In The After is a fast paced dystopian novel in the spirit of Ann Aguirre’s Razorlands series (Enclave, Outpost, etc.). We have an ordinary girl thrown into extraordinary circumstances having to battle zombie-like creatures while dealing with idealistic or broken down dystopian cities. I appreciated that there isn’t a soppy romance and the main character makes (for the most part) smart survivalist decisions that explain why she has survived. As well, there is a lot of action but the book reads smoothly and easily. It kept me engaged from start to finish.
Story: Amy watches in horror as aliens invade the planet, their zombie-like attacks decimating civilization quickly. Thanks to a paranoid mother (electrical fence around the house) and an environmentalist father (solar energy), she has been able to survive the daily attacks by the creatures she calls Them for several years. But she knows she can’t survive that way forever – as supplies and time are running out.
The book was a surprise: starting out more zombie apocalypse but ending with a straight evil dystopian world. The action squences of surviving outside are replaced at around 40% with the psychological and world reveals in the dystopian ‘paradise’ as everything Amy has come to understand is turned on end. And she will end up in far greater danger inside the ‘protected’ walls than outside.
This series reminded me a lot of Ann Aguirre’s Razorlands series (Enclave, Outpost, etc.), but without strong male characters. In The After is a very female-driven book with nearly all male characters being weak or evil-crazy. That oversimplification of the male race ended up as the strong reason this was a 4 star and not 5 star book for me. I would have liked much more depth in the men/boys throughout other than psychotic or browbeaten.
In all, a solid 4 stars for me. A quick, easy, enjoyable zombie apocalypse dystopian story with a solid story arc and several surprises.