In the After

Monday, February 8, 2016


In the After
Demitria Lunetta, 2013

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel (actually this is both!)

Premise: Amy is one of the only survivors of the invasion. She struggles to survive and protect a little girl she finds (“Baby”), until black ships bring a series of unbelievable changes.

On paper, this has a lot of elements that I like. Survivalist narrative, alien invasion, post-apocalyptic society. But in practice, it all sort of fell apart.

Some spoilers are necessary to discuss this book, FYI.

The first section, which covers Amy and Baby's day-to-day survival and flashbacks to the apocalypse, didn’t really grab me. I didn’t connect with Amy, she felt flat and uninteresting. The story perked up when the arrival of Amber and other survivors complicated their situation, but it still never really took off for me. The ‘aliens’ were described as instant death, but weren’t often scary in any visceral way. I did like the emphasis on the way Amy uses sign language to communicate without speaking, because noise draws attacks.

Then they’re brought to the human enclave of science and military survivors, and the structure of the narrative changed. The story got more interesting, but I found the switching back and forth between the new “present” of Amy imprisoned and drugged and the path she took there didn’t work. The foreshadowing in the “present” sections decreased instead of increased tension and a lot of the “flashbacks” were too circuitous when we knew what was coming. Although on the other hand, I also wished that there had been some indication of this from the start of the book. It seemed very weird to start a fundamentally different mode of storytelling all of a sudden.

The reveal of the seemingly awesome but strictly regimented and secretly kinda-evil human settlement ran more or less on rails. Props for using the threat of forced pregnancy to push the heroine into action training, though. I bought that. There were some neat wrinkles around the creatures and the various final plot twists, but all the characters who seem off from the start are not to be trusted, and the characters who seem genuine are. Not super compelling stuff.

Finally all the reveals are revealed and we get the resolution-for-now, but I’m not going to run out and read the sequel.

I didn’t hate this, but I did find it a bit of a slog.

2 Stars - An Okay Book

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