After the End by Amy Plum
the first book in the After the End series
published on May 6, 2014 by HarperTeen
fantasy | science fiction |romance
She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
Someone, tell me, how unique is this premise? How often is it do you read a book about a girl who thought she lived in a postapocalyptic world only to find out that there was civilization elsewhere? This is unheard of (well, at least for me), and I was really intrigued and decided to get to this ASAP when I got the chance. And Khnah loved this one, so of course I had to give it a go. (Believe me, four stars is high praise from her.)
Let me start off by saying I was really disappointed in this one. I expected a rich world with a badass heroine, friendly guy and an interesting voice. While I did enjoy the plot and the world, everything else felt flat for me. Let’s get into that, shall we?
Our heroine is a girl named Juneau. She was brought up thinking that World War III killed off most of the human race, but some of them managed to escape into their little town in Alaska. They were raised in a more earthly manner, Reading things through the Yara, which was their connection to the earth. This was my favorite aspect of the novel–the Yara, the Readings and all those things that made the book unique. (It was like fortune telling plus reading the past plus a personal GPS and a bunch of other cool stuff!)
But then Juneau’s kidnapped and is forced to flee their village to find her clan. And she discovers that there was never a World War III. Her parents and teacher, Whit, lied to her. People are after her–particularly, people want to find out how the people in her clan never age and are immune to disease. Interesting, right?
But the characters and flat voice kind of took my interest away from the story. Juneau and Miles, our hero, were just okay characters. I never really felt a connection with them. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them, either. It was like they were just there but not there, you know? No tears. No feels. No squeals. Just some boring narration.
Wait, let’s talk more about Miles. I have so many mixed feelings about him, both good and bad, but I’m starting to think that the bad is coming out as the winner.
The pacing was my main problem with the novel. I felt like Juneau was too quick to realize and get over things. It felt unnatural how easily and quickly her steps advanced. Sure, she’s described as pretty smart, but it wasn’t just that. Even the romance felt quick and forced. One minute, they can’t stand each other and in the next they’re trying to “escape from their feelings” and all that. It disturbed me a bit, honestly.
Overall, if the characters had been better developed and the pacing had been fixed, this would’ve been a fantastic novel. I did like the action, the suspense and the twists. Although I myself didn’t enjoy this one as much as I wanted to, I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a unique postapocalyptic (maybe) read.