Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Published: June 7th 2011 by HarperTeen
Genre(s): Young adult, Paranormal romance, Mystery
Pages: 404 pgs.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won’t want to miss.
This is it: the story that inspired me to start a book blog to write down my feelings on the things I’ve read. This book was just so exceptional that I felt an utter compulsion to do so. Before you stop me, I do not mean exceptional in the sense that this book was good; no, this book was exceptionally bad. I often found myself wondering if the manuscript had even gone through the hands of an editor before making it to print. However, I’m not one to pick up a book to never finish it, so I trudged through to the end.
Let’s be real, anyone would be hard-pressed to string together a plot from these 407 pages. If I were to outline one for the sake of this review, it would be very simple: our phantom protagonist, Amelia, saves mortal Joshua from drowning in the very river that claimed her life. Very soon after meeting, they fall madly in love, despite Joshua’s status as a Seer — a mortal who can see, touch and communicate with the dearly departed. Meanwhile, an evil ghost has his own nefarious plot for Amelia’s afterlife.
There’s no real action or driving force for any of the character’s decisions beyond “I want thing x, so I’m gonna get thing x.” Amelia and Joshua accomplish very little apart from when and how she died. Let’s not forget Amelia’s new “barrier” power that’s vaguely reminiscent of Bella Swan’s vampire power at the end of Breaking Dawn. Everything just feels so extraneous, as if it was written by a teenager from Gaia Online creating word vomit just to fill space so they can be considered an “Elite” role player. Also, I have a really hard time believing that these two have fallen absolutely head-over-heels in love with each other in the span of literally three days after meeting.
Characterization, as expected, is also lacking. Amelia doesn’t really have a personality at all; she really just lets things happen to her. Furthermore, how does she just magically know advanced Calculus for one scene, then not have that knowledge made useful — or even acknowledged — for the rest of the book? Or how about the fact that apparently Amelia’s been wandering around her town for the past ten years or so and not once did something interesting happen to her in that entire time? Joshua’s characterization, too, is just as infuriating. He’s described as being a school athlete at least once, maybe twice, but, again, it’s never brought up again after that. All Joshua seems to do is grin at Amelia. As a side-bar, if I never read an author describing someone’s eyes as midnight blue again, it’ll be too soon; I lost count after the eleventh or so mention of his eye color.
Finally, our dear author can’t seem to adhere to certain crucial elements of ghost lore throughout the entirety of the book. Amelia, despite being dead and a non-corporeal being, is often described as having a pulse, having breath, and even shedding physical tears a few times. Oh, but there are a few choice times where she remembers that she doesn’t need to breathe, due to her state of being. Amelia, literally, can’t do anything. She can’t open doors, she can’t move things, she can’t turn pages of a book. I get that, according to ghost lore, the dead can’t touch things, but for some reason, Hudson has made the conscious decision to not allow her ghosts to pass through objects. This leaves a lot of room for awkward scenes where Joshua has no choice but to hold the door open for her, but if he had any self-awareness at all, he’d know that he must look completely ridiculous holding the door open for someone who isn’t there by those who can’t see ghosts. I really just do not understand the choices made in this novel.
All in all, I definitely will not be visiting the second book in this series. I unfortunately fell victim to the beautiful cover and intriguing blurb, but I’ve definitely learned my lesson: always look at the Goodreads reviews before checking a book out from my local library.
Amazing Pug Scale: