After the Woods
Genre: Psychological Thriller, YA
Publication date: Feb 23rd, 2016
by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Would you risk your life to save your best friend?
Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.
-A copy was provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux for review-
My feelings about After the Woods are complex. I think it is a great novel on the whole but there are also bits about it that bothered me. Either way, if you are looking for a psychological thriller with a potentially unreliable narrator, After the Woods is for you.
The reason why I am not completely ready to say I loved this book though is that I am not satisfied (I’ll never be satisfied.) There are so many questions left unanswered by the end of the novel. It feels unfinished, like there is more of the story to be had. Not necessarily in terms of plot but in terms of character development and understanding the motives. Also what actually happened in the woods.
Don’t get me wrong, I love books that confuse you so much you have no idea what is real or unreal but this book doesn’t quite get there. It has a solid foot within the ‘real’ realm and isn’t out to fuck up your brain. That’s why I am unsatisfied by the non-ending.
That said, I really enjoyed Julia is a character. The way this book explores her PTSD and the way she comes to terms with what happened in the woods is amazing. Julia is also not perfect, she occasionally treats people like shit, makes bad decisions, doesn’t see what is right in front of her but all of this is understandable given what she has been through and it’s part of her coping process. She isn’t picture perfect but as a character, she is awesome.
There are also some interesting relationships in this book but I wanted a certain father-daughter one to be explored more. I also wanted Liv and Julia’s relationship to be explored more. All we are shown is them in the present and I wanted more of a reason to believe in this friendship rather than just hate Liv’s guts. The romance in this book was forced. It could have been a sweet slow-burn but it didn’t work that way. The romance did take a back-seat to the important stuff though so don’t feel put off by me saying that. I just think it had potential to be more swoony than it was since I actually wanted Julia and Kellan to be together.
To read or not to read… that is the question and I would say READ IT since After the Woods is a fairly quick read. It’s also engaging and while it left me unsatisfied with the resolution, the mystery was still well-developed and Julia was a multi-layered character.
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