AFTER by Anna Todd

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The After Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Experience the internet’s most talked-about book, now a major motion picture, from Anna Todd, the writer Cosmopolitan called “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation.” Now with new exclusive material!

There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER Life will never be the same. #Hessa

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, and tattoos, 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?

Age Range: Adult


Where to start? Okay, I’ll just say it. I hated this book. The writing is awful. The story is incredibly repetitive.  And boring. These characters are in college, and Tessa is a virgin. Not just a virgin, she’s barely been kissed by her boyfriend of many, many years. They were saving themselves for marriage. An appealing goal to some, to be sure. But in this story, it’s just a challenge. Literally. Like these short, choppy sentences? Then this may be your book.

Despite the length of this book, the main character, Tessa, is not very well developed. She is a one-dimensional caricature of a naive 18-year-old who has never had a drink or seen anyone with a tattoo. Oh, stereotypes run hard here. Tattoos and/or piercings and/or Kool-Aid colored hair equals bad. Clean cut equals good, just like in real life. Because you can always judge a person based on their haircut, and everyone knows only good people wear preppy clothes. Like Robert Chambers, for example.

Hardin, a year or so older, is the male protagonist. He is slightly more developed, although it takes an inordinate amount of time (and pages) to get his story out. We know he has wildly shifting mood swings, and Tessa constantly refers to his probably bipolarity or other mental illnesses (see sentence above about stereotypes.) The way he is portrayed, and talked about, in my humble opinion, does grave disservice to those who suffer from mental illness. On the bright side, Tessa is an English major and a huge Jane Austen fan. If this book makes young people read Austen, then it may all be worth it.

This is a couple whose time is spent veering between sexual fumbling and screaming matches. It was painful to read, over and over and over and over and over again. It doesn’t help that proper grammar was tossed out the window, and a good editor, or any kind of editor, was nowhere in sight. I understand that “new adults” like to read about characters like themselves. The “new adult” designation means these are older teens who have a lot of sex, versus “young adult” who are younger teens who also have a lot of sex.

I picked up this book because I was curious. It was made into a movie that has a really bad 17% Rotten Tomato score, while the audience rating is 72%. It has over a 1000 reviews on Amazon and tops out at four stars. A friend told me this was originally published on Wattpad, a self-publishing platform, and was fan fiction based on Harry Styles of One Direction. I’m a few generations removed from that, so it didn’t mean much to me, and I did a little digging. I found this article at The Atlantic (spoilers galore) that tells the whole story of this publishing phenom. The After series seems to be at the cusp of a major shift in publishing, and frankly, it does not bode well for the future.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AFTER by Anna Todd. Gallery Books; Media Tie-In edition (March 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1982111007. 608p.

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