February 19

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In the After by Demitria Lunetta – Reviewed by Naomi Bates

In the After by Demitria Lunetta

HarperTeen, 2013

Amy lived with her mother and father in the typical life of a suburban teenager.  But now everything is different.  Amy’s perception of time is different – “the past is Before, and the present is After.  Before was reality; the After, a nightmare.”

Her mother is gone and her father is dead.  She’s alone and her world is caving in.  It’s now a matter of survival and stealth.  They hear every sound and are fast…very fast.  Light attracts Them like moths to a candle.  They have no mercy and will kill and feast on everyone they capture.  They are taking over…

Amy has no idea where They came from or how it all happened.  But she has no time to think about that.  Because of her mother’s incessant need for protection, her house is fortified to keep Them out, but she still has to go out to forage for food.  And it’s during one of those forays that she meets Baby, a toddler who doesn’t talk, doesn’t make a sound.  Amy knows adding another person into her life and home right now is dangerous at best, but she can’t leave this little girl out there to die.

Three years later, Baby and Amy are still struggling to make life happen.  Now they have to contend with more than Them.  There are other people who have managed to survive, but it has become more like survival of the fittest where no one can be trusted.  The ones who survived will do anything to ensure their own safety and no one else’s, and life has hardened Amy to feel the same way.  It’s only about her and Baby, but one decision will spiral out of control and put them both in serious danger.

Little does Amy know there are two worlds co-existing together; one outside the walls and one within the safety of New Hope, a colony of survivors who have managed to live through intelligence and science.  While Amy has struggled, New Hope has kept Them out through their own inventions and research.  But little does Amy know what exactly is going on in this too perfect world…

Part science fiction, part horror, Demetria Lunetta writes a dystopian novel that takes the reader into the pages, not just reading them.  The emotional compromise of the main characters in every situation creates the reality of this book and leans heavily on this technique to create a very well-written and read plot.  Amy is tough but still vulnerable without overstereotyping.  Lunetta goes beyond by creating dual main characters in both Amy and Baby, a symbiotic relationship.  The reader understands the bonds between the two and is constantly wondering if a shift in trust to outsiders will make or break that oneness.  Lunetta also captures the dualism throughout the book by creating both a dark and light side in everything from the characters to the setting to the theme. It’s this remarkable ability, wondering which side is dark and which is light, that makes the complexity in the novel stand out.  Recommended for JH/HS.

Paired reading: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

 

Naomi Bates is a teacher librarian with a twist of technology working at Northwest High School in Justin Texas.  She has presented all over the country on technology for libraries, YA book trends, and advocacy on the importance of school libraries.  If you can’t find her online, she’ll be behind the cover of a good book!  Follow her on Twitter @yabooksandmore or her YABAM blog  (aka YA Books And More) at  www.naomibates.blogspot.com