Review: AFTERTIME by Sophie Littlefield is a stunning, breathtaking dystopian novel with a heroine who kicks butt and takes names.
Cass Dollar lives in a very different world than our own. The apocalypse has come and gone. The world has been destroyed by bioterrosim, war and financial ruin. After food began to disappear and livestock and vegetation died off, the government decided to implement a unique program — drop seed from the sky via plane so the people left behind can rebuild their lives. Until it was too late, scientists didn’t realize a group of seeds mixed in with the nutritional ones were dangerous and deadly. Or was it really a mistake?
Unfortunately, many people consumed the seeds, known as blueflower, for their blue tinted foliage. After consumption, blueleaf caused people to die off from a fever. You thought that was bad? Many people developed a fever and then became zombies, aka Beaters…hungry not for food but for human flesh as their sustenance. I think I”d beat it the heck out of there!
Throughout all this, Cass, a convenient store clerk, has survived on her own. She recently got back her toddler, Ruthie, who was taken from her by her mother and stepfather. Yes, Cass has some dark demons — she’s a recovering alcoholic which led her not to choose wisely in life, especially when it came to men.
Cass finally feels like she’s got her act together. Along with her daughter, she is living with sect of people at the local library in her small town in California. The group has rituals and routines in order to protect themselves from the zombies shambling outside their doors. But if someone does the wrong thing, like wandering too far, the zombies can snatch them. This happens to Cass. Fortunately, Ruthie is rescued by some people at the library, but Cass isn’t so lucky. The zombies take her.
At the opening of the novel, Cass wakes up from far from her hometown, unsure of how she got there or what happened to her. It is three months later and Cass is making the long dangerous trek back to her hometown. Miraculously, she has survived the zombie attack…though she does remember trying to eat her own skin. I know, I know it’s gross. But when the zombies can’t find some fresh prey, they end up eating their own flesh.
With the help of a handsome and cavalier stranger named Smoke, Cass sets out to find her daughter. The two form a friendship and romantic bond. Along the way, they discover the zombies are changing, people are now taking up arms, and there’s a far more scary world out there besides the barren and desolate landscape. Cass also learns why she survived her attack and she’s not the only one and that a frightening militia want Cass…dead or alive.
I absolutely love AFTERTIME! Reminiscent of AMC’s The Walking Dead, the novel brings a new and fabulous protagonist to the zombie genre — primarily dominated by male characters. Though torn by the shame of her past and failing in Ruthie’s safety, Cass will do whatever it takes to make things right. Smoke is sexy, charismatic and just the salvation Cass needs while navigating the futuristic world of AFTERTIME.
Cass Dollar rocks as a protagonist. I love her vulnerability. Even though she puts on a tough exterior, she’s hurting inside. Smoke has an interesting backstory, too. But he doesn’t reveal everything to Cass. While reading, I started to wonder if Smoke had an agenda of his own and if he was who he really says he was. He definitely wants to remain a man of mystery.
Side characters are equally interesting and fascinating. I could visualize the setting perfectly and was worried for Cass and Smoke’s safety throughout the novel which has some pretty intense moments. Filled with flashbacks of Before that show Cass’s past and what happened in Aftertime when she was attacked, the story is a quick and fast-paced read.
I was blown away by AFTERTIME. Romance fans will swoon and sci-fi fans will cheer the gore and zombie action. This book has it all and will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. Littlefield known for her mystery and young adult novels has hit her mark with her dystopian series! Note: due to violence, sex and language, AFTERTIME is best suited for older teens and adults.
Terrific cover, too! I love the orange and yellow tones. It feels like the dry, hot and zombie-infested California of Cass’s world — especially the smoke (wink, wink). I’m looking forward to reading REBIRTH, the second novel in the series. The third novel, HORIZON is due out next year. Littlefield also has published a novella for the series called SURVIVORS, available electronically.
I’m giving AFTERTIME 5 “Relaxing with a Good Book” Retro Pictures for being dystopian fiction at its finest!
By: Jo Treggiari
Pub. Date: June 1, 2011
(Also Available in Electronic and Audio Formats)
Age Group: YA+
Review: I would first like to thank Scholastic for sending me a finished copy of ASHES, ASHES in exchange for a fair and honest review.
If you’re looking for something to fill the void of The Hunger Games: ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari is a great novel to do just that. I’ve been searching for something similar in feel to The Hunger Games for a while now. If you are like me, I’m constantly looking for books which compare to the ones I love.
