After by Anna Todd | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
The After series, penned by newcomer Anna Todd, has become infamous in the erotic genre and caters perfectly to the younger, hormonal and love crazed crowd it’s targeted at. Heavily hailed as the next IT novel After is known primarily for originally being a fanfiction based on the immensely popular boy band, One Direction, and has since produced a massive following upon its original release to Wattpad.
So popular, in fact, that the author scored a sweet deal for the publication/continuation of the series as well as talks for a potential movie adaption. Which in spite of my opinions of the series itself I gotta say: get that money, girl!
The way the story came to be published seems to have taken a page from the Fifty Shades of Grey handbook in all its trashy, dramatic, passionate “love” story glory. There are many parallels between the two series and its ups and downs as well as the controversy attached to both of these incredibly toxic relationships.
Which isn't a good thing, obviously.
And it really tips us off to the fact that there have been more and more publications of popular fan fiction, with changes in names to avoid lawsuits and what have you. While it’s not necessarily out of the ordinary or strange at this point, it does confuse me a bit as to why.
It has clearly blown up and frankly, it wouldn’t have done so if it wasn’t a One Direction based story originally. That’s the only reason, in my eyes, that it has made such waves thus far.
I'm serious: I can't see how it ever could have survived, exploded in gossip, without the notoriety of having been a boy band based fanfiction.
Anna Todd’s writing isn’t always terrible but is shaky and not much to write home about (see: her extensive use of the word ‘skank’ and ridiculous back and forth in plots) but she does show signs of promise. The problem is that the lacking/rushed plots ultimately fall through on its own mediocrity.
Which is, obviously, disappointing. We’ve seen all of this already, hundreds and hundreds of times: virginal girl (Tessa) moves away for university, has overbearing mother and dull boyfriend, life is all planned out already, meets dark and mysterious boy. Said girl makes judgements upon those who dress/act differently than her. Instalust, instalove, instalackluster.
But even in all these flaws, you can see why it’s entertaining to read for its target audience. It takes no real effort and is purely a form of entertainment. I read it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. After is like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. It’s not terribly difficult to read and it has that soap opera level of, well, everything that keeps younger readers interested in the story.
My only concern is the crowd of impressionable young readers who cannot understand its fictional nature. Which seems to, sadly, be a majority of its readers.
Many of us can tell the difference between fiction and reality, and I am not addressing them when I say this. Ladies, please listen carefully: these two aren’t relationship goals. Hardin is not your white knight or dark knight and you should NOT being looking for someone like that.
Stop making excuses for abusive behavior. Reasoning for such behavior is not an excuse. It's an explanation.
This is a story. Enjoy it for what it is, by all means. There’s no crime in being entertained by plots as such. But please remember where to draw the line.