Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Hereafter

HEREAFTER (Hereafter #1)
Tara Hudson
Paranormal Young Adult
400 Pages
HarperCollins
Available June 7th
Received for review via NetGalley and through a tour by Teen Book Scene

THE STORY
Amelia's dead. Her death has not brought her peace however, instead she roams the area around the river in which she drowned, completely invisible and alone. She also suffers through nightmarish visions in which she relives the last moments of her life, waking up after an indeterminate amount of time to find herself in the graveyard in which she's buried.

So, when she finds herself choking and sputtering while sinking beneath the water yet again, she expects to awaken to the dry grass of the graveyard, only this time she's back in the river for real. And she's not alone. There's a boy about her age who's been in an accident and she knows he's dying. By some miracle, Amelia startles him back to life, and in doing so, changes her entire existence.

Joshua, the boy she saved, can see her. He talks to her, touches her, and she can actually feel again. After being alone for quite some time, Amelia's life is suddenly bustling with social activity when Eli, a spirit himself, makes his presence known shortly after her rescue of Joshua. He has the answers she's looking for about her life and death, as Amelia herself cannot remember anything except quick flashes here and there, but what he expects in return for his knowledge may be more than Amelia has left to give.

MY THOUGHTS
Hereafter is a story that drops us right into the action, introducing us to Amelia significantly after her death and well into her afterlife, thereby creating an instant curiosity about her past as we hit the ground running in the present. Normally, the lack of history and a certain haziness regarding the specifics of Amelia's ghostly existence would be somewhat frustrating, but because Amelia herself shares in our uncertainty, we are able to bond with her as we uncover bits and pieces about her life before and after her drowning together. Instead of being alone in the dark scrambling for purchase, we are provided the comforting presence of both Amelia and Joshua, friends to us in fiction, whom we gladly let navigate our way through the Hereafter as we learn about the past, embrace the present, and eagerly anticipate the future. Ms. Hudson has written a well-rounded story where a sweet, believable romance is beautifully interwoven with all the mysterious elements that surround the idea of life after death.

Amelia is a likeable character from her very introduction, the terror of her nightmares instantly connecting us with her as we share her memories of sinking beneath the dark water, wanting to reach through the pages and soothe her with our presence so she knows she doesn't have to face her demise alone yet again. She possesses a wry sense of humor, joking with Joshua about her current spectral predicament and earning our respect as she faces so many unknowns with a good attitude, never resigning herself to a fate not of her choosing. We can't help but smile at her interactions with Joshua, their conversations often permeated with that adolescent awkwardness with which we are all extremely familiar, and we laugh quietly to ourselves as we realize not even death can make those moments disappear entirely.

The relationship between Joshua and Amelia is done extraordinarily well, progressing at an incredibly satisfying pace after the intensity of their initial meeting. Their time alone is fraught with such palpable romantic tension we practically burn holes in the pages with the weight of our heated stare as we wait in bated breath for a look, a touch, or an impossible kiss. While there is an instant attraction, the draw on Amelia's side extends far beyond Joshua's pretty face–her interest one of curiosity and an underlying hope that is far more interesting and poignant than a mere undying declaration of everlasting love. With him, she goes from simply existing, hovering between worlds, to feeling as though she has a life again. His touch breaks through the unbearable numbness of her ghostly being, giving her fleeting moments of true sensation and creating for her new memories to replace the ones of a life she can no longer recall. Theirs is a relationship of impossibilities, and we read each page willing elements into place to help them conquer the seemingly insurmountable odds of their success as a couple.

There are so many unique aspects to Ms. Hudson's imaginings of the Hereafter, and she provides us with a tale where questions arise but are also blissfully answered as the colossal gaps in Amelia's memories begin to fill in. This (I think) first installment is nicely concluded, leaving us with plenty of potential for the future yet we are completely at peace with the state of affairs as they stand–a rare occurrence for the first book in a series and a trend that will hopefully continue in book two if there is one.

Rating: 4.5/5

39 comments:

  1. I had no desire to read this prior to seeing your review. I'm not a huge fan of ghost books in general, but this one is making the TBR list.

