After the End by Amy Plum
Book One of the After the End series
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I really liked Plum's Die For Me series, so I was thrilled to see that she had a new book coming out! She did a lot of hinting about her "Juneau" book while the Die For Me books were coming out, so I've been interested in this book for quite some time.
Juneau has lived her entire life in Alaska with her clan, a group of about fifty people. She is completely cut off from modern civilization. According to her clan's leader, Whit, World War III destroyed the United States, so so he and the survivors escaped to the clean, fresh world of Alaska. But when the clan disappears while Juneau is hunting, she sets out to find them. And discovers that the world is not as she thought it was. There was no World War III. No one believes in the "Yara" (kind of like the life force that binds all living things together). And people are after her.
I have mixed feelings about this book. For one, I disliked Juneau, and no, not because her ignorance. I don't want to ruin things for others, but basically, she had things all wrong. Or at least, the clan leader (and her mentor) Whit fed the clan's children lies. There is no Yara, no Conjuring, no Reading (like, psychic stuff), no weird powers or magic. Juneau had to go through many obstacles and discoveries to realize that she had been born into a sort of experiment or cult. Creepy.
I really powered through this book - something about Plum's writing style always has me reading her books very quickly. There weren't any specific times in the novel where I was overly bored or tired of reading or irritated or anything like that. I simply read the book, cover to cover, without stopping - that's rare, for me!
I already mentioned that I wasn't a huge fan of Juneau. I definitely preferred Miles to Juneau. Juneau was entirely too strange and inhuman for me. The way she bossed people around (namely, Miles), expecting him to do everything and anything for her? No. Not okay. More on that later. I liked Miles. He seems to be genuinely good person (despite the deception), with a kind heart. This book is split into two first-person narrations, alternating by chapter, between Miles and Juneau. I always preferred Miles' perspective.
The story itself is interesting, but I found it lacking a bit. I'll explain as vaguely as I can below. As I said before, I sped right through this book, so the plot wasn't boring or anything. There were many twists and turns, and I wanted to know how things shook out. The climax was a kaleidoscope of action, even if the ending was a bit predictable and cliche. I haven't decided if I want to read the sequel or not (when it comes out). If this is a duology, then I probably will. If it's a trilogy... then maybe. Maybe not.
What I Did Not Like:
I think I mentioned above that I didn't like Juneau very much, and that I found the story lacking a bit, and that the ending was cliche? I feel like there were other things that I disliked, but maybe not. I just remember being very meh about this book when finishing. Actually, I was a bit confused, and frustrated. So many not meh at all.
Juneau was annoying at best. I didn't like her bossy, self-important attitude. The entire time, she seemed very selfish and unaffected, and I did not like it. Oh, so a crazy psychic tells you that a boy will help you, so you immediately latch onto said boy, and orders him around like he is EXPECTED to do everything at your command? This isn't just at the beginning of the novel. This goes on throughout the novel, to the end, so it's not a character flaw that fades as she develops. Nope nope nope. Juneau is selfish, and the author wants it to off as naive or something. I don't buy it.
I definitely think there was something missing in this book. For the vast majority of the book, I was extremely confused as to what was happening. Heck, I'm still confused. Even as Plum was dropping hints and twists and turns left and right, I was confused - in fact, getting even MORE confused. Nothing is fully or thoroughly or even medium-ly explained in this book. I get it, there is a sequel, there is time to discover what is happening, what really happened to Juneau and the other clan children, where the clan is, what will happen with the experimentation and Miles and everything. But can we explain at least some of these things in the first book, a little bit concretely? Nothing is concrete in this book. I am not a fan of that.
The ending is so, so cliche. Oh, that reminds me that there is insta-love in this book. But the ending is cliche. OF COURSE Miles would do anything for Juneau (trying to be vague). OF COURSE. Because they are TOTALLY THERE, in their "relationship", after like, a week? Less than that? Four days, or something? REALLY?! Unbelievable. And OF COURSE the only way to fix things, at the very end, is for Juneau to do a certain thing, because OF COURSE a certain thing involving Miles happens. The ending is so cliche, so wrong.
And insta-love. I was surprised to see that Miles and Juneau felt that way towards each, so strongly, after a few days. I mean, the first two days or so, Miles was totally freaked out by Juneau, and Juneau was wary and distrusting and on full user mode. How did that progress to strong feelings of caring?! Strong enough to the point where Miles did ____ and Juneau did ____ and ugh!
Also, in the beginning of the book, did it NEVER occur to Miles that there are phones EVERYWHERE, and that Juneau would never have seen him use someone else's, or use a payphone, or use a store's phone? He could have called his dad a million times in the first day or two. But NOOOOOOO, there has to be that wild goose chase, in which Miles totes Juneau around EVERYWHERE, a complete and utterly insane stranger. Miles was doing it for his dad, but he could have called his dad to tell him where they where at ANY POINT in the first day or two. Plot hole much?
I think that sums it up. So I guess I wasn't feeling meh about this book at all!
Would I Recommend It:
If you loved Amy Plum's Die For Me series, then I couldn't convince you otherwise (to not read this book). Not that my goal is to discourage anyone from reading this book. I don't think this book is a must-read, but if you already have a copy, read it! Otherwise ehhh, it's not entirely worth your time. I would skip it, because there are plenty of better books (or better-sounding books) out there! In my opinion, of course.
2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. I think I liked this book, but I think I wanted more from it. I'll have to see about reading the sequel - if I get a review copy of some sort, then I probably will read it. It's definitely not a priority though.
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