Matched (Ally Condie), The Program (Suzanne Young), and earthly magic – it’s got a little of everything. While Matched is for the younger YA reader, After the End is an older version of a similar ‘I’ve left the seclusion of my isolated life only to learn the world is bigger and I was lied to about the outside’.
After the End is literally …. after the end of the world, WWIII and a radiation explosion. Juneau lives in Alaska decades after WWIII destroyed all cities and all people except her village hidden away in the woods. One day out hunting she returns to find her village ransacked, people gone, and all the dogs killed. In her own yurt, written in the dirt with her dad’s neat writing is “Juneau, Run”….and she does. The Sage (protector of her village) has a cabin he goes to, for “me time” apparently and she runs there to find him- of course he isn’t there. Now she knows she is on her own and after gathering supplies she travels days to the ocean. Oh yes — the way she knows to go to the ocean? She has visions. Visions she sees when she puts stones into the earth, powder into a fire, etc.
Chapters alternate between post-apocalyptic Juneau and modern times, kicked out of school, smart, but gets into trouble Miles. Miles has a workaholic father with jobs and projects Miles doesn’t understand, but it is clear from the start that his father is involved in the disappearance of Juneau’s clan.
As Juneau travels to the ocean, as seen in one of her visions, she is surprised to see new cars, happy people, and pretty much everything opposite than the destroyed world she has believed for the last 17 years. Finally she comes into Anchorage and talks to people. Not only does she learn there was never a WWIII, but she learns people are looking for her!
I was really into this and thought it had a lot of prospect, but once Juneau realizes the world didn’t end, the plot sort of fizzles. With oracles, magic, and annoyance turned friendship between Juneau and Miles it just didn’t keep the same excitement throughout the book. Traveling is the main plot without a lot of action. It’s clear about halfway through that the delay in plot development means we won’t have a conclusion and probably won’t find her clan in this book. It’s going to be a series, which I didn’t know when I started, but could tell midway. So if you’re willing for another series, here ya go. Although, it took too long for the conspiracy to get going and I didn’t care for all the earth magic, sci-fy stuff.
Once Miles and Juneau are no longer traveling in the car together, the plot picks up again with Miles’ dad’s goons chasing her and a kind stranger who hides Juneau in her house in the woods. Still though, it doesn’t finish as strongly as it began.