After the End
Author: Amy Plum
Release: May 6th 2014
Genre: Dystopia, Urban Fantasy, YA
#1 in the After the End series
Sequels: Until The Beginning (#2)
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.
No way. Are you kidding me? What? What?!
I read Amy Plum's Die For Me back in 2012, and I really couldn't stand it. The romance was insta-love extraordinaire, the characters were flatter than a board and the overall plot had lots of holes in it. I can tell that in the years leading up from that book up to this one, she has gotten tons better as an author, and I'm really happy for her, as well as for me, since, you know, now I can finally appreciate her. So, it's win-win for both of us.
Initially, I wasn't going to pick up After the End, simply because I did not believe that Plum would be able to do such a one-eighty and actually write a book that I'd really enjoy after the catastrophe that was her Die For Me. However, it has gotten so many good reviews, which I now understand why, and I thought it did sound pretty awesome from the blurb and all. And boy, let me tell you, I'm really glad that I did pick it up.
What really hit me like a punch to the gut was the character development and, most of all, their relationship. It gradually evolves into the romance, and while I do think that that one first kiss was a little abrupt and too sudden, overall, the romance was so nicely done I honestly have trouble grasping the fact that this is the same woman who came up with Kate and Vincent's romance. Back then, they were already head over heels by page 100, and with this, romantic feelings don't even ever really come into question well after page 200 and I loved it. It wasn't exactly Aria and Perry perfection, but close.
Which reminds me, just a few weeks ago I was wondering why it's always the boy that comes from the uncivilized, wildling camp and why it's always the girl that's the modern, new age one. You know, aside from Jon and Ygritte from A Song of Ice and Fire, I've never seen the roles switched before, so having that for once was also a very nice reprieve from the usual stereotypes.
As for character development, it's not that drastic, I wouldn't say that Miles and Juneau are two completely different people at the end than they were at the beginning, but I would definitely say that they have changed, mostly for the better, and there are some pretty heavy realizations that they are forced to draw during their journey, especially Juneau, obviously. I thought Plum did a really nice job on that, and in simply fleshing her two protagonists out in general, they were very relatable and down-to-earth in a way. And let me just mention that Juneau is an absolutely kickass heroine, I seriously haven't come across a heroine this strong in a long while, and it's another thing that truly surprised me about this new Amy Plum lady, since Kate was such a wuss back then.
As for plot, yes, it was mostly road trip-esque, which would also make this a good and easy summer read if you like that sort of thing, but it was nonetheless mostly enjoyable and nice, the banter between Miles and Juneau kept it interesting enough and while I never thought the action scenes were particularly "thrilling" or full of suspense, they were still well done and managed to make for good climaxes.
The only thing I really have to criticize is that sometimes the plot didn't really make much sense in how it was handled on the timeline. Like, there are some huge time gaps that are treated like they're nothing. See, in the beginning there is Juneau having to go on a three day trip to some kind of location, and then she's suddenly there while it seems to Miles that almost no time has passed at all, and then there were just some things that seemed like they should have taken more time, or happened too soon (like that kiss, as I previously mentioned) and it all kind of distorted and disturbed the flow of the novel for me. It didn't come together as nicely as it should, or could, have.
Anyways, aside from that though, I think the novel was excellently done, it was a nice start for a new series that I am definitely going to be following and will continue to read as soon as the sequel comes out. The ending is a cliffhanger, so if you don't like those, you have been warned; if you don't mind 'em, then you should most certainly go ahead and give this one a try.