After The End, Book 1

 
(i)

 

Gritty sci-fi survival tale questions reality and authority.

What parents need to know

Educational value

A variety of issues and topics are discussed in After The End, including: politics, war, disease, global warming, survival skills in the wilderness and the city, and figuring out directions from a map and the sun's location in the sky. The characters travel from Alaska to New Mexico, so readers learn a bit about those places. 

Positive messages

Strong messages about  love and family, trusting others, the importance of friendship, believing in yourself, sticking up for others and being kind to other people, taking the high road. Avoid arguments, but if you get into one, work to find a solution. Animals can provide comfort and guidance (in this case, two husky dogs that stay by Juneau's her side and take care of her, and a raven that helps Juneau and Miles on their journey).

Positive role models

Juneau's very brave, kind, caring, and devoted to her clan and especially her father and her mentor Whit. She's a good tracker, hunter, and can survive on her own.  Once she learns that everything she's been brought up to believe was a lie -- such as the existence of WWIII, and global warming and disease taking over the world and leaving her clan as the only survivors in the Alaskan wilderness -- she questions everything. At first Miles thinks Juneau is a "freak," but he soon comes to value her, and she makes him a better person and inspires him to love animals as she does. 

Violence

Some fighting of hand-to-hand combat and with weapons. Juneau uses a crossbow and knife to protect herself, as well as kill animals for food. A character uses a gun, and another one's shot. 

Sex

Mild flirting and two kissing scenes. 

Language

"Ass," "s--t," "crap," "bulls--t," "prick," f--k," "pissed," "crap," and name calling: "stupid, "freak."

Consumerism

Brand names such as McDonald's, Coke, Gap, BMW, Jeep, Shell, Exxon, and Dairy Queen. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that After The End is about a teen girl who's been led to believe there was a World War III in 1984, from which she and her clan were the only survivors, living in the Alaskan wilderness until the present day -- but finds out it was all a lie. There's some violence -- killing of animals to survive, hand-to-hand-combat and with weapons (knife, crossbow, gun) -- and swearing (including "ass," "s--t," "f--k," "bulls--t," "prick"). After The End also has romance and two kissing scenes. Politics, global warming, brainwashing, and religion are among the thought-provoking topics discussed.

What's the story?

Juneau Newhaven lives in the Alaskan wilderness with her clan and father. She's been taught to believe that World War III in 1984 destroyed the earth, leaving her people as the only survivors for decades. And she's been trained to believe she has a mystical, paranormal power that connects her to the earth, and has a religious belief in being one with nature, called the Yara. When she discovers her father and clan are missing, Juneau goes in search of them. Once outside her territory, she enters thriving, present-day Anchorage and discovers that everything she's been led to believe is a lie. There was no World War III or apocalypse. Juneau feels betrayed and hurt by her people. Along her journey, she meets Miles, a rich kid who helps her, but also questions her sanity -- and eventually falls for her. The farther she gets from home, the less she feels connected to nature and her powers. Eventually, Juneau and Miles are forced to make a choice between friendship and family. Juneau's race to find her clan turns into a game of survival against the men her hunting down -- including Miles' father, who wants Juneau for his own purposes.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

AFTER THE END is told in alternating first-person, present-tense narration by Juneau and Miles. At first the novel's slow moving, but once Juneau discovers her clan is missing, the pace picks up. Readers will especially enjoy the interaction and banter between Juneau and Miles, who need each other for specific reasons and come to rely on each other. Juneau's completely serious about her mission of finding her family, and Miles provides plenty of comic relief. He doesn't accept that Juneau was fed weird lies and has magical powers, even until the end, which helps makes the story believable. 

There are lots of interesting characters and side characters, but Juneau and Miles are truly the heart of the novel. The cliffhanger will leave readers desperate to find out what happens next. After The End is a good mixture of science fiction, mystery, thriller, and romance, with lots of political and social issues to engage readers and possibly inspire them to question their own world. And for readers looking for diverse characters in novels, note that Juneau is part-Chinese, part white.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about dystopian novels. How is After The End different from other dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels you're read? How is it similar? 

  • How would you feel if you found out that what you were raised to believe was a lie? How would you deal with the consequences?

  • Have you ever been camping? Do you think you would be able to survive in the wild? What would you do if you didn't have technology to rely on?

Book details

Author:Amy Plum
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperTeen
Publication date:May 6, 2014
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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