Saturday, October 3, 2015

Smiley face After We Collided by Anna Todd | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

"The best thing about reading is to escape from your life, to be able to live hundreds or even thousands of different lives."

After We Collided is penned by seemingly overnight sensation Anna Todd, who got her start writing fiction on the website Wattpad–and follows a split narration between characters Tessa and Hardin and covers their tumultuous romance.

It is no worse or better than its predecessor, After, but fans can look forward to the continuation of plots and the sexual encounters they’ve come to expect.

It is packed to the brim with toxic and thoroughly dramatic dynamics, and of course at times showcases weak writing. After We Collided continues its tradition of back-and-forth romance. It is not a serious novel and you mustn’t expect it to be. Todd’s series is written long and in real time and reminiscent of a deliciously dirty and obnoxious soap opera.

Anna Todd toys with readers and often things are calm only to be thrust into turmoil again. Readers need be warned (or reminded) that the up and down nature of “Hessa” and their love story is not real life and their dynamic is incredibly horrifying. This is is not a relationship one should look for nor should it be admired. Please, please–have a firm grasp on reality and what your relationship goals should be.


Sprinkle in some literary references, bad-guy-good-girl love story and you have Anna Todd’s bestselling series in a nutshell. It’s a familiar formula, it’s a familiar story.

After is horribly, horribly flawed but delicious and twisty nonetheless. It’s easy to see why it’s drawn in such a large fanbase. I’m not quite sure why I can’t put it down, as I have a love-hate for it, but I found myself devouring this large installment rather quickly. And rejoice–Anna Todd’s writing has improved!

Still, After We Collided isn’t quite good. No, no… it’ far from it. If I had any shame, I would have probably been embarrassed reading it; the story line in general a bit of a mess and all over the place but it’s still an entertaining, if not suffocating irritating, read.

It’s, yes, a train wreck that you just can’t look away from. Even if you try–which I did. Multiple times. It’s an addiction I just can’t escape and I’m not sure why.

Let me break it down for you in the words of another Goodreads reviewer, Angela: I don't think I can reiterate enough how much I hate this series... "But Angela why the high rating?"... Well let me break it down for you, this is the best worst thing I've ever read. It's so addictive it's insane. It's like the potato chip bag of books. You don't want to eat more than a handful but somehow wind up eating the whole bag.

It’s just captivating in all the wrong ways. While it’s certainly not my favorite series, it’s still fun in only the way a novel as such can be. Anna is a master at manipulating my emotions; I didn’t like a lot of things, I don’t like the actions of her characters (in particular Hardin) and yet I kept crawling back for more.

It’s a roller coaster I couldn’t get off of. Guess I’m in it for the long haul at this point?

As for the characters…

Tessa, I feel, is growing into her own bit by bit. By no means am I saying that she has changed in every way for the best. I am saying that she is a very different girl than she was a short while ago and that is equal parts good and bad. Leaving home for the first time is always an experience and Tessa’s development is a nod to that.

Although things haven’t been easy or necessarily good for her, she has been flexible in her changes–her actions and new found confidence show that. It’s still an ongoing process, but it’s nice to see her–in spite of circumstances–becoming more and more comfortable in her own skin as she leaves the sidelines of life.

I’ve enjoyed her subplots in regards to her growing career, her education and the things that help define her outside of her family and romantic entanglements. I still adore her friendship with Landon and his family.

And I’m glad she’s taking a step toward rekindling her friendship with Steph. I would love to see more of her former roommate but I’m not sure where Anna will go with it.

Onto her romances… I spent a great deal of the novel hoping she and Hardin would just end things, I even had a few moments were I wanted her to be with Zed or the guy from work. It’s just a very exhausting process when it comes to the relationship of Hessa and I’m not entirely sure I want them together based on Hardin’s treatment of her.

Connecting with her: Her hardships and complications with her mother are a frustrating pain and I feel deeply for her; I’m just not sure how much of a possibility there is of mending that particular relationship–her mother is a piece of work, honestly. I would love for her mother to change, to grow, to mend things… but I’m not sure I see that happening.

Basically, we see Tessa growing into her own and also morphing into the product of those she has surrounded herself in. Our poor girl has so much toxic in her life going beyond Hardin; it makes me sad to see her struggle so often.

Many people in her life (with the exception of Landon who is an angel) seem to be a pro at taking away her voice and choices. It’s only a matter of time until she loses herself and it’s so sad. Tessa Young is sympathetic even in her most flawed moments.

Moving on to Hardin…

Well. He is as insufferable as ever.

Let me explain: our leading man is often mean spirited and cruel and in general is a bad boy cliche. He shows promise of growth time and time again only to take about seven steps backwards in a pile of dirt and in turn diminishes any strides he has made in bettering himself.

Move over, Christian Grey. I thought nothing could get any grosser than him but here we are.

The fact of the matter is, we do see why Hardin is the way he is. It’s an explanation, though, and not an excuse. I can’t see much development on his part in the end, which is unfortunate. Imagine–Hardin learning from his mistakes and fixes his past actions.

Is it even possible?

Hardin’s biggest saving grace in this book was that we got to see his interactions with his mother. He isn’t exactly kind but you see that he loves her quite a lot. Anna crafted their relationship wonderfully and I have to say, although she is only in the novel briefly, she is one of the only intelligent characters featured in After.

(Another pro: his budding friendship with Landon.)

As I said earlier, I didn’t mind Zed for much of the novel. I’m sad to see the cheap turn in this so-called-love-triangle and really hope he isn’t as bad of a guy as Hardin believes him to be. Frankly, Tessa needs to ditch both of them but we know this isn’t about to happen and I can’t say I’m that bothered by it.

I’m nervous to see what happens in the next book. We’re left with a massive cliffhanger–the reappearance of Tessa’s long lost father–and the possibility of Tessa leaving for Seattle when Hardin wants her to go to England with him. I thought the last two chapters were solid, though and I loved that Tessa went with Hardin when he got another tattoo.

Overall, it could have been better and it could have been worse.

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