Written by: Demitria Lunetta
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: June 25th 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Source: ARC from ALAMW 2013
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you... until you are dead.
Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape - and even rescue "Baby," a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy's house, the girls do everything they can to survive - and avoid Them at all costs.
After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she'll lose Baby - and much more.
Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.
Yes, we’ve seen this before: another story where the world has been invaded by hostile aliens/creatures and the population all but wiped out, with a few colonies or lone survivors fighting to keep humanity alive. I feel like I’ve read quite a few of these lately – most notably Icons (which did not work for me) and The 5th Wave (one of my favorite releases this year)… Thankfully, In the After totally worked for me – it stands out and puts a unique spin on things in a number of ways.
In Part One of In the After (part 1 of 3), we follow the survival of a teenage girl, Amy, a few years after some kind of alien creature has basically destroyed civilization. At first I definitely got the feeling that these creatures aren’t terrestrial in origin. And they are pretty interesting – they only come out during the day, and their hearing (not their eyesight) is off the charts. But they don’t seem intelligent, they’re more like mindless monsters and a little zombie-like. So I was a little confused at first how they could’ve gotten to earth and successfully taken over so quickly. No spoilers, but all is not as it seems.
Anyway, Amy was incredibly lucky when disaster struck and the creatures attacked, because she was in her home, which happened to run on solar power and was surrounded by an electric fence, which made her self-sufficient for a time and kept her safe from the creatures who couldn’t get past the fence. Maybe a little too lucky – but setting aside the happy coincidence that landed her in possibly one of the safest places on the planet, her life “in the after” is by no means easy. The creatures only really come out during the day, and they have incredible hearing, so when Amy runs out of food and has to venture outside, she learns to only leave her house after dark, and to be absolutely silent everywhere she goes. This created a very eerie picture of the world, the silent dark being the only semi-safe place from the vicious creatures.
After living alone for some time, Amy finds a toddler (whom she calls “Baby”) in an abandoned supermarket. It’s clear right away that there’s something special about her – she understands the need for quiet, and her instincts are incredibly sharp for such a young child. So Amy decides to take Baby back with her to her home, and together the two become like sisters in this new, bleak world. As Baby gets older, she and Amy invent a silent sign-language that they use to communicate, sometimes by sight and sometimes by feel, signing into each others’ hands. This is something else I loved about Part One – Amy and Baby are fantastic characters and I loved watching their relationship develop.
Part Two and most of Part Three are where things went a little downhill for me. Amy and Baby are found and taken to New Hope, a compound where a large number of survivors are living and trying to rebuild a small bubble of civilization. Right away, it’s clear that not everything at New Hope is as great as it first appears, and things turn from a post-apocalyptic survival story to more of a dystopia. New Hope also introduces a lot of additional characters, and I felt like these characters weren’t nearly as well-developed as Amy and Baby. Maybe this is understandable, since we do spend the first third of the book just getting to know those two. But the characters in New Hope feel like ones I’ve seen before, and a bit one-dimensional, including the boy Amy ends up liking. So that was disappointing after Amy and Baby were developed so well. However, there were a couple other great characters, including Kay, who is the head of the Guardians – basically the protectors of New Hope. Amy ends up spending quite a bit of time with Kay, and I really grew to like her.
Part Two also slows the plot down a lot. It jumps back and forth between where we left off in Part One, and into events that start a few month in the future – these time-jumps happen throughout Parts Two and Three, and I found this method to be a little awkward. What we get is a three-part story, with the first told normally, and the (chronological) second and third parts interwoven so you’re jumping between them for actual Parts Two and Three. Maybe it was done this way to make sure the middle didn’t drag as much (the chronologically-middle section of the book wasn’t as exciting, for sure). That being said, it was really cool in the last few chapters to have both of the timelines’ resolutions all coming to a head at the end, and certainly made for an exciting ending.
All in all, I really enjoyed In the After. The best parts, for me, were Amy and Baby, and their friendship and survival story in Part One. But even though the middle was a little awkward with the time-jumps and so-so characters, the ending totally paid off with twists and turns that, while I sort of saw them coming, made for an exciting conclusion anyway. I would definitely recommend In the After to anyone who enjoys alien-invasion or “zombie books” (I’m not a zombie-book fan, but I think there are elements here that would appeal to those who are). And of course, anyone who enjoys a good post-apocalyptic, dystopian survival story. I’ll be excited to see what happens in the sequel!
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