October 26, 2014

The Aftermath by Jen Alexander

Claudia Virtue woke up three years ago.  She remembers nothing of her life before.  Her life now though is a small clan of survivors trying to ward off the ever-present threat of cannibals called Flesh Eaters.  While on a mission to find food and water, Claudia gets knocked out.  When she awakens, her world starts to make less and less sense.  She feels like the words she is speaking are not the words she wants to be speaking, her actions not what she intended to be doing.

That's because Claudia's life is not her own.

Claudia discovers she is nothing more than a pawn in a game with all of her actions being controlled by another girl in another place.  She tries to escape, but there's no way out - that is, until she meets a moderator named Declan.  But things are never what they seem in Claudia's world.

I thought The Aftermath was a good debut novel for Alexander. There was excellent character development and it wasn't the same old same old story.  There were times I could predict what would happen and times I was surprised.

The romance was pretty banal so don't read it for that.  Also, the beginning is a bit trite and she underestimates the reader a bit, but it gets much better.  I am not convinced the reason she tells things easily figured out isn't because she is trying to demonstrate Claudia coming into awareness.  It could've been executed better, but the farther in you read, the better Alexander seems to handle this.

The Aftermath is a story about Claudia but it is also a story about humanity's humanity- keeping it, losing it, faking it. I liked that this was not just a story - but a message.  It makes you think and consider - something YA books often lose track of in their quest to be the next mega-million movie deal.  I appreciated that it was a message other than "government bad", which, to be honest, is officially a pedestrian concept now.

Overall, I think Alexander wrote a good debut novel and I am interested to see how she steps it up for the next book.

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