Book Review: After The End

13601681World 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.

ashley | I was expecting After the End by Amy Plum to be another post-apocalyptic thriller, a genre I admittedly gravitate towards, but one that I have been reading WAY too much lately and am growing a little tired of. I was kind of relieved when I picked this up and realized that it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Not at all.

Instead of the usual civilization to post-apocalyptic chaos, After the End takes a civilized commune that’s survived World War III and the apocalypse by becoming one with nature and living off the land and thrusts them back into the modern world that, apparently, wasn’t destroyed in WWIII at all. Imagine waking up one day realizing that the entire history of your people and your world was a lie and that the people you trusted, your parents and your mentors, were the ones who had been lying to you all along?

There’s a magical, supernatural element to this story. By being raised in nature and living off the land, certain people of this clan have been given a gift to communicate with the Yara – the natural ‘force’, if you will, that allows them to read other people and the elements around them. Because of this connection, the clan doesn’t get sick, they don’t age, they don’t die. This, of course, turns out to be something that modern civilization will do anything to get their hands on and thus, creates the culprit that tears this clan apart.

I really like how Plum mixes together modern day attitudes and realities with the isolated upbringing of Juneau. But what I like even more is that Juneau is aware that her upbringing is different than that the civilized city she ends up in. It drives me crazy when people are thrust into foreign realities but they still act out in their normal ways, even though it draws attention and is blatantly obvious. That doesn’t seem natural to me, I feel most people would be somewhat aware that things are different and acting out will draw attention.

Juneau is self aware enough to realize that everything she knows, everything she has been told and her entire existence is different than the reality she is in and while she doesn’t fully adapt to this modernized living, she at least tries to keep things low key. Of course, she does still stand out and some of her actions make her seem a bit crazy, but she manages to stay unnoticed for the most part.

I really liked Juneau. She has that fierceness and drive to survive that I love in female leads, very similar to Katniss in The Hunger Games. She’s very focused and loyal and determined. A great role model for any young girls reading this.

Like most books along these lines, there’s a love story. It’s expected, but it does play out very naturally. Though Juneau and Miles seem like an unlikely pair, they are both looking for something and a little lost in this big world, so the bond they end up forming doesn’t end up being as unlikely as it originally seemed. Besides, it must be fascinating to meet a girl like Juneau; I think any boy in Miles’ shoes wouldn’t fight too hard to leave her behind.

I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I had a lot of assumptions going into it, most of which were shattered as I read through. It was quick paced and interesting, I read it in nearly one sitting. And of course, this is only the beginning. The book ends on a cliff hanger, the story unfinished, but it’s definitely a story I’ll be following through with when the next installment comes out.

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