Review: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield ★★★

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Genre: Post Apocalyptic (Zombies, biological and chemical warfare, dystopian elements)
Series: Book one in the Aftertime series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Luna
Country: United States
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
ISBN: 978-0373803361
Page Count: 384 
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Wearing unfamiliar clothes and having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong. In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world....

REVIEW


Disclaimer: This is my first real post apocalyptic novel so I have little to use as comparison material. The only other book I can think of that I've read that's in any way a Post Apocalyptic is 'The Host' by Stephanie Meyer, but that's more Sci Fi- alien take-over, than apocalypse.

Anywho. I think I should perhaps have left a little time to go by before trying to review this as I'm a bit confused about how I feel about it and I literally only finished it minutes ago, so this will probably read more like a brain fart than a review, but bear with me.

I definitely liked certain aspects of it. Overall, Littlefield's writing is solid. My only real issue in that department was the stuttering, stumbling dialogue and the overuse of "you know". Maybe this was another affect of the apocalypse; not only did people start eating each other for breakfast, but it also made them forget how to form coherent sentences. Shame, really.

It was also very atmospheric. The zombies were incredibly creepy and the descriptions of their behaviour sent shivers down the spine. The pacing, as well, was not too bad. Although there were a couple of instances of zoning out, but I was usually brought quickly back to attention. The characterisation for the main character and some of the secondary characters was also good, but others felt a little cardboardy to me.

So that's what I liked. Now for the Not So Much.

The world-building, quite naturally, is extremely bleak. There is little joy to be found except perhaps the joy found in communities forming and people bonding together in such desperate times. On top of this bleakness, though, you've also got Cass, the lead character, who is like a one-woman disaster novel all by herself. She's a total mess. She's a former addict, a former victim of child abuse, a former victim of zombie abuse. And it's because of all this that she's now become the type of person that rejects any and all acts of kindness on the assumption that she doesn't deserve any. She will purge and punish herself often if anything is remotely going well in her life. This, on top of the Post Apocalyptic setting, was just too much for me.

I think I needed someone who was less of a hot mess to carry me through my first sojourn into the genre. Someone to root for and maybe a relationship to follow, one that formed despite the horrendous conditions. But I didn't. I got Cass. And a "romantic interest" that was as flat as a pancake. The two sexual encounters in this book were the most unromantic couplings I've ever read. And apart from that I saw little evidence of a relationship. He was just there. And I don't even know why he was there, that was another issue. He just decided to tag along for no apparent reason..... Weird.

So, this is now a bit of a pickle. Did I not like it all that much because I don't like the genre? Or is it just this particular book/series/characters that I didn't gel with? I'm afraid I think it might be the latter. I have no great desire to read the next one but I will keep my eye out for any others in the PA field that have more of a "together" lead character to follow.

All in all, this adds up to a wishy-washy, neither here nor there, three stars. Nom, nom, nom.

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