Title: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Series: In the After
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (June 25, 2013)
Age range: 13 – 17 Years
Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:
Amy Harris’s life changed forever when They took over. Her parents—vanished. The government—obsolete. Societal structure—nonexistent. No one knows where They came from, but these vicious creatures have been rapidly devouring mankind since They appeared. With fierce survivor instincts, Amy manages to stay alive—and even rescues “Baby,” a toddler who was left behind. After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope. On the surface, it appears to be a safe haven for survivors. But there are dark and twisted secrets lurking beneath that could have Amy and Baby paying with not only their freedom . . . but also their lives.
This will be quick because once again I didn’t take notes and I read this in July, so I can’t remember much of what I would have said. In retrospect, maybe that’s a good idea, because I’ll just be commenting on the things that really stuck with me.
I really enjoyed this book. Post-apocalyptic stories have attracted me over the last few years (understandably so since my own YA novel is post-apocalyptic.) In fact, I loved pretty much everything about this book. The characters were interesting and believable. The plot was enticing and mostly full of great twists and turns. And the action was amazing! I was clutching my paperback with dread on several occasions. The only real drawback for me was the big surprise reveal towards the end and the portrayal of New Hope, but I’ll get to that later.
Probably my favorite part was how Amy, the MC, lived alone for two years. Her only companion was Baby, a toddler she saved from the wreckage of humanity. Everything about the first 146 pages was fantastic. Amy and Baby don’t talk, because talking draws the creatures. They have suppressed their deep, deep emotional issues because survival means you have to be tough. They’ve learned to survive and that means hard choices. Amy even reveals how she considered leaving Baby to fend for herself because she was afraid a noisy toddler would endanger her own life. People think that way. They aren’t always noble and good, and they don’t always make the right choices.
To be honest, I found that part interesting, because my own MC goes through a similar circumstance. She’s alone for two years, but she has imaginary friends to talk to. And when she finally comes in contact with other survivors, she doesn’t make choices that are good for others. She thinks of herself and her own survival first. So yeah, I was thrilled to read this accurate portrayal of humanity, because it bears some resemblance to mine.
In the After is split into three parts (another similarity to mine: not sure how I feel about that), and after the first part, each chapter begins with a portion of Amy’s life in the future, like four months or so. Then we switch to present (or maybe it’s the other way around), but we get glimpses of two different times in Amy’s life and they both help to explain each other. I don’t know that it was necessary to do this, but it was still interesting.
My only beef was with the New Hope dystopian society. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because women are expected to give birth every three years starting at the age of 17. Maybe because the kids are raised in dormitories. Maybe it’s because I’m a little tired of the perfect-society engineering in YA novels. I just don’t think that’s how things would be. And criticizing stuff like this is so hypocritical on my part, since my own YA post-apocalyptic has a totalitarian society. But I think the difference is two-fold. First, they aren’t my ideas, and we always like our own ideas best. 🙂 And second, perfect-societies need a perfect-society maker, which is generally some nut job who decrees that all women should give birth to one child every three years, or that love is a sickness and you need brain surgery, or being divergent is dangerous. I’m just a little tired of that. I think books like the Hunger Games have it more correct. Totalitarian societies don’t care about the intricacies of your life. Be a schlum for all they care, just as long as it doesn’t effect them. Tow the party line and all is good.
The other part that was just so-so was the big surprise dramatic reveal near the end. For me it fell a little flat. It concerns where the human-eating creatures that have destroyed humanity come from. I mean, I saw it coming a little, but it was just a little non-creative in my opinion. Especially after the author set it up to be something else. I’ll explain further in the spoiler at the bottom, but it was a ho-hum plot point to me.
Otherwise, good book. Decent writing. Loved the suspense and some of the realism in characters and life after an apocalypse. Can’t wait to read the sequel!
My review: 3.5/5 stars
***SPOILER*** Here’s where I go in detail about “the big reveal”. So the author sets it up to be aliens-invade-earth-and-eat-every-form-of-meat-in-sight. The creatures are mindless killing machines that devour anything that moves. Which of course, raised the question “How could a mindless killing machine have the mental capacity to build a spaceship, fly to earth and destroy humanity?” But I thought, maybe first wave kind of thing. As the book progressed, I had a feeling the big wigs of New Hope were going to turn out to have caused the problem. I was right, but I thought maybe the creatures were organic life-forms created in a lab experiment. Half-right. The disease was created in a lab, unintentionally, people infected and turn into creatures, and then they escaped. Once they bite somebody, they infect them, creating more mindless killing machines. So basically, the “z-word”. There’s enough zombie books, zombie movies, zombie video games, that I’m pretty much over the “z-word”. Give me something a little more creative. And here’s another issue with the story, but really all zombie stories in general. You only turn into a zombie (or creature in this book) if you are bitten and you get away! Otherwise, zombies or creatures or whatever flesh eater is going to eat you! So why are there always so many zombies, and in this case, creatures, running around? Wouldn’t most of them get eaten? Sorry just a little zombie-issue I have. And if I see one more child/baby zombie I’m going to scream! Logically, if a zombie bites a baby or small child, said child is not going to be strong enough to run away or fight them off. Zombie will eat the child! There will be no zombie children. Or at least not very many. *whew* Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. So that’s my rant. Wasn’t thrilled with the idea that people became mindless killers because they’re infected. A zombie by any other name is still pretty rank and foul . . . ***SPOLIER OVER***