Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: The Aftermath by Jen Alexander

Book Blurb:

Sometimes, I dream that I'm someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn't worry about hunger or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don't exist….

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville—polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibals. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge—sometimes with devastating consequences—all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other's best hope for survival—and a life beyond the only world Claudia's ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.

My Review:

3 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Dystopian, Survival--

Claudia Virtue does the best that she can to survive in an apocalyptic society where she and a few friends battle the elements and flesh eaters to just stay alive. When Claudia is injured on a supply run, her world becomes something very different than what she knows. Claudia needs to determine what is real and what she is willing to fight for.

I felt like I was reading a mash-up of the movie The Gamer with Gerard Butler and a random teen dystopian. On one hand I thought this book was very unique in the respect that I had not read anything like this, but on the other hand it had a similar concept of the gaming as the movie did with people being videogame characters for other humans in order to serve a punishment/treatment. It was challenging at first for me to get involved with Claudia since everything was so choppy and void of emotion. But the farther I read, everything about Claudia began to become clearer. I thought the story was a new take on teen dystopian, even with the same general theme of a destroyed world, an over-indulgent elite and a game to be completed.

I had a little trouble still with the world and the dynamic of everything. My take on the story is that people are tested for a specific violence gene and if it is present they must take part in an expensive rehabilitation program that is in the form of a violent game simulation. The wealthy who can afford treatment become gamers, and the poor must give themselves as characters to receive treatment. The book ends with a cliffhanger and confusion about pretty much everything, so I feel a little bit up in the air about my feels toward the book. I am intrigued enough to pick up the next book whenever it comes out, because I have a lot of unanswered questions about the setting that the book takes place in. I don’t understand Claudia or Olivia’s purpose or relationship, Declan’s intentions, the science used to keep the characters going, or anything having to do with the gaming program and reasoning. I felt like every step forward caused me to take 2 steps back in what I understood. If the next book does not clear things up early on, I don’t think I will be reading any more.

I struggled with Claudia. She in no shape or form is developed as a fully rounded person who you can root for. I feel for her on the level of nobody should be forced to commit acts they don’t agree with, but I don’t really care about her as a person. It makes perfect sense why she is not very developed because she has been nobody for at least 3 years. You can’t be yourself when you have no idea who yourself is and all you can remember is the blood spilled by your own hands. What I know for certain is that she does not want to kill anyone, yet she has violent impulses she tries to control, and emotional connections to people who are not real. She has a “boyfriend” but she doesn’t know if she likes his personality, actions or looks. And here comes some random Moderator in the game who threatens her, but is a real person with thoughts all his own and she is intrigued by him. I can understand the appeal, but I hate that the author made it into a romantic relationship between the two. They literally do not know anything about the other one and yet they touch and lust after each other sporadically. Pretty much everything they tell each other is a lie, and they both are aware of it. I am ok with them being friends/allies to help survive, but not the random romance that in my opinion came out of nowhere and had no substance to it. There was more passion between Claudia and Wesley than she and Declan, but whatever.

I found the setting of the book to be dark and intense, as well as full of twisty surprises that kept the story moving. What I found lacking was the characters and the relationships between them all. I need people that I can root for and like, and I did not really get that here. I will read the next book in the series and hope for more reveals since I am bursting with questions.

I received this title from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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