A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although it plays a little fast and loose between science and magic, Until the Beginning does attempt to be realistic in its depiction of how Juneau employs her survival skills.
Keeping secrets from family members can be destructive. Loyalty and friendship are important. Loving someone doesn't mean you can always project him or her from harm.
Positive Role Models
Juneau is fiercely loyal to the members of her clan, but she also knows she must seek her own destiny. She wants to be independent, but she feels an undeniable connection to Miles. He, in turn, wants to protect her but gradually admits she must fight her own battles.
Violence & Scariness
Until the Beginning has scenes of violence, but they tend to be understated and not rendered in gory detail. The novel opens with Miles having been shot and on the brink of death. The climactic showdown features a lot of gunplay, but Juneau's clan members aim to wound their enemies rather than kill them. One of the villains is attacked by a bear.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Juneau and Miles are physically intimate. They hug and kiss and in one scene have sex, although the details are not given.
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"Damn" and "hell" six or seven times each. "Bulls--t" once and a handful of uses of "f--k," "ass," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the villains drinks alcohol in one scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to the know Until the Beginning is the second half of the story begun in After the End by Amy Plum. Having discovered that she and her family members are not survivors of World War III, as she has been told, Juneau Newhaven must then rescue them from a ruthless millionaire who wants to exploit their life-extending drugs. Juneau and her traveling companion, Miles O'Donnell, develop a close relationship and work together to locate Juneau's family. She and Miles are physically intimate; they hug and kiss and in one scene have sex, although without graphic details. There are scenes of violence, but it's usually understated. There's gun and knife play, but Juneau and her clan usually aim to wound, not kill. There are fatalities in the climactic showdown, and one villain is attacked by a bear. Language includes a dozen or so instances of "hell" and "damn," along with one or two instances of "f--k," "bulls--t," and "ass."
Is It Any Good?
Sometimes two books is just enough; rather than stretch the story to three volumes, author Amy Plum has the sense to wrap things up in a couple of strong volumes. Alternating as narrators, Miles and Juneau spend the first half of the book reacquainting themselves with their new abilities and feelings for each other. The action ramps up at the midpoint, and the showdown between Juneau's clan and the hired guards of a deranged millionaire is exciting and well-choreographed.
The science behind Juneau and Miles' powers is not at all realistic, but most readers are not likely to mind, as they will be engaged by the gritty and sometimes witty road trip of survival.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.