After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum
HarperTeen, 336 pages
Expected US Release Date: May 6, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
"I have no idea what is truth and what is fiction. I'm all I've got now. I can't trust anyone."
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.
Life is easier in black and white. It’s the ambiguity of a world defined in grays that has stripped me of my confidence and left me powerless.
I was definitely intrigued by this book when I first heard about it. I mean, how would you feel growing up thinking you were the next generation after the apocalypse, living this basic, rudimentary life…and then find out it’s all a lie? That everything you were told about the past was actually alive and thriving? That’s a fantastic concept, with so many possibilities.
After the End definitely took a different turn than I thought it would, but I thought it held up to its potential really well. I’m slightly disappointed by it, but there are some really great facets to this book that make it completely worthwhile to read.
Miles turned out to be one of the most surprising elements in this story to me—not because he was shockingly original or took a weird turn, it’s just the idea behind why he and Juneau are on this trip together was so out of the realm I thought it would be. I don’t really want to spoil it, but his circumstance was so outside ‘apocolyptic’ that it was really startling to switch back and forth. It’s almost the opposite, in a weird way, and I felt like I had to adjust my head each time a little peek of his life came through.
That said, I really liked Miles and Juneau together. Some of it felt forced, and I don’t think they have the best chemistry—but I like them together. They’re solid, and upfront, and I kind of loved every moment when he had to teach her something about the modern world.
There was a delicious amount of anticipation and despair all throughout this book, and it made it a real page-turner. I needed to know where Juneau’s clan was, I was dying to find out where they’d gone, would they get caught, when they’re separated what does it mean?! There were so many great moments where I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, whether I was scared for one of the characters or hopeful or anticipating something, and I really loved that part.
I can’t quite pinpoint why I was disappointed, though. As breathtaking as some of the scenes were, there was a distinct lack of excitement for me as I was reading this. I’m not sure I really liked the flow and pacing, though I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with it. Maybe it was just my mood the few days I was reading it, but I definitely felt like this was missing something.
My unease may have been because of Juneau; I’m not really sure I like her, to be honest. She’s a good character, and everything she is and does and believes in aligns with what she is set up to be. But I just felt like she was a little flat, a little too one-sided and one-dimensional. I wanted her to step up or step out a little, and it never really happened for me.
But something that I was utterly in love with was the creativity put into this book. I loved the situation, how we learn the clan came to be, the circumstances they’re all finding themselves in, watching Juneau discover all these things of the modern world. I love the Yara and that faith, the readings and connections to nature and the world. There’s so much thought and storytelling in After the End, and it’s utterly magical.
I can’t deny that there are some parts of After the End that let me down, but how much I loved the rest of this book make it easy for me to let the others slide. I can’t wait for Book 2, to learn more about this world and how Juneau and Miles will intertwine.