Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: The Aftermath

The Aftermath #1
Jen Alexander
Young Adult/Dystopian
288 pages
Available August 26th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sometimes, I dream that I'm someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn't worry about hunger

or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don't exist.

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville: polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibal Hoarders. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge sometimes with devastating consequences all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other's best hope for survival and a life beyond the only world Claudia's ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.

The Aftermath has one of those horrifyingly fascinating premises; the kind that floods our minds with all kinds of questions the moment we crack the spine and doesn’t allow our curiosity to taper off for a single page until we reach the very end. After reading the blurb however, we can’t help but have a few reservations despite how intrigued we are, wondering if our upfront knowledge about the gaming aspect will hinder our overall enjoyment because it’s something we know that our protagonist unfortunately doesn’t. Being aware of something a character isn’t can sometimes be frustrating as a reader, but luckily Claudia learns the larger truth about The Aftermath–the fact that it’s a live role playing game–early on, thus removing the burden of being alone in our knowledge and allowing us to settle in with her as we try and figure out how blood and death became required sport.

Claudia is someone we learn quickly is the type of person to whom we’d want to hitch our wagon were we unlucky enough to find ourselves in The Aftermath, her confidence making her a leader who oozes reassurance yet at the same doesn't pretend their world is anything other than brutal. Even when she learns that so many of her words and actions are not her own, she stills radiates capability and determination, making us want to follow her wherever she decides to go. She genuinely cares about those in her clan despite her newfound knowledge that they are nothing more than puppets whose thoughts and actions never really belonged to them, wanting vengeance and payback for all they’ve suffered and hoping it’s within her ability to grant it.

While Claudia is a young woman we thoroughly enjoy spending time with and the subtle romance with somewhat enigmatic Declan has our feelings pinging wildly over our emotional map, the true strength of this novel is in the mystery surrounding the game. We’re fed small revelations in perfectly sized pieces, satiating us temporarily before our curiosity reaches the frustrating stage but at the same time leaving so much more just outside our grasp, a carrot dangling to lead us down the path Ms. Alexander has laid out for us. The explanation for how the game to came to be is relatively simple, and in its simplicity lies believability and plausibility. We can’t help but cross every part of our bodies that can be crossed in the hope that our reality will never reach such a state, but Ms. Alexander makes it painfully clear how easily it could happen, showing us in terrifying detail how the forward march of scientific and technological progress is both astounding and alarming.

Overall, The Aftermath is an utterly tense and completely absorbing first installment, the pages flying by and the hours seeming to pass in a matter of minutes, leaving us horribly disappointed when we reach the last page for no other reason than it means Claudia’s story is temporarily at an end.

Rating: 4/5

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This book was sent to me by the author free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.


  1. This reminds me of The Eye of Minds by James Dashner. I liked that book so much (sci-fi in general) that's why I think I'll like this too. Sounds interesting and engaging. I like how you describe the setting of Aftermath. It sounds so twisted and haunting! Great review, Jenny!

  2. I love a good tense read every now and then and this sounds wonderful. Great review Jenny!

  3. I love this kind of dystopians that deal with technology as I find them realist. I mean technology is already going wild. I also like the sound of Claudia and she seems really likable. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one. Great review, Jenny :)

  4. I keep seeing this one around and I confess I wasn't sure at first but it finally sounds really good and I confess that I'm quite curious! Great review lady!

  5. I had no idea what this one was about although I’d seen the cover around; but after reading your review, I feel like I have a better idea of what to expect from this one. I wasn’t really tempted by this until your review so I’ll add it to my wishlist. The mystery and worldbuild sound pretty interesting.

  6. This sounds like a very unique premise and I'm quite intrigued by it. I'm glad that we don't continue knowing more than the character for long, since that gets to be rather old with time!
    Great review, Jenny!

  7. I'm so glad you liked this, Jenny. I agree that the world was terrifying because it's something that you could possibly see one day. I don't even game, but this makes me not want to touch a video game ever in my life!
    I'm excited to see where the author takes us next!
    Lovely review, Jenny!

  8. Very nice review! I have seen this book around a lot and it looks like something I need to read.

  9. I heard about this book back and January and it's on my Kindle app, waiting to be read. I need to read it soon! I love the pink cover and your review is excellent, Jenny!

  10. I'm glad you enjoyed The Aftermath, Jenny! I liked the idea you mentioned in your review about how the author created a simple explanation for how the game to came to be, "and in its simplicity lies believability and plausibility." Sometimes simple and straightforward is all we need. This world sounds well written! Wonderful review as always :)

  11. You know based on that cover I would have never guessed YA Dystopian--it looks more NA Contemporary. However it does sound like a really good read and one I would have passed over. Putting it on my list to try!

  12. This certainly has a refreshing feel to a dystopian novel! The premise and background of the plotline really intrigue me... Claudia sounds like such a refreshing character to get to know. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Jenny!

  13. This book's premise both fascinates, and horrifies me, which I guess was the author's ultimate goal. However, any novel that can make you lose all sense of time, is worthwhile IMO. Off to Amazon I go...

  14. I'm actually quite excited about this one.. and yes I am a gamer at heart, and I'd wish I'd have more time to play:))

  15. I am not a gamer, but that doesn't mean I couldn't get lost in this one. It sounds thrilling.

  16. Oh this sounds perfect for me. I love tension done in this way and I do like the sound of the characters especially Claudia. Curious about the romance. Hm.. Oh I need to read this one.

  17. Ooh, this sounds so good! Mostly because it also doesn't feature a love triangle and Claudia seems like a protagonist I'd seriously come to love. Thanks for putting this on my radar, Jenny--I need it NOW. ;)

  18. Ooh, an enigmatic Declan? (Can I say how much I like that name?) I like that the romance is subtle but that it works well with this story. The overall premise is definitely creepy. *shudders*

  19. Boouu, I've been denied from NetGalley! :/ Boouu, it just seems so intriguing and a role play game? Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. The only thing that bugs me is the name ''Claudia.'' It seems too simple for that kind of story/world-building. Anyway, great review, Jenny!

  20. Very curious about this game premise! It sounds both unique and bizarre, so I'm glad you thought it was believable even still. Now I'm feeling like I need to find out what it's all about! This is actually the first I'm hearing of this one so thanks for the informative review, Jenny!

  21. Yay! This book was already on my radar as one of the few dystopians I'm actually interested in, but even more so now, b/c Claudia sounds like my kind of character. No more spineless ninnies for this girl ;)

  22. So glad you enjoyed this! I was already interested to read it just from the synopsis, I love sci-fi and anything involving gaming, and the fact that you enjoyed it and the pages were flying by for you is just the icing on the cake. Lovely review!