Friday, January 2, 2015

After by Anna Todd

After by Anna Todd
Release Date - October 21, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 592 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?

Unless…could this be love?

Now newly revised and expanded, Anna Todd’s After fanfiction racked up 1 billion reads online and captivated readers across the globe. Experience the Internet’s most talked-about book for yourself!
Take a broken boy, a sheltered girl, add in some amusing banter and sexual tension that you can feel through the pages and you'd have After. It's a familiar story. It's also one that will have very strong reactions with readers. Those who like their bad boys especially bad, their characters imperfect, and their love stories twisted and flawed will devour this novel excitedly.

Anna Todd's wildly successful Wattpad sensation created a lot of buzz leading it to be repackaged and published. I was intrigued when this was announced and wanted to read it for myself. What the author delivers is a highly readable novel. Anna Todd's writing is what you would expect for this story type, and is totally consuming. I read through the rather impressive 592 pages rather quickly because you become engrossed in the drama. You need to know what happens next. It's a compulsion. It's your favourite TV drama amped up more than a few notches.

This novel garners such strong opinions because these are characters you don't necessarily like all the time. They are flawed, messy, and hurtful. They may make choices that you wouldn't make yourself. The relationships formed are destructive. They are, however, relationships that I saw in highschool. They were the relationships of my friends, and fellow classmates, only heightened for drama. It's an angstier version of a CW television show with just as many plot twists.

The characters are, at first, undeveloped. It's only towards the end with some secrets finally being revealed that we begin to see other sides to these characters. The development of these characters seems to be a slower process that will build over the course of the four novels in the series. The first novel seems rooted in perceptions, and prejudices. Tessa and Hardin both perceive the other in a certain way because of their outward appearance and that is stripped down as they get to know each other.

The relationship between Hardin and Tessa starts off with some banter and thinly veiled 'I hate you but want to sex you up' arguing. Hardin is a jerk. He's unkind to Tessa is so many ways. He's someone she should stay away from. He's vicious with his words, and actions. He EXHAUSTED me with he's antics. Hardin is exhausting, volatile, and often enraging. He'd be right at home along side many of the current incarnation of 'bad boys' that are more harmful than sexy. I spent most of the novel wondering why Tessa would waste her time with him. Their constant back and forth left me with whiplash. The glimpses of the broken guy underneath his cutting exterior weren't enough to soften me. It was not until we finally learn the truth behind his wounds that he begins to make a different impression. It's searing, and brutal and you immediately get it. Tessa wants to save him. You understand why forgiveness would be possible to someone like Tessa. However, any of that understanding is smashed, and promptly tossed away for good measure by the time you reach the ending.

This relationship reads more like lust than love. Hardin's ability to turn Tessa from someone who wants to be treated with dignity and decency to one that lets him walk all over her with a single touch was problematic. I actively spent most of the novel shipping Tessa with anyone who was not Hardin. However, as mentioned, he does at times win you over. Slowly. It's never quite enough, however, to erase my unease at how toxic this relationship is. It's portrayal as romantic is even more concerning. It's the final atrocity that Hardin puts Tessa through that is the last nail in the coffin. It's demeaning and beyond hurtful. Forgiveness for me would be impossible. I would be 1000% done with him. There were problematic elements to the relationship that bothered me before, but they end up being a minor blimp when compared to the screaming red warning lights that are the novel's aftermath.

My opinion of this novel is all over the place. Will I continue this series? Yes. It's addictive, and the characters are imperfect and messy. These characters do not make the same decisions I would, but I am drawn to their stories. If anything my curiosity regarding the continuation of this twisted love story is piqued. I am not sure how Anna Todd will make this love story work, and the possibilities have me on edge of my seat awaiting the next installment. I just hope that the author shows this relationship for what it really is - unhealthy, toxic and problematic. While I enjoyed this one overall, I can see it being a hit or miss for others.

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