Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Very little has been going on in my life recently – certainly nothing that would be worth blogging about – and I think posting about German towns two days in a row may be overkill (plus looking for and uploading the photos takes so long. I can’t be bothered with that again already! ;-))
However, when I am in the mood for blogging I won’t let a little thing like my lack of a life stop me. Here’s a review of a book that I read at the end of 2012.

English: Open book icon
Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

From the back cover: There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there…

Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and rush. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.

Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

I bought this book after having read and enjoyed Sister by the same author last year. Amazon recommended it to me, the description sounded interesting, and so I thought “why not?”.

First of all, I feel I should warn you that the majority of the book is written from the perspective of someone who is in a coma and having some kind of out-of-body experience. You find this out on the very first page of the book, so it’s not too much of a spoiler (I hope). I think it’s something you should know, though, before reading the book. If you’re not the kind of person who can suspend your belief and accept that someone who  isn’t even awake can still experience what is going on then this is not the book for you. Personally, I quite liked this aspect. It makes the book more than just another thriller (not that I have anything against conventional thrillers – I like them! But a bit of originality never goes amiss).

The style of writing takes a while to get used to. The story is told in the present tense and the second person with the narrator (Grace) talking to her husband, Mike, who cannot actually hear her, which seems a bit odd. It didn’t take me long to become accustomed to it (and work out who “you” and “I” were) though and after that I really enjoyed the book. I can imagine people might get irritated at Grace – surely no mother is as perfect as she makes her self out to be? And she doesn’t actually seem to know any of the people in her life that well. To me, though, her flaws just made her seem real, and throughout the books she does realise that she has been judgemental in the past and accknowledges that maybe what she sees isn’t always what’s actually happening.

The book is, for the most part, a mystery/thriller and the main question – as stated on the back of the book – is who started the fire at the school? Quite early on it becomes clear that the fire was deliberate, and the police are called in to find out who it was that wanted to harm Grace’s family. This aspect is handled very well, in my opinion. There are many twists and turns and while I had many theories as to who done it, in the end none of them were correct! I was quite surprised when the culprit was revealed.

The start of the book is quite slow – it takes quite a while before the police discover anything really significant – but it managed to keep me interested enough to keep reading anyway. And once the action does start it just keeps on coming! I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite book of all time, but it kept me engrossed all the way to the end and I was quite disappointed when it finished. I would recommend it.

And in case you don’t think this one’s for you, here are some other book reviews I’ve written in the past. Maybe you’ll find something to read there:

Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins (Photo credit: Jeni Rodger)

Three book recommendations

A review of Delusions of Grandma by Carrie Fisher

A review of The Door in the Lack by Nancy Butts

Some of my favourite children’s books