind of catastrophe - whether environmental or nuclear, it is not clear, but before, life in this place was similar to ours. However, the heroes of the book no longer saw this; only fragmentary information about former times remained. And now people need to survive in the snow. This is not just a cold northern climate and permafrost - the snow here is dotted with bright veins of unknown origin. Whether it is acid, or lava, or something else, they are deadly for all living things. Most of the adult population is employed in vein removal work, and children are taught this craft at school.
In this post-apocalyptic world there are almost no plants, with the exception of the winter forest in a state of suspended animation and those rarities like carrots that are grown in the greenhouse. Of the entire animal kingdom, there remains only one species of beetle, capable of existing only in close proximity to its native tree. People cherish these unique beetles like the apple of their eye; they even have a shepherd assigned to them, who takes care of his insect flock in a fatherly way. People are better adapted to life in harsh conditions, they have warm homes, chemical food and social connections. But the human race is devastated by a depriving disease with unpredictable consequences: some, having suffered it, go blind, others go crazy, others lose the ability to move; There is no treatment, the disease is contagious, so those who become ill immediately become outcasts. However, there is an ancient belief in the air that a person can be saved by making a living sacrifice. The main character of the book, teenager Dean, is faced with a choice: try to cure a little girl by killing another creature, or leave everything as it is and at the same time lose his only friend, the girl’s brother, who urgently demands Dean’s help.
This is not a cruel book, without stress and tragedy, it can be read by impressionable teenagers, nevertheless, it poses complex, emotionally difficult questions: is it possible to sacrifice one living being in order to save another? Are there more and less valuable lives? Where is the line between those creatures that need to be sacredly protected and those that can easily be wasted? Does it make sense to sacrifice anything meaningful for a very ephemeral chance of success? There are many questions here, but not a single answer - a huge scope opens up for the reader to think about the eternal, Raskolnikov dilemmas.
And another very important point that is worth focusing the attention of any teenager: do as you see fit, or listen to another person whose opinion is contrary to yours, but. Is that what he insists on? You have to live with the consequences of any decision - it’s one thing if you made it yourself, albeit mistakenly. What if the choice turned out to be not only wrong, but also it was never truly yours? Someone made it for you, imposed it on you, and you followed the lead?