Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: After the End by Amy Plum

Title: After the End
Author: Amy Plum
Series: After the End, Book One
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 6 May 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

"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. (summary from Goodreads)

A little dystopian, a little fantasy, After the End stands out.

Plum's story is definitely something original. I really liked the world she created. The ideas of the Gaia Movement, the Yara, the fake WWIII to mislead Juneau's clan - it's unique and quite cool. Plum has made it believable, which is what I enjoyed the most. I never felt like I had to suspend my disbelief to go along with it all. I found it really interesting how Plum grounded her fictional world in reality. It's imaginative how she expanded on things that are well known to create something new and great. I'm most impressed by Juneau and her people's connection to what they call the Yara. It's something very magical and yet at the same time somewhat scientific. Questions about the Yara, the how and why of this power Juneau's clan taps into, drives the narrative of After the End. It keeps things captivating, and added to it Plum keeps the action high. Alternating between Juneau and Miles's points of view, After the End is incredibly fast paced. I was surprised just how quickly I finished this novel. It's not so much that you can't put it down though, but that it's finished before you know it. With a whopper of a cliffhanger, fair warning, you'll want to get your hands on it's sequel, Until the Beginning, as soon as possible.

Despite all of this though, I had one major problem with After the End. I had trouble connecting. I liked Plum's characters but I just didn't find myself as invested in them as I should have been. Juneau is quite kickass. I loved how when faced with the modern world, and though completely out of her element, Juneau's skills and strengths were more than enough. I'm much like Miles and in awe of all Juneau could accomplish, even without the benefit of the Yara. It's certainly an interesting and current commentary on society, one that is genuine and thoughtful without being preachy. Miles I had to warm up to, but I'm sure that's the point. Still, it was Miles I had the most problem connecting with. I enjoyed his point of view and I was glad he had his own narration but I just couldn't help feeling something was missing. It was the same with Juneau too. She's lost her clan, is on the run, but I wasn't always feeling it. As I said, After the End is seriously fast paced, and I wonder if it was too fast? With so much happening so quickly, maybe some emotional impact was rushed? I question rather than state that though, as honestly, I'm truly unsure exactly what it is that caused my lack of connection. I feel the same way about Plum's villains, Whit and Mr Blackwell. They definitely have that bad guy aura, slightly psychotic and creepy, yet still I was unmoved by them also. They kind of fell flat for me, to be honest. They felt generic despite the uniqueness of After the End's narrative.

After the End is something quite familiar and a little different all at once. A quick and enjoyable read.

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