I had really enjoyed the first book – After The End. It was a great way to relook at YA dystopian, featuring a bit of a lone wolf strong female character having to navigate a landscape of new realities. Her resilience and thoughtfulness, as she quietly took on the challenges, was rewarding. But with this second book, nearly all of that character development was thrown out the window in favor of a lot of a lot of preachy Earth-mother mysticism and braggadocio. Sadly, that translated into a lack of investment in the characters or plot.
Story: Juneau and Miles wanted to disappear quietly – but others have different plans for the teens. Most specifically, somewhat wants the secrets of Yara and is willing to kidnap and kill Juneau’s clan to get it. It’s up to Miles and Juneau to formulate a way to save her people.
Interesting, I found this second book had a lot of the same hallmarks but also issues as Plum’s previous series, The Revenants. Both feature themes about people trying to do good (and the harm that can come from it). They both have antagonists that want to corrupt the good for selfish reasons. And both have storylines that falter and stagnate midway. In listening to both, I had a hard time staying invested and became bored quickly. The writing is lovely but very simplististic and straightforward, lacking in nuance and distinctness.
Most problematic for me was that the character development of the first book was sadly lost here. Yes, our characters should be more comfortable with each other and so situations are relaxed and easy. But at the same time, they do still barely know each other. By the end, Miles never grew more and Juneau became a very unrealistic messiah. Once again, the teens save the world (or in, this case, Juneau single handedly wraps up the story). But before that, be prepared for a long and somewhat uninteresting ‘filler’ known as the road trip.
I didn’t dislike Until the Beginning and did finish it. It wrapped up without surprises and pretty much as I expected. But I have to accept at this point that perhaps Plum’s gentle writing style isn’t for me. I’m looking for something more unique and edgier. Note: I listened to the Audible version and the narration was fine.