From the publisher: Juneau grew up fearing the outside world. The elders told her that beyond the borders of their land in the Alaskan wilderness, nuclear war had destroyed everything. But when Juneau returns from a hunting trip one day and discovers her people have been abducted, she sets off to find them. And leaving the boundaries for the very first time, she learns the horrifying truth: World War III never happened. Nothing was destroyed. Everything she'd ever been taught was a lie.
In a world literally brimming with YA Distopian novels After the End by Amy Plum was delightfully refreshing. At first I was worried that it was going to be a tweak on the Skylark series by Megan Spooner, this time set in Alaska with dogs (I hate dog books). But I wound up being pleasantly surprised. What starts out as a pretty basic distopain, evolves into a mystery/thriller, then becomes more romance/urban fantasy. It's masterful story telling.
Another thing I really liked about this novel were the characters, especially their voices. Too often books for young people (and adults) don't really catch the way kids talk. They have them speaking like pubescent poets (*cough* Fault In Our Stars), odd adults (Hunger Games), or idiots (too many to reference). Amy Plum nails the voice of new and young adults. She also has the knack for making each of her characters sound very different, which is quite the trick for most writers.
Plum writes in a a sparse, simple style that is a pleasure to read. It put me in the story and let me just enjoy what was going on instead of being caught up in the confusion or beauty of her prose.
The plot is far from simple. While not as complicated as some adult novels, it's got enough twists and turns and excitement to leave the competition in the dust and make up for its few predicable plot points. The characters are well fleshed out, believable and--wait for it--LIKEABLE! I actually found myself caring about almost all of them, which is rare for me.
My one real gripe is the completely dangling ending. I like self-contained novels, ones that can stand on their own two feet and are solidly their own thing even if they're a sequel or setup for a sequel. This one is definitely only part of the story, about as far from stand-alone as one can get. For those who like a sense of completion from their reading or who don't want to start another series this is not the book to pick up. If you're looking for a fantastic and different read though I can't recommend After the End enough.
What to know: Plum isn't afraid of having her characters swear so this might not be the best book for younger readers. Sex is acknowledged as existing. Drug and alcohol abuse also exist but are not participated in by the main characters. Juneau, the main character, uses magic based on the Gaia movement of the 1970s (which I thought was very clever) but which I suppose could ruffle the feathers of the most religiously conservative. All in all, a great read in my opinion.
Liked this? Writers live and die on word of mouth so please share
or follow or join my mailing list. See the top right of this page.