ANYWAY, I have been on another one of my infamous reading binges, and thought it might be a good time for a good ole' book review from yours truly. Tuesday night I was up past 2:00 AM. Part of this was due to a special bout of midnight insomnia, but the rest was due to being wrapped up in the book I picked up when the insomnia hit.
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton stood out from the very first page because it is written in second person narrative. The narrator, Grace, is telling the story to her husband. Second person is probably the most uncommon narrative mode, and was a bit distracting at first, but once I really got into the story I hardly noticed it. In the book, Grace and her daughter Jenny have both been seriously injured in a fire that burned down the private school attended by Grace's son, Adam. Grace and Jenny are both in the hospital unconscious, but they are both having out of body experiences. They can communicate with one another, but not with anyone else. Adam hasn't spoken since the fire and the police are fingering him (at age 8) as the arsonist. While she and Jenny remain in a limbo-like state Grace follows the investigation into the fire trying to figure out who is really responsible. Was it an accident, arson, or attempted murder?
While Afterwards started out a little slow, once it picked up the pace I couldn't put it down. Lupton does an excellent job of navigating the twists and turns throughout the story. Just when you as reader think you've figured it out, she throws you another curveball. The author also brings up some interesting commentary on motherhood that develops with the various maternal characters in the book. Regardless of whether this is intentional or not, it made me think. Some might have an issue with the out of body experience aspect, but don't let that put you off. The supernatural stuff was really pretty minimal and worked well with the story. I did find it ironic that the only major issue I had with the book was the character of Grace. I felt like she was a little whiny, insecure, and self-defeating. Usually you want a main character you can root for, and I just didn't feel like I could do that with Grace. I actually found her sister-in-law Sarah much more appealing.
Afterwards was published in the UK in August 2011 and is due for release in the US on April 24th. If you like murder mysteries/suspense in general, I think you will like this book. I also think fans of The Lovely Bones or The Time Travelers Wife will enjoy it as well. I just put Rosamund Lupton's other book Sister on hold on my library's eBook lending service. After reading this book, I definitely want to check out her first book to see if I like it as well. Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Publishing Group (a division of Random House) for letting me read a galley copy of the book.
(BTW, none of these people know me or gave me coffee to read the book. I just read it and liked it and wanted to share. :D )