I received an ARC of Hereafter, a debut by Tara Hudson. At first I was skeptical, and this feeling of wariness only continued through my reading of this book. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. Part of the book’s weakness is that it feels terribly contrived but the lack doesn’t stop there. The characters are flat and wooden. The protagonist, Amelia, is wishy-washy and drippy and barely grows at all.
But I’ve torn into it enough for the opening of a review. You should really know what the book is about first.
Amelia died some unknown time ago. She dreams of churning water and wakes up at a river’s ditch. One day there is a young man in the water and Amelia somehow rescues him from drowning. In an instant moment of death he sees her, and they touch, and she realizes she can feel him. This sets of a series of events that will change Amelia’s entire outlook on her death, particularly when Joshua returns to visit her a few days later.
She begins to spend more time with Joshua and notices very strange things. Her memories of her life return when he reminds her of like instances; music and math and much more remind Amelia of who she used to be. But there is a cost for her new-found “life” with Joshua. Someone wants her for his own, a threatening ghost named Eli who insists that she was made for him. And no one else.
I enjoyed parts of this book quite a bit, but like I said earlier it’s contrived. Even as a ghost Amelia experiences signs of the living to the nth degree; gaspings, breaths of air, signs of terror, human fears… it’s all part of Hudson’s attempt to make this ghostly girl human. And it’s overdone. The other annoyance is that this book severely suffers from what I affectionately call the post-Twilight syndrome. Introduce otherworldly plot scenario, introduce a humdrum heroine who vacillates on everything, introduce a wonderful boy who she defines herself by, introduce bigger supernatural conflict… you get the idea. It’s Twilight all over again with a different mythos.
With this book the helpless heroine is even more obnoxious. Amelia cannot do anything for herself. Anything. She can’t move through walls like most ghosties so whenever she has to enter a room, house, etc. someone has to do it for her and nine times out of ten it ends up being Joshua, which adds a forced gallantry to everything he does. Even him trying to help her remember her past has a weird element to it; it’s all about him sharing his favourite things which quickly become hers too, like she has no personality of her own. The last thing that really irks me is the touchy-feely moments between them. It’s supposed to be sweet but it reads as sappy and saccharine. The fact that she can feel his touch conveys a Twilight-esque sexual tension to everything as well – “I can have you but I can’t have you”, as it were. The doomed nature of their relationship doesn’t do anything to endear the reader. Either she gets reanimated or he has to die for them to be together. It’s overall extremely predictable.
I’m hit or miss on books about the afterlife typically. If it becomes very God-y I’m out in an instant. This wasn’t preachy but it was just… flat. I don’t really have any desire to read another book of these characters despite having finished Hereafter. I don’t really care how Hudson continues to tell the story. It’s very bland, and I wanted it to be better. It’s very much a 3 out of 5 star book. I finished it for curiosity sake, but I won’t be reading the sequel. I really don’t care to see how Amelia continues to shape herself around Joshua. I’ve read this before. Been there, done that. It was better the first time. It needs some serious jazzing up to be as good the second time.
– Follow the Reader –