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  2. Sounds like a really promising ghost story, Jenny! I have this one from Netgalley and have to bump it up in my reading queue. Beautiful review as always. :)

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  3. Lovely MC, lovely relationship, and lovely plot. Sounds like a winner :) Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the review!

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  4. I agree, this one was very unique and can I say I absolutely ADORE the cover? I have to reread this one ... I read it right after Starcorssed and didn't get into this story so easily which is why I didn't enjoy it as much. But, I think I have to reread it again. Plus I love the cover - so so pretty!!

    (and just as I said at Melissa's Blog: I miss you, but I try not to tell you this everytime I come to your blog*giggles*)

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  5. Sounds good! I've been wondering about this one because I loved the sound of it. I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

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  6. Lovely review.
    But..I mean she is dead. How can it work? It would make me feel sad in the end I think

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  7. Great review - thanks for sharing.

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  8. I'm planning to start this one either today or tomorrow and am looking forward to reading it based on your great review. Amelia seems like a good MC and I love the sound of the romance. Oh, and yay for no cliffhangers.

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  9. I love books that start right in the action and conclude nicely. Will have to read this soon. Great review Jenny :)

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  10. I am intrigued by the ghostly romance of this. I love how you compared the readers experience with Amelia's, and love making discoveries along side the characters. I really need to read this one.

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  11. I swear your reviews move me to read books I wouldn't normally. This does sound like a really nice balanced book that delivers on all fronts. Those kinds of books are my favorite!

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  12. I've heard great things about this book. I love it when relationships progress at a good rate. And when there's lots of tension!

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  13. Tara - I just really enjoyed this one, I liked everything about Amelia:)

    Rummanah - Thanks! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:)

    Aylee - It was a winner for me! I blew through it really quickly.

    Danny - I LOVE this cover, it's gorgeous:) It's always funny to me how the books we read before a certain one influence our opinion of it:) Oh, and I MISS YOU!

    Natalie - I'm really hoping there's a book 2, I loved this one:)

    Blodeuedd - I don't know how it will work, but I'm sure it will be interesting:)

    Denise - Thanks!

    Zahida - Yes, yay for no cliffhangers! I hope you like it!

    Nic - I really liked that about this one...there was no long, drawn-out explanation, we just kind of figured things out as we went and I thought it worked really well.

    Jan - Knowing Amelia only knew as much as I did was fun, it made reading more like a partnership if that makes sense.

    Felicia - Aw, thanks! This was a fun one, nothing too heavy but also not all light and fluffy either.

    Alison - Tension is my favorite and there's lots in this one since she's transparent and can't really touch him and all:)

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  14. Fantastic review! I am now so excited to read this. Anything with romantic tension is pretty much an addicting read for me. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Great review, Jenny.

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  15. Fantastic review! I have this book from Netgalley; now I can't wait to read it. Hereafter seems like a compelling read.

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  16. I really loved the unqiue of the love in this story. I felt like there was so much to it! I loved how it was written! Nice review!

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  17. Hey, this looks good. I'm quite pumped as this author (along with some others) are coming to Phoenix for a tour! *does happy dance* It's always nice to know that the book I wanted to buy was actually good. I'm so very excited now!

    Jen
    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

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  18. Ohhhh, this review is beautiful, Jenny! "Theirs is a relationship of impossibilities, and we read each page willing elements into place to help them conquer the seemingly insurmountable odds of their success as a couple." Love. It. and now I can't wait to read it!

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  19. Christina - Romantic tension is my favorite. I can't get enough of it when it's done well and I thought it was here. Obviously the reasons keeping them apart were valid, so the tension made sense:)

    Misha - Yay for NetGalley! Can't wait to know what you think:)

    Savy - Agreed. There was a lot of complexity but not so much where it got confusing:)

    Jen - FUN! I would love to meet her:)

    Linds - Thank you! Hope you pick it up soon:)

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  20. Great review! I really enjoyed this one, and I'm glad you did too! I loved the dynamic between Amelia and Joshua, they were so amusing at times :)

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  21. It seems like whenever a book is a first in a series I'm always left with more questions than answers so I like that Hereafter is different and leaves the reader satisfied for once.

