By: Alexandra Sirowy
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 2, 2016
Genre: YA horror
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher
This book was not for me.
For me, it was predictable. I saw what was going on very early. I kept reading, hoping I would be pleasantly surprised that I was wrong. I was disappointed to find that I was right.
Too many of the characters were not likeable people, including the main character, Lana. Only two are genuinely nice people, and Lana doesn’t deserve either of these friends. This girl is mixed up with some people with whom I would not choose to spend time, and they certainly don’t help her deal with her recent trauma in productive ways.
A major problem for me as a reader is that there is a romance that I just can’t buy into. The relationship is not believable. Two people with that past would not develop a romance. Either the past relationship wasn’t genuine, or the present one isn’t- or there are psychological factors that aren’t adequately explored. It feels like the romance is there for just for shock factor. I am not opposed to shocking developments in a book, but they should be there for a reason other than sensationalism. If there was another reason in this book, I didn’t see it.
One scene that I did particularly like: Lana confronts the Queen Bee character about all of the ugliness over the years. The Queen Bee claims she gets a “pass”, and gives an excuse. There is no acceptable excuse for treating another human being like garbage, and Lana calls her on it. Good for her.
My personal philosophy on YA lit is that the (mostly) young people who are consuming the material should learn something; they should find a character that grows in ways to which they can aspire. There is little personal growth in this book; if anything, the main character mostly devolves. She has just cause, but I really wish that the moment when she finally gets it together and overcomes the situation was bigger and more dramatic. Instead of driving toward that scene as the climax, an earlier scene (with big shock value) seems to be, and this one comes off as the “it’s time to wrap up the loose ends” scene. The story arc just didn’t work for me.
I hope this book finds a readership; I would like to hear some other perspectives on it. I enjoyed Sirowy’s last book, and I would be willing to try reading her again.
Lana used to know what was real.
That was before when her life was small and quiet.
Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.
Then came after.
After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.