Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: After the End

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.  Quoted from Goodreads


I enjoyed Amy Plum's Die for Me series, so when I saw she was writing a new book, it went straight on my to-read list.  The one downside to this was I never actually read the little blurb accompanying it.  I looked at the title, the barren cover with a city in the distance, and thought I knew what this book was about.   I was 90% wrong.

This isn't a post-apocalyptic survival story or even a dystopian one (though those are on the outs, so I didn't really expect that), though Juneau thinks that's her life.  No, it's much more a journey to uncover the truth after a lifetime of being lied to while, at the same time, avoiding people who want to capture her just like they did the rest of her village. What the blurb doesn't tell you is it's dual POV, so only half the story is Juneau's.  The rest belongs to Miles, and while his path joins hers pretty quickly, his half the story is, for the most part, pretty different.

I'm not sure how I feel about the dual POV.  I really liked Juneau as a character.  She's different, independent, responsible, smart, and very determined.  With her we get the whole fish-out-of-water with a mystical twist that makes her a superb character.  Miles, on the other hand, is your typical misunderstood rich boy, and honestly, his story is a lot less exciting.  Sure, it's fun to see exactly how odd Juneau is from another person's perspective and I liked knowing exactly why Miles was with her, but half of his chapters (especially the first half) could have easily been taken out.  The good news is he looks to become a much more interesting character in the second book and I really did appreciate his growth.

There's a lot of betrayal (which I love) and manipulation to keep the plot moving.  We also get a bunch of separate groups looking for Juneau, so there are different sorts of threats for them to watch out for, especially right at the beginning and the very end, but a lot of this book is a semi-mystical road trip/mystery.  The magic/science in this book is also really interesting.  I enjoyed the juxtaposition of   the two different elements and how both work together to form Juneau's world.

As for the romance, I appreciate the lack of insta-love, though I still felt like the characters grew close a little too fast.  I'm going to be vague to avoid spoilers, but I liked how Juneau put finding her family before Miles and how Miles reacted when she did something a little too off the wall/creepy.  It made their relationship more realistic, and while that may have made it less "romantic," it made the characters ring more true.

All in all this was an enjoyable read, despite the fact that it really wasn't what I was expecting at all.  It ended up being very 2014, and while this could have hurt the book, I actually really liked it.  I enjoyed the mystery and the lies that tore Juneau's world apart, and despite this, she's still determined to find her family and the father that deceived her.  This is a solid 3.5 stars for me. It was an interesting beginning to a new adventure, and based off her previous series, I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes next.

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