Thursday, December 17, 2015

After by Anna Todd

  • Release Date: October 1, 2014
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult
  • Pages: 592
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)

I’ve been known to do a bit of hate reading of NA, but since starting the romance blog (shameless self promotion is shameless) I’ve rounded a corner and have learned to understand and appreciate some of the genre’s tropes. I’m prepared to visit a generically named-idyllic-college with its brooding alpha rich boy-manwhore heroes and ingenue virgin heroines. But  After seemed to take those tropes to a whole new level….It honestly felt like it tried to be bad on purpose. This book was just so bizarre.

As many of you know this was originally One Direction fanfiction (er, real person fic ? bandfic ?) that got crazy popular on Wattpad. I actually started this on Wattpad after hearing about Todd getting a 3 book deal. I didn’t think it’d be my speed, but I figured it would be unrealistic contemporary crack fun. It seemed like there had to be some kind of hook that garnered this story 6 million views and pushed this book to well over 500 pages.

Needless to say, I was wrong.

 After is about what happens when straight-laced ad innocent college freshman, Tessa meets her roommates' rude, tattooed and pierced  “frat boy” friend AU Harry Style Hardin Scott. At first, Tessa doesn’t get why Hardin is so mean to her-- but soon they start a quickfire intimate relationship that consists of them flirting, fighting and breaking 7 times.

In my most generous reading of this book I would say there were a few things I thought were funny   like how Hardin literally only wears black t-shirts and Tessa is amused by how he just keeps a supply in the back of his car.  I also liked the idea of Hardin's group of crazy tattooed and pierced friends who never seem to go to class. In fact when Tessa says she doesn't like "The Slut" in Hardin's friend group, he basically says 'too bad she's our friend and she's not going anywhere'.

My biggest issue with this book is there is no sign of a plot anywhere. Which is confusing to me because this book was clearly edited from the original fanfiction. The language was changed and some scenes were added and removed.  I’m not sure why they didn’t try and reshape the plot structure more.

There is no real motivation or conflict for either character. People and plots are brought up and dropped so quickly. Which is too bad because there are some threads that could have created some interesting conflict. 

You could also get real nitpicky with this book; Tessa and Hardin only go to one class,
Hardin joined a frat so he can live in the house, but the frat never gets a name and he never has to do any frat activities. But the worse to me is that Hardin uses his connections to get Tessa (who has been a freshman in college for one month)  a PAID internship at a publishing house where she has her own office and just reads manuscripts for the publishing house owner. IN SEATTLE ! 

How in the world did the editors of this book let that one go?

*****Spoilers Ahoy****

So after a 550 page slog though this book Tessa and Hardin are in love, Tessa is no longer speaking to her mother or her beta high school boyfriend and has moved in with Hardin-- who is the only person she talks to when it is revealed Hardin has been She’s All That-ing her and had a bet with his friends that he could take her virignity and to make it worse he even showed his friends evidence. Which, just...ugh ? It really upset me that no one told her about this bet, not even her roommate who kind of likes her. And honestly this should have come at the half way mark instead of at the end.

This is the lowest score I've ever given a books, but I  have to give this book a 1.5 star because I really couldn't recommend anyone read this. Not just because of the content, but because it is so long and I don't think it's worth the time even for a hate read. 

Taking a cue from Jess' TFIOS review where she decided not to review the book like it lived in a vacuum, I did read some of Todd's interviews and have come to the conclusion that the biggest issue with this story was that it was never meant to be a book.

 Todd talks about how she basically wrote most of it on her phone--which it turns out is also how much of Wattpad is consumed. She discusses how she got into fanfiction based on Instagram fanfiction (I feel old) which is when people write fictional scenes based on in Instagram pictures.  I could see how this story could work in short bursts, but not as a 500-page endeavor. 

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