Day one of the ‘2020 A-Z Reading Challenge and of course that means I am starting with the letter ‘A’. Let’s quickly revisit the rules of the challenge before we dive into today’s book. The rules of the challenge are simple: one book for twenty-six days. Every day the title of the book I read has to begin with that specific letter of the alphabet.
For the letter ‘A’, I thought I’d revisit a book series I used to absolutely love when it was released in 2014 – the After series. That’s right – the infamous movie series that almost every teen and twenty-something is obsessing over right now. I’m not sure about you but loads of my friends have absolutely fallen in love with the movies; and while I’m yet to see the movie adaptation, I thought I’d return to the original books to see how true-to-form they are. Let’s get into the review!
There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER… Life will never be the same. #Hessa
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.
But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, and tattoos, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.
But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.
He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?
Unless…could this be love?
I first want to point out then I read this book series, I was about fifteen years old and Wattpad books were my staple. I had zero experience in love, though it didn’t stop me giving advice to all my friends (
sorry Lena) and my view of relationships was naïve. Looking back on this book series now, having once been in a long, serious and healthy relationship for just under two years, I’m seriously beginning to question why I ever believed Tessa and Hardin were in love.
After is a six-hundred and eight page book. That’s about four-hundred pages too long off the bat. Unlike some stories, all those pages are not necessary to the telling of the story. I felt like a lot of the stuff that is written about in the first book is fluffy – simply there to make the story longer. I think I got to page fifty-three and was already on chapter twenty-something. While I think this was used to make you feel you’re getting through the story quickly and to hold your attention, I really found it unnecessary.
I can’t name a single character I actually liked in the story either. Tessa is boring. She’s a very plain protagonist who brings absolutely nothing to the story. Her morals are loose and when she attempts to appear as a ‘good girl’, she seems to judge everyone around her who doesn’t fit into the neat little box. Steph and Molly are not the kind of friends you want, and if I had friends like that, I would be having a serious discussion with them. They don’t have Tessa best interests at heart and I fail to see how they have ever cared about her. Hardin is abusive. I don’t care what anybody else says. A guy being rude to you, rough with you, hurting you and playing with your feelings is not hot. He is not someone you should be aspiring to start a future with. He is a red flag with a pulse. Even Noah was boring, but at least he was supposed to be boring.
This brings us onto the romance in the story. Please tell me where this is, because as I mentioned above, I’m failing to attach this to anything other than abuse. Let’s stop romanticising guys who treat girls like dirt, bully and demean them. It’s not sexy. It’s not hot. I’ve been in an abuse relationship, and the sudden changes in character are not attractive. They are scary. It is not sexy to be afraid of your partner. It is not okay to allow them to hurt your feelings. Even the romance in the beginning with Noah is subpar and dull. Why would you spend two years in a relationship without intimacy – and this does not explicitly mean sex. There is no genuine love or affection; no real attraction.
The writing style in the book screamed ‘juvenile’ for me. I understand the book began as fanfiction on Wattpad, and the author wrote it while she was incredibly young. The fact she not only has a best-selling novel series and a movie series is absolutely inspirational and I give her credit where credit is due. However, the book felt like it was written by a teen. It lacked any form of literary sophistication and just seemed a little basic. Parts of the books dragged and just felt totally thrown in for the sake of having some form of a plot. I feel like there were moments we could have done without.
I really wish I hadn’t reread After but at the same time, I’m glad. I’ll continue with the series because I want to see where it goes and whether it is redeemable. The movies, I hope, won’t be half as bad as the books. But the next time I see a six-hundred+ page romance novel, I think I’ll instantly write it off.
Remember that not everybody will have the same opinion! Something that worked for me might not work for you, and visa versa. The whole internet has an opinion, so check out a few others before you decide to dish or ditch this book!
Alexandra @ Reading By Starlight says “After is actually a dark novel, dealing with some pretty intense subject matter.”
Daniella @ Reading With Daniella says “This book is a disaster.”
Flo @ Flowless Books says “This is totally a guilty pleasure read.”
It is common that, depending on geographical location or time of publication, that one book may have several different covers. This is common across differing publishing houses. My favourite out of them all is the movie tie-in cover released alongside the first movie back in 2016.
ANNA TODD (Author/Writer/Producer) is the New York Times bestselling author of the After series of books, The Spring Girls, and the recent The Brightest Stars.
Always an avid reader, Todd began writing stories on her phone on Wattpad, the reading and writing multiplatform for original stories, with After becoming its most-read series with over 1.5 billion reads.
The print edition of After was published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster and has since been released in over 30 languages with more than 11 million copies sold worldwide. After has been a #1 bestseller across the globe including Italy, Germany, France and Spain. She has since written eight additional novels and serves as a producer and screenwriter on the upcoming film adaptation of After We Collided, the sequel to After.
Todd has been hailed by Cosmopolitan as “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation.” A native of Ohio Anna, her husband and son currently live in Los Angeles.
Another book down, another review uploaded! Can you name a book you want to know more about but can’t find on my blog? Something stuck on your TBR list? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think. All read requests are acknowledged and appreciated! Until next time guys,