After Me by Joyce Scarbrough

cover

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Buzz Books USA
Publication Date: August 4th 2014

1 OUT OF 5 STARS

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When Jada dies she’s shocked to find out that the afterlife isn’t a myth. Even more surprised to find out that she’s in debt and has to return to earth to hunt down her killer as payment. While she’s looking for the scum that killed her Jada also has a chance to discover friendship and true love, something she’d have never dreamed about before her untimely death.

The plot for this book sounds thrilling, but less than 30% of the book actually focuses on hunting down perverts. Most of it is just your standard young adult romance. There’s some punishment but mostly our hero just lucks out and happens upon them rather than actually focusing on her task.

The biggest bone I have to pick is with the character of Jada/Gwen. She’s insufferable. She’s better than prissy girly girls, better than nerds and just all around “special” and “different”. This isn’t helped by the fact that she’s given super powers by heaven some of which are just entirely useless to her mission. Speedreading, excellent knowledge of chemistry – she doesn’t need these for any real reason in the plot they just make her look cool. If there is one trope I LOATHE it’s the “not like other girls” girl who’s just a snarky jerk to everyone outside her special friend group. Oh and let’s not forget she’s super-duper attractive.

That being said her friend group and foster family are lovely, too lovely. Everyone is perfect, and innocent and kid. Lew is an absolute dreamboat. Handsome, strong, smart and wealthy? He doesn’t have any real flaws. Nor do any of the other people Gwen likes. The villain is comical. His whole life revolves around rape and weird kinks and he thinks of literally nothing but murder and rape. It’s far too black and white. Not to mention the other rapists who are all practically oozing evil so profusely that anyone who didn’t look at them once and know they were sex offenders would have to be an idiot.

Rapists are bad. Readers know that, but it doesn’t give you an excuse to not at least try and write a complex character and society around them. Predators are seen as clearly evil, not people girls might trust before something happens which is more often the case. The way the book sets up rapists and the society around them feels like a bad after-school special rather than real life.

As well, and for now I am in the minority, the ending was a joke. The book built up to the ending just to exclaim “JUST KIDDING” and end on an entirely disappointing note. It wasn’t a strong writing choice. It took a book which at the very least could have been a powerful bittersweet ending and turned it into something that’s boring at best.

The premise could have been great, and some of the characters and story lines are salvageable (looking at you Lew and Matt) but overall it feels like a cheap coat of paint over a standard romance with cardboard cutout villains.

For Fans Of: The Lovely Bones

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