Review : Aftertime
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Pages : 375
Genre : Post-Apocalyptic
Series : Aftertime, Book 1
My Rating :
What it’s about :
After bio-terrorist attacks destroyed important parts of the ecosystem, the government’s plan to make it better failed by turning people into Beaters, creatures who yearn for human flesh. Extremely dangerous, the new disease has left many more dead than alive and forced the survivors to fight for the smallest necessities.
Waking up from a traumatic event with a blurred memory of the recent past, Cass knows only one thing for sure : she has to go back to her daughter Ruthie. Fighting the zombies that took over her world and people’s fear of outsiders, Cass also has her own secrets, one in particular that could get her the wrong kind of attention.
My Thoughts :
Let me tell you something : at the start of the year, I read some really great books that I immediately added to my “Best of 2011” list, thinking that if my reading continued on the same way, I’d have a fantastic reading year. Then school kept me busy and I thought, no problemo, I’d spend the summer reading anyway. I expected it to be full of awesome, but as it turned out, it wasn’t exactly like that.
I have read many good books this summer, even a few great ones, but Aftertime is the first to hit me this way. I loved it, I just couldn’t let go of it. Every time I finished a chapter, all I could do was read the next one. Littlefield created a fantastic character who, all the while being a kick-ass woman, also has plenty of faults. Cass’s life has never been easy, not even before this apocalyptic disease happened : victim of sexual abuse as a teen, she is now a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t made peace with her past yet. She has guilt about being a bad mother all the while wanting to be perfect for her daughter, and I found it impossible not to feel for her. She’s an intricate character that felt real, all the more important in a world ravaged by horrific creatures.
Talking of these creatures, I have to say that the author accomplished something amazing on that aspect. The Beaters aren’t the laughing stock of the story, like zombies often are : instead, they are scary as they should be. They also aren’t the only aspect of this post-apocalyptic universe on which Littlefield focuses. The world has been changed forever and the author really gives a lot of attention to what this results in for the survivors : clans are formed, things that used to be taken for granted become precious goods to be traded, life is an everyday battle with completely different rules.
Each new character Cass meets open a new door for new possible story lines, and I loved that. I don’t know when (and if) Cass will meet again the Covent’s sisters, the Rebuilders, or any of those she met along her way, but each glimpse we get of these different groups is rich with ideas. Every time Cass left some place, I had the distinct impression life continued there, and I could imagine how it was. What I mean is that, even though we’re reading Cass’s story, it didn’t feel like the whole world revolved around her, you know? The author does a great job of describing her world in a realistic manner, making Cass’s story a frightening yet captivating one.
I can’t finish this review without mentioning Smoke, of course. Smoke is the mysterious hot stranger who accompanies Cass for most of her journey. He has secrets of his own, doesn’t reveal too much about himself, but him and Cass, they worked well. I believed it. More than that, I loved that while he is very present through the pages, he isn’t Cass’s main concern. They care for each other but it’s a slow, careful fall. They can be intense and the attraction is there, but Cass doesn’t lose focus from her sole objective : get Ruthie back.
I can’t say enough good things about this book! While it doesn’t reinvent the post-apocalyptic genre or the zombies-type creatures, it definitely exploits these things beautifully to explore the complexity of the human character. If like me you love dystopian universes, post-apocalyptic stories or zombies, then this is one to read. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters – I have a feeling I’ll have my nose in book 2 before long!
Series Reading Order :
- Horizon (coming January 24th, 2012)
Novella : Survivors, Aftertime 1.5.