Expected Publication: May 6th, 2014
After the End (After the End #1)
By: Amy Plum
She's searching for answers to her past. They're hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: there never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
I tried reading Amy Plum's other series, but hated it. So I was understandably wary about reading this one, even if the idea of it appealed to my likes. I bit the bullet and signed up for a book tour, figuring that I had nothing to lose. And let me tell you, I'm really glad that I did! As you can find out from the synopsis above, this starts out like a post-apocalyptic book but its really a fake-out. Juneau has been raised her entire life in the wild part of Alaska, just far enough away from civilization that her city's elders got away with a truly big-scale scam. Juneau and all the children of her "clan" have been raised to believe that WWIII happened thirty years ago, and the only people left outside their village are opportunistic drifters, who'd just as soon kill you as to look at you. Oh, and they all also have the same genetic mutation (a starburst in their eye) and have been trained to be in touch with the "Yara," otherwise known as the lifeforce of the Earth/Universe and all its components. The way its written is a lot like magic, but something slightly more on the mystic side of the coin than usual. It's up to Juneau to rescue her kidnapped family and the others of her clan, but once she gets into the world it gets complicated. Because she needs the help of Miles, a strange teenage boy, who is the son of someone who is hunting her down. And he has his own selfish reasons for helping Juneau. Can they work together or will their agendas collide to form a disaster of epic proportions?
I liked how the main focus of this book is the adventure and the quest. It goes from happy, post-apocalyptic village life, to the harshness of an unfamiliar modern world. Also, this book is a dual-point of view between Juneau and Miles, who couldn't possibly be more different. And the narrative voice reflects their differences very well, which is something that always impresses me. Dual-narratives are a bitch, and lots of the time both characters end up sounding exactly the same and turning off/pissing off the reader. Or at least me, when I am that reader. Juneau is strong heroine, able to take care of herself by living off of the land and she may not know anything about the modern world, but she calculates her next move with some serious intelligence that I admire. Confused at times, but always sure of her moral compass, Juneau is a character I admire. Miles is thoroughly a modern teenage boy, and is spoiled and bratty to boot. He clashes with Juneau immediately and I love how realistically skeptical his reactions to her life story, explanations about the Yara, etc. happen to be! No blind acceptance on his part, and above all Miles is always looking out for himself and his own ends. No insta-love to be found either! There is grudging respect and the two of them do have some feelings building by the end of the book. But no declarations of undying love are made.
I knew there was going to be a fakeout, in terms of the false apocalypse. But I wasn't expecting it to be because of a pharmaceutical experiment that everyone wants the patent to! I thought they were just brainwashing cultists who got taken away by the government, and arrested or something. Instead, the Yara is something that is real, in the sense that the genetic mutation of the children and their exposure to the drug gives them their abilities. Also, the clan's lack of aging plays a part in the way the plot progresses. Yes, I do agree with other readers that there isn't a large amount of resolution when it comes to the missing clan by the end of the book. We do learn more about mysterious/possibly villainous, cult leader Whit (once upon a time, Juneau's mentor). I also happened to love the detour taken by Juneau at mountain-woman, hermit Tallie's hidden house. She is definitely a great secondary character in a book that really only has three characters with a lot of focus (Juneau, Miles and Whit). But the ending is also a gigantic cliffhanger, with life and death hanging in the balance! I will definitely be reading the next book to find out what happens next and I really hope it doesn't suffer second book-syndrome! I highly recommend this if you're looking for something different, fresh and fun to read. It also is a pretty quick read as well, the 350-something pages flying by.
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is May 6th, 2014.*