I received this book for free from Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Aftermath by Jen Alexander
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 26th 2014
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi, YA
Source: Harlequin Teen
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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.
With a highly unique premise and complex world building, The Aftermath easily stands out in its genre. It’s very well thought-out with a lot to love for gamers especially, but it did fall flat in character development and plot progression.
In few words: Claudia is a character in a post-apocalyptic game, being controlled by the person playing her (who is most likely a psychopath). Cool, right? I thought so. This concept is really intriguing, but how it was executed could have used a little more… oomph. It didn’t take long for me to grow frustrated with our heroine, Claudia. Not her personality itself, but how easily she clued into this wild concept we’re thrown in. After only a few clues, Claudia puts it all together, even asks herself how she didn’t figure this out sooner. Because being a puppet in a futuristic game is one theory I always keep in mind O_o I think if we had worked more on her character building – especially psychologically – it might have been more believable. She did spend 3 years in a confused mess, but this fact was merely mentioned in passing so even knowing that, I found it was a bit of a too-wild concept to have it all figured out so easily. Not just her, either. Declan figures her out in a minute, which is kinda of incredible considering there has supposedly never been an instance of a character being self-aware. With that said, there are things in the book that is done for sake of plot progression rather than believability.
The plot itself is not especially fast paced. There’s always something going on, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of it is merely detours to the real plot – we go on missions and come back right where we started. We do find out interesting tidbits and get more world building during these, though. As a gamer myself, I loved finding out more about this game and how it all works. It’s fascinating, really. I just wish we had learned more about the world outside of it. We’re left with a sort-of… I’ll call it “information cliffhanger”, that only introduces more questions. What we do know of this whole world remains fairly limited at the end of this book. It’s also unclear where the plot is headed (or what it even is outside this concept). Almost everything we do find out is left unanswered – even small things like how Olivia has a map no one else has, or the mention of a new version of the game. Things I’m likely to forget by the time I read the sequel, really.
Also, while there is some romance in this book, it plays a pretty small part and I can’t say I felt anything, emotionally, toward it all. I wouldn’t go into this expecting a romantically driven saga.
After re-reading this review it sounds like I disliked this one more than liked it, but that’s not really the case. Where some aspects of the book do leave us with something to be desired, the concept itself is really impressive and kept me engrossed. Gamer fiends will definitely want to give this one a try!
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