As far as the multitude of dystopian books that are being produced like hot cakes at the moment — the dystopian is the new vampire book — there’s only been a handful that have captured my interest. Unfortunately, for me, some of them have not lived up to my expectations. Worlds do not ring true, characters are uninspired, and the plot falls flat. Thank goodness, ASHES, ASHES came along! I was about ready to give up on the whole genre and call it a day. But Treggiari has done everything right!
ASHES, ASHES is fresh, cool and brings new life to the genre. ASHES, ASHES is a post-apocalyptic which is more of a sub-genre of dystopian novels. I was so excited to receive the book that I told Treggiari that I hugged the book. ASHES, ASHES has been on my must-read list ever since I first heard about it.
Lucy Holloway, a New York teen, has lost everything after the end of the world has come and gone — natural disaster, famine and a plague that has destroyed Earth and killed off the majority of its human and animal population. Only 99% of humans remain on Earth. The deadly plague virus, a pox, took Lucy’s beloved parents and brother. Miraculously, Lucy survived. With her home gone, she now survives in the wilds of Central Park, hunting and trying to stay dry from the ever-changing weather. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s an instant down-pour. But one of Lucy’s main priorities is to stay away from the Sweepers — a group of people who kidnap the remaining people and infect them with the virus.
While out looking for food, Lucy comes face-to-face with her worst fear…an army of dogs belonging to the Sweepers has located her scent. But help comes from an unlikely source, Aidan, a young man she’s never met who has a humorous wit, a charming smile, and is a survivor just like her. Yet, Lucy soon learns that the end of the world, the plague, and rumors about those left behind may not be the truth, after all.
The characters whom you root for and those whom you love to hate are multi-faceted and suffer with their own problems beside the constant worry and threat of the Sweepers lurking on the horizon. The setting is very much a character in this story and it’s real and believable. I also liked how the city of New York is still — in some respects — the one we know today…at least in name. Although, destroyed and ravaged, it retains same names of streets and sections. Even if they no longer exist or are underwater, they are the same in Lucy’s mind. I feel this important because no matter if there is different world those things will probably always remain in tact as they have throughout centuries of historical change.
Lucy and Aidan’s relationship grows throughout the novel. Even though they have chemistry, it is not instant love. Their relationship is more of a friendship then anything else. As for the plot, I knew from the beginning where the story was heading, especially when it comes to Lucy’s role as the protagonist. But, I was still enraptured — no pun intended — by the premise. There are a lot of twists and turns which had me on edge. I was constantly worrying about the characters.
ASHES, ASHES is fast-paced and had me turning the pages quickly to get to the end, despite not wanting the novel to be over. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing the characters and setting again. ASHES, ASHES ends on a bright note and is satisfactory in conclusion, though it leaves room for a sequel. Yes, please!
I love the cover. It’s dark, dismal, and fits the novel perfectly, especially New York in ruins and underwater. Though the characters are in profile, it’s how I pictured them when reading the book, except for the fact that Lucy’s hair is described in the book as more curly. The cover on my book has Lucy in tank-top. There’s a different cover on Goodreads. Lucy is in her motorcycle jacket and hoodie, instead of just a tank top. This cover is probably more realistic because she wears those clothes throughout the book.
I’m giving ASHES, ASHES 5 “Relaxing with a Good Book” retro pictures for leaving everyone behind in the dust!
What are Dystopian Novels? I love Dystopian Novels! They are some of my favorite books. Dystopian novels are often considered science fiction or speculative fiction. These stories usually take place in a futuristic world. The setting is usually no longer a world maybe we, as readers, recognize as our own like in THE HUNGER GAMES. It’s often a frightening and nightmarish world for the characters…one that sometimes has no hope.
According to Wikipedia, Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity has been able to evolve. Dystopian societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens.
I put Apocalyptic novels into this category, too. On Wikipedia it states that apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization due to a catastrophe such as nuclear warfare, pandemic, impact event, etc. Post-apocalyptic fiction is set in a world or civilization after such a disaster. The time frame may be immediately after the catastrophe, focusing on the travails or psychology of survivors, or considerably later, often including the theme that the existence of pre-catastrophe civilization has been forgotten (or mythologized). A fantastic Post-Apocalyptic novel is ASHES, ASHES which is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 1st!
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH
By: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: March 2009
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Electronic and Audio
Age Group: YA+