Have you ever been really curious as to what would happen if aliens invaded Earth? I can’t say I was until I read this book. It was recommended to me by a co-worker that I trust in her book taste and then again by my school’s librarian. Set in the not-so-far-off future of the United States, Lunetta’s debut novel, In the After, is a strong introduction into life after the apocalypse.
The main character, Amy, splits her life into two separate parts–The Before and The After. The book jumps pretty quickly into the After portion. We get a glimpse into her life before–Mom has a max-security clearance job with the government and Dad is an environmentalist hippie. Amy is just your run of the mill everyday, average teen. Until They show up one day while she’s watching the news.
As I was reading the beginning of this book, I kept thinking “There is no way this is going to be like, 400 and some pages. All the action is happening now!” Within the first 50 pages, we meet Them (the pea green, human flesh craving aliens that have come to Earth), Amy finds a baby she names Baby in a supermarket, and there are some pretty near death experiences. Initially, this instant set up with jarring to me—I felt like the climax of the story happened every couple of pages, but as I neared the end of section 1, it made more sense.
Commence section two–Amy and Baby have been living for three years together in the dark, in silence. It was pretty convenient, in terms of alien attacks, that Amy’s dad had built a rooftop garden, installed solar panels, and constructed a rainwater shed water system so the girls had power, food, and running water the whole time. This is the only major detail I disliked in the book. Amy and Baby are forced to leave their home (I cannot tell you why, but it does contribute to a major twist ending) and are picked up by black clad figures that initially seem to be more aliens. The girls learn that they are not and are taken to a place called New Hope, a university that survived the alien attacks formerly known as Husten-Prime.
In my humble opinion, this is where things got a wee bit hairy for me. Things start to pick up at bit in this section. Amy meets a strapping young lad that, despite any major romantic gestures or relationship development on Lunetta’s part, is taken by Amy within 50 pages of meeting her even though she has an ugly hair cut. There are also a set of doctor’s that are out to protect the community at any cost and there is a weird group of teenagers that are allowed to sit all day and think about ways to make New Hope better.
Then…..in my opinion, it happens. The story magically shifts to italic fonts. It’s clearly Amy speaking, but readers do not know where she is or what she is doing. Then it switches back. It does this for a lot of the section. It gets pretty old after a while, I will admit. At first it’s intriguing–Amy is going on about doctors testing her brain, she is drugged, etc. After a while though, I got to the point where I’m like JUST FREAKING TELL ME ALREADY WHERE SHE IS! It does tell you (in section 3).
The book goes on to follow Amy in her discovery of the mysteries of New Hope and her decision to become a guardian, which ultimately separates her from Baby. I haven’t spent much time on the relationship between Amy and Baby, but it’s really important to both this book and the next book. Amy would die to save Baby or kill anyone to save her. As her only companion for 3 years in silence during the apocalypse, I understand the attachment complete. Lunetta really established this and you come to love Baby. She’s innocent and sweet, but smart and has really uncanny hearing. Amy is painstakingly pulled away from Baby as she becomes a Guardian, a position that allows her to fight Floraes and avoid the law that states all women are to have babies every three years until they are 40—ew, gross, I know.
I can’t reveal too many details about section three, but this is where the weird narration and the regular story meet back up. You really are going to hate Doctor Reynolds here. There are also three pretty major twists in this section and some guests to New Hope. Despite how annoying the whole Ward situation is, this section was really awesome. I was reading during class and I kept gasping as each twist happened. They are so stinking major it hurts! I think that is what got all my kids wanting to read it. I pose the question as I leave you—Is it really an alien novel?
Why I liked it:
It’s a good book for the simple fact that it is different from anything I have read before. Some how though, it pulled back around to YA lit’s dystopian trend and that really worked for me. I’m also impressed that this was Lunetta’s debut book. It was a really strong entry into the world of author-ness(?). It was a can’t-put-down novel in a lot of respects.
Why my kids liked it:
Well, they are still reading it, so I can’t tell you right now. But I’m sure it will be for same reasons I did.
Quick and Dirty, 160 Character Review:
Great debut from Lunetta. Book is interesting and packed with lots of twists. With 3 sections and instant action, it keeps you sucked in!