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.
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Smoothly blending the focus between the romance and the ghost angle, Hereafter is a beautifully written new take on the afterlife. Pulling the reader in early and making them feel as though they are right there with Amelia, the story has a lulling flow to it. With an amazing love interest, great world building, and fantastic execution, this one feeds both the romantic and plot desires of the reader.
The Extended Version:
Amelia is presented in an unusual way, in that from the start, she remembers very little about her self. The unfolding of all this is handled perfectly, happening at a pace that both she and the reader can appreciate and handle. She is strong in subtle ways, and weak in some more glaring ways, but both play into her overall personality. Hudson has navigated the obstacles between making this a fully dimensional character from the start while still having things hidden and unknown smoothly and beautifully. Her entire character progression was so well done, and there is such a clear difference in her mindset and behaviors by the end of the book in response to everything that happened.
Joshua comes in early and has a strong, steady presence, with an array of lovable qualities about him. There wasn’t unnecessary fanfare in regards to him, or his responses to things, and he played a huge role in the overall plot apart from simply being the romantic lead. His personality is as fully fleshed out as Amelia’s, growing stronger as things continue in a very realistic way. The reader also gets to know his family, which helps not only progress the plot but build his character and background, and Hudson plays all of it out perfectly.
Eli, too, is a well done character, with his motivations clearly portrayed but still holding enough of a sympathy aspect that he isn’t completely hated. Cocky and self assured, but still able to be pushed off his pedestal, Eli is enjoyable to read about and amusing in nature, but still holds this undercurrent of danger that is both appealing and appalling. His entire role in the book is also explained at just the right moments, keeping the reader guessing until the very end.
The romance is a very huge focus for this book, but never once did it feel forced or there just because the author felt like it had to be. Watching Amelia fall for Joshua was fun and endearing to read, making me fall for him quickly and root for both early on. Much of the plot is a result of their budding romance, but Hudson still gives focus on other things when it’s needed, and without making only their feelings for each other be the driving factor. From awkward to sweet to sensual, this couple covers the range and does it with grace.
The worldbuilding in this one is fantastic, so smoothly integrated it’s hard to actually explain how it happens. Hudson’s new take on the everafter is new and intriguing, pulling in the notions of heaven and hell just right without being a turn off or preachy. With small things that end up playing a huge role later, and big things that play an even bigger role, the effort and attention to detail Hudson put into this book is clear and fully appreciated. The plot, too, is phenomenally well done, having a great pace that really moves the romance along without it being rushed, but also gives plenty of attention to everything else that is going on, especially with the actual hereafter thing.
Closing out an already amazing book is the writing, that is almost lulling with how well done and gorgeous it is. Rapt with vivid imagery but never once taking away from everything else to get that description across, Hereafter easily pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go. The well done characters, the sweet, tender and endearing romance, and the plot itself all pull together for one fantastic read.
Source: Received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publication Date: June 7, 2011