Author: Amy Plum (Twitter)
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Source: Personal Copy
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.
It's taken me a long time to both read and review After the End, in large part because I feel like the dystopian genre, although downright entertaining at times, has been a bit overplayed in the past couple of years. I was, however, intrigued by the premise of the novel because it seems so very different from the dystopian novels I've read as of late. If anything, it offers us a faux dystopian, which is remarkable because, if done right, we'd have the chance to see just how powerful those behind it would have to be…and why they did it. With veteran author, Amy Plum, at the helm of this one, I knew that I would love the writing, so I just needed to see if I would actually love the story, as well.
In terms of characterization, I absolutely loved how Juneau and Miles were complete opposites. Juneau lived in a society that believed they lived after the destruction of World War III. Miles, on the other hand, lives a fairly average and boring existence in his normal, everyday life and when their paths collided I knew that we were in for a treat. There was a beautiful dichotomy to the fact that they both thought the other was nuts. While Juneau's point of view was confused, but articulate, we saw Miles' as bewildered and just going along for the ride. There are massive trust issues that course through their interactions, as well, which kept the tension alive throughout After the End - especially because these two worlds have collided in a way that seems entirely implausible and chaotic.
The plot's pacing, however, was a different ballgame for me. After the End starts with a bang, and sets off at a rapid pace, propelling us on this journey to discover the nature of Juneau's world vs. Miles' world. And, for the first third of the book, I found myself unable to stop reading. However, as the story begins to evolve into a bigger picture where Miles and Juneau's lives intersect, it becomes a bit of a roadtrip story that's much more introspective than action-filled. I wanted more from those chapters, simply because I felt that they lagged after such an impressive start. Luckily, however, the pace picks back up in the end, and we're propelled towards a grand conclusion that definitely sets the stage for future installments.
In the end though, I have very mixed feelings about After the End. On the one hand, I loved the utterly original take on the dystopian genre, and I enjoyed how vastly different our two main characters were. On the other hand though, I wanted a little more consistency throughout, and I felt a bit like this novel was setting us up for future drama. In the end, that's great, but it tends to throw off my interest in the meat of the story a bit. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian and sci-fi novels.