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  22. I just recently read Hereafter, and I completely agree. The romance was just perfect! :)

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  23. Fantastic Review as usual, Jenny! The premise of hereafter sounds so unique, I can't wait to read it!

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  24. Oooh I'm so going to have to request this one now!!! I wasn't real sure if I wanted to read it or not!

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  25. This was a DNF for me. I loved the beginning just like you said, but the middle fell flat for me. I loved the characters besides the too crazy grandmother. Great review Jenny! :)

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  26. This sounds great. It's so important to be able to connect with characters and Amelia sounds great. It sounds like a very haunting and moving story too.

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  27. Lea - They were definitely amusing, I just adored them:)

    Jenny - I liked that this one left enough open that a second book wouldn't be forcing anything, but not so open that we're pulling our hair out in frustration at the end.

    Carissa - It was unique! It was just a fun read and one that stood out for me:)

    Ashley - I hope you like it if you get it, I had a blast reading it.

    Jacinda - Aw, too bad! The grandmother was definitely crazy, I wanted to slap her:)

    Midnyte - I have to be able to connect to the characters, no matter how good the plot is, I can't get fully invested if I don't relate to the characters or at least feel something for them.

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  28. I loved it too , but also loved the mention of the 90's . Granted the Grandma made the story more interesting , and loved the tension with Joshua and amelia. Yeah for posting the review on the same day :0)

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  29. Oooo! I'm sooo glad this one is good! I'm getting chills this books sounds awesome. Creepy about the the character having nightmares about sinking into water. Ugh, that would be dreadful. I'm happy to hear it leaves you with wanting more but not some cliffhanger that leaves us desperately hanging.

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  30. I loved this one too...;) Just finished it a few weeks ago (I love Netgalley!!) I thought the middle was a little slow but I enjoyed it overall.

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  31. OH this sounds perfect for me. This is how unorganized I am... I have to see if it is on my tbr. *smacks head* I hope it is... it sounds so good! The characters sound like people I want to meet in a book! You know I love a good sense of humor!

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  32. Jenny-
    Okay, when I find the time I will read this one. You always write such good reviews. I've had my eye on this one for awhile, just glad to know it's that good.

    Heather

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  33. I'm so glad to hear the romantic portion of the book was done well. Insta-romance is one of those things that just destroys a book for me. This might just be a book that I have to read! Oh wait...I got denied four times on netgalley. Oops ;)

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  34. Julie - I'll be interested to see what happens with Grandma in the next book for sure:)

    Julie - I have a fear of drowning anyway, so I felt all the more for her that she had to go through it so many times!

    Tina - Yay! So glad you liked it too:)

    Melissa - Go get it woman! I liked Amelia's sense of humor, it was subtle and would pop up at random times and make me laugh:)

    Heather - I think you'll really like it, hope you get a chance to read it soon!

    Melissa - Hahahaha that's me with Die For Me. Hardcore denied. I haven't requested one since I got rejected, I have an irrational fear of continually getting denied by them:) I'm kind of awesome in all my wussiness aren't I?

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  35. Awe. I love the sound of that impossible relationship. I don't know if I've have the heart to take it though, all that yearning would probably kill me, and I know in the afterlife, I wouldn't have a Joshua to keep me company.

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  36. I've been looking forward to reading this one since I first heard about it last year, and it sounds like a good one! I requested it a while back on Netgalley, but I haven't heard anything back. Oh, boo! Book Depo here I come!

    Great review, Jenny! :)

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  37. I really adored Amelia and Joshua's relationship, so very much. The scenes were Amelia is "waking up" were beautifully written! What I did not enjoy about this book was Eli and his purpose. It felt odd to me. *shrugs*
    Nice insight, as always!

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  38. I am very excited for Hereafter. The romance sounds so sweet!! I am always interested in authors takes on life after death so this one will surely be enjoyable!

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  39. Their romance sounds so sweet. I can't decide whether I'm happier to hear about their tender romance or the fact that the book doesn't end on a cliffhanger :P

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