Genres: Young adult, paranormal – ghosts, romance.
I think I really like ghost stories. There’s just something about them. They feel more realistic to me than any other concept in YA paranormal romance and they can be intriguing, creepy – or both. However, I was genuinely expecting to be indifferent to Hereafter as I’ve read quite a few reviews saying they thought there was too much romance (and this is coming from people that like paranormal romance) and that they just didn’t think much of the book in general, that it was a struggle to get through.
I was captivated from the very first chapter. We’re thrown into action as Amelia – our dead girl protagonist – struggles to save a boy unknown to her from drowning. Amelia describes to us her lonely life spent wandering around High Bridge river and cemetery, having nightmares that feel unbearably realistic, and, as if that isn’t bad enough, she cannot remember anything about her past except for her name, her age and how she died.
I really enjoyed Hereafter and could clearly imagine everything happening as it was described. Tara Hudson writes eloquently and I constantly felt like I was reading by a cold, dark river or within an eerie cemetery. Amelia was able to adequately describe her unhappiness and internal strife without becoming a whiny, annoying character. I have no qualms about her character, nor Joshua (our drowning guy) and Eli (our antagonist and fellow spirit) – all three were satisfactorily interesting to me. Josh is your standard lovely nice-guy (and I really like those) whereas Eli definitely would have that snarky, indifferent bad-boy look about him.
One of the main concerns that others had about this book is the so-called “insta-love” that is hugely popular within the young adult genre. Love at first sight, basically. Now, I won’t deny that insta-love was present in this book because it happens for both Amelia and Josh, but it didn’t bother me because I could understand Amelia’s reasons. If I had been dead ten years and hadn’t spoken to another person in all that time, hadn’t been recognised or acknowledged, I’d probably fall head-over-heels in love with Josh if he was the only person that could see me and talk to me. Loneliness is a terrible thing and it’s not surprising that Amelia was obsessed with Josh from the very start. What I had more difficulty understanding was Josh’s attachment to Amelia…
I think a major improvement would have been to have a lot more detail. There were quite a lot of unanswered questions, character backgrounds and plot details that were touched on but not fully explored in depth. Nonetheless, I don’t think that Hereafter needs to be part of a trilogy or series, which it will be. What is with young adult literature’s obsession with making everything long and drawn-out? Hereafter would have been more satisfying as an in-depth novel. This won’t stop me reading the sequels but I do think it’s a great shame.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and so I’m giving it four stars. I still feel bemused as to why some young adult paranormal/fantasy romance fans really disliked it, but each to their own. It’s one of my favourite novels of this genre that I have read.
You can read more about Hereafter on Goodreads.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from HarperCollins.
My Rating: ★★★★