Hereafter (Hereafter, Book 1)
by Tara Hudson
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Net Galley
3.5 / 5 Stars
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.
Hereafter is a differentl take on what could have been a mundane love story between a ghostly girl and a human boy. With haunting language and beautifully written prose, Hereafter goes beyond the mundane and gives us a story about forbidden love that is interesting and explores human emotions in a way that really touches you and makes you hope that all will end well for everyone.
Amelia is a ghost haunted by her past; it's a past that slowly comes back to her in flashes after she saves Joshua, becoming her guardian angel of sorts. As she makes sense of the flashbacks and comes to realize what exactly happened the night she died, she must find the fortitude to face the horror of what is around her and what it is with which she is dealing. I found Amelia's character endearing as she slowly comes to realize exactly what she is and the powers she has developed. I found this an interesting dichotomy to the vulnerable and sensitive side of her nature when all she wants to do is be a normal girl. I would have liked Amelia to be more aggressive and stronger than she was, and maybe a little less attached to Joshua and needing him so much to do everything for her, but maybe I am expecting too much. I was not crazy about Eli however, as I supposed he was the resident bad guy, but wondered if the author vacillated with her ideas about him in the end as his character seemed underdeveloped and confusing. I rather wish there was more 'bad' in this book as it would have made things more interesting.
At first, I wasn't really sure of this novel and it took me several chapters to become absorbed by the events that were happening around Amelia and Joshua. And I found the same thing happened towards the end, where the events just seemed to run their course and didn't really live up to the potential that was possible. I did find myself completely enthralled in the middle, totally enthralled by Ms. Hudson's ability to weave emotions around a predictable story, and it was those emotions that really drew me in. The only point that really turned me off, as anyone who knows me well, is that I am not a fan of the 'love at first sight' idea and the deep, electrifying emotions that go with only knowing someone for a few hours. This is usually a turn-off for me, and while the scenes were beautifully written, I didn't buy into them. I often wondered what it was about Joshua, a cute and popular boy at school, that would drive him into wanting to spend time alone with a ghost. We never do learn a lot about him and it is rather frustrating, to be honest. I also wondered what happened to Joshua's grandma and her coven, and how that was really relevant to the story; There seemed little point to them at the end, and it was the grandma I found truly fascinating. Tough and with the ability to see ghosts, she would have been a formidable character if developed properly.
Hereafter was an interesting, if rather predictable read, but it was definitely Ms. Hudson's writing ability that really impressed me with this novel. I wanted to like this book more than I did, but I couldn't bring myself to do so as the events and the characters just seemed unfinished and lacked polish. I will definitely read the next novel in this series in the hope that Ms. Hudson will develop the characters a bit more, and make them a bit more interesting so I can connect with them on a deeper level. That being said, Hereafter is still a fun read and I recommend it as such to anyone looking for something on a lighter level.