Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."
Word count: about 80 000 of pure win
*If you haven't read the "Angelfall" or didn't like it, "World After" not for you*
I might have made a terrible mistake... I've read this book. And now I have to wait for the next part to come out.
This book excels in so many different ways, it's shocking. I'm in awe, not because it was the most awesomest book I've ever read (I make no such claims), but because it was good in so many different ways.
We get an amazing glimpse into a dissolving society; moral norms that make us more than animals are very flimsy and can be easily stripped away, living only savage survival instincts to rule the masses. I like that. It's not like people don't remember the difference between right and wrong, but more primal emotions dictate their actions. Prejudice, fear, selfishness; all the ugly things, that are even now prevalent in our society, become more pronounced and run rampant, unchecked by social norms, free of consequences. All bets are off, kids, buckle your seatbelts.
Yes, let's introduce people to the concept of many shades of grey while we're at it (but in a good way). Charity begins at home. This was awesome. There were no heroes in this book (apart from Dee-Dum *maybe). People do bad shit because they benefit from it, and my father/mother/wife/child/friend or simply myself are more important than strangers. How about willingness to do something awful to have an opportunity to do something right? Nice one.
Penryn is a plausible character. Her priority is her family, but she struggles with doing the right thing, even when it comes to them. Hell, she struggles with what the right thing is, under the circumstances. She's not thoughtlessly bold, but even with her compassion, every act of courage takes an effort. She has enough common sense to recognize that avoiding trouble is the way to go in this world. What good is it to be a dead hero?
Her relationship with Raffe is great. There's no full blown eroticized romance. Nope, because well, there are priorities, plus he doesn't think that a girl is more important than the whole world. Nope. It doesn't mean they don't care, but there's important shit to take into consideration and actions have consequences. With that said... Awww.
Romance without substance, without plot is utterly boring. At least for me. It should be a small part of a book, not a centre of it, not a main forcer driving the plot (now isn't that a delightful way to murder a book?). If characters do important stuff and have personalities, all their actions matter more. No bland mushy stuff there. Look, it even gets awkward! I loved it. LOVED IT. GIVE ME MORE!!!
And their banter! YES!
Apart from balls/ovaries gripping action there was also true hilarity. Not just worth a chuckle, oh now, I found myself laughing out loud. Several times. And for me that's pretty rare. How many books do you know, that go from dark, to action, to laughing out laud? Ha? Ha!? Well, I don't know that many. It's a quite dark gritty stuff mixed with slight chuckles and even roaring laughter.
At this point I must emphasize how much I love Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum twins. They're truly a saving grace of humanity. People that have their morality sorted out, that don't panic, do the right thing and are able to have some fun amidst the carnage. Their mischief reminds me a lot of Weasley twins from HP. Now, that is a great complement. Their exactly my kind of people.
Ok, this review paean is getting long, so I'll wrap it up.
Plot is good, shit happens, good guys don't always win, there aren't even any real good guys there - all sides have serious faults. I liked that characters aren't perfect. I liked how Penryn was afraid, that at times she had to force herself to do the right thing or was about to break down. I admit, I wanted to be a snob and rate "World After" lower then everyone, but fuck, I enjoyed way too many things in this book to do that.
Writing a second instalment after a huge success of any novel, much less/more a début novel (fuck English idioms, I'm confused), is a serious challenge. Expectations can be very high.
The only serious gripe I have is that the book was too short.
Susan Ee, you have my respect.