Book Review Wednesday: The After Series by Anna Todd

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I have avoided this series for years. I remember when it was first released and I heard that it was a Harry Styles fanfiction come to life. Like others before it, ("Fifty Shades of Grey") I was intrigued by the idea that fanfic could be a best selling book because well, I used to write fanfiction. I can't believe I just said that out loud, on the blog... oh dear. 

Anyways... I bought the book "After" on iBooks years ago and after reading two chapters I was out. I thought the story was confusing and rushed, and it didn't intrigue me. After that, I would attempt to read it at least once a year but it never captured me.

I saw the phenomenon that followed - the movie adaption, the book spinoffs, and the hype that this series got but it just didn't pull me in. I had no desire to see the movie when it was released last year, especially after everyone said it was horrible so I figured I'd skip this pop culture moment.

Well, that all changed. I don't know what happened to me but two weekends ago, Mother's Day to be specific, I decided to give "After" another go. 

I wish I never started it because it literally took over my life for days. 



I read the entire first and second books on Sunday... staying up until 2 AM reading. Then, on Monday, I finished the entire third book. It was then that I realized I needed to wait... I needed a moment to breathe.

I actually was so fed up with the middle of the 3rd book that I read the spoilers online so I could have some peace of mind. I just couldn't let it take over my life. It wasn't until Saturday night that I bought & finished the final book in the series and felt some relief. I was actually anxious about finishing the series. That's how enticing it is.

The writing in these books was not the best but, the last book, Ever After Happy, was by far the best written and best put together. The other books felt sloppy and all over the place.. and what I was most fed up with is that the story was very repetitive. 

If you have never heard of these books, let me break it down. Tessa Young goes to college and meets a bad boy, Hardin Scott. They fall in love and are pretty much addicted to each other. The book is nearly identical to Twilight & Fifty Shades, down to the Washington State setting and the brooding 'stay away from me' bad boy love interest.

Hardin & Tessa are toxic as hell. It was infuriating to read the back and forth between them; they both messed up a lot, Hardin had a temper and Tessa played right into it. They would both fuck up (excuse my language), try to live without each other, and then something would bring them back.

That was the entire first three books. Things happened in between, of course, that would drive them apart and together but it was the same story over and over again. That's why I had to take a break because I was so annoyed.

However, the fourth book was very different and I think that almost made me angrier. There was a lot of back and forth but it wasn't nearly as satisfying and I'm not going to lie, I was really upset with the direction the book was headed in but in the end, it was wrapped up with a nice little bow which I am thankful for.

I haven't dived into the controversy behind these books mostly because I have no desire to be part of the fandom. It is too much. This book put me through the wringer and I have never felt so emotionally drained from a series of novels.

One of the main issues is that the story glamorizes abusive relationships, which Tessa finally calls out in the final book. This was a highly emotionally & mentally abusive relationship on both ends! It was very annoying and very upsetting to read. As I was reading, I felt like I was in the relationship.. it was that intense. 

It's so hard to put into words because it sounds so psychotic... how could a book emotionally drain you? Well, you have to read it to find out.

On another note, I completely was in love with Hardin Scott because I love toxic men. Chuck Bass? Damon Salvatore? Mr. Big? Hardin Scott is in that category but with more tattoos and a bigger temper. I mean, he was punching someone or something in every single chapter. But I loved it... that's on me.

I also love the fact that I was imaging Harry Styles throughout the entire series. Harry Styles is my everything. I cannot even let myself love him as much as I actually do because it physically hurts me. It's weird but I don't care. 

I cried when I finished the last book.. the story wrapped up beautifully and it was just a really good ending. It just took a really long time to get there... longer than necessary. This easily could've been a trilogy. The 2nd and 3rd books could've been morphed into one if it would've been edited properly. 

Did I love these books? Yes, I did. I have never read a book that made me feel this way. I have a very strong love/hate relationship with them.

Do I recommend these books? Yes...if you could handle not great writing, emotionally abusive young relationships, and losing your sanity for a few days, definitely read them.

I'm glad I read these books because they made me feel something but I don't think I could ever re-read them. I'm even skeptical about the movies because I feel so drained by the storyline. *Also, the first movie was horrible. I don't think I have ever watched a worse movie adaptation. They missed so much and the story just wasn't the same. It was horrifying. 

I suppose this post wasn't really a review but more of a vent session because I really needed to get all my feelings out. 

Have you read the After series? Let's talk about it -- I'll form a support group.

xoxo
B

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