I had heard some buzz around this title, and the premise looked interesting despite the ‘fan fiction’ inspiration. After is the story of a young girl, leaving home for University and real freedom for the first time in her life, and just how she deals with the new experiences. While dancing that line between teen-appropriate and new adult, I’m putting this one firmly in the teen read category: our heroine is a teen, although a very sheltered one, and she does encounter many issues that will face new college students no matter their backgrounds.
Tessa is experiencing many firsts: her first extended time away from home, her first opportunity to socialize with the kids she wasn’t allowed to in high school, even her first crush. As one would expect, a new place equals a new approach to life, and she is determined to revamp her own image.
Tessa’s roommate Steph is just that sort of person Tessa wants to be friends with: a bit brash and wholly open, Steph is living life with all of the associated opportunities including partying. When Tessa encounters Hardin, the game changes. Hardin is stereotypical bad boy: tattoos, a touch of a selfish approach to life and a no-relationship policy. The girls he chases are worldly, or pretending to be, they don’t challenge his behavior or his emotions, and he just slides through taking what he wants.
But Tessa was raised to believe more in her own worth, even as she doesn’t always hold to those lessons. A bit tentative at first as she is gaining comfort with her new more open and daring personality, there is a core of sweetness and ‘who could hurt this innocent kitten’ air around her. Even Hardin sees it, despite his initial inability to deal with the emotions that Tessa unearths.
And they bicker, and fight, Tessa isn’t always treated well or even remotely honestly by Hardin. Believe me, there were times I wanted to shake her, or hope that Steph would step up and smack her. Hardin runs so hot and cold throughout the story, with him opening up a little bit then slamming the door shut and becoming the worst example of boy or friend possible. Yet, Tessa is tenacious: perhaps too much so, as she offers him chance after chance right to the end.
Elizabeth Louise narrated this story, and I’ve had several encounters with her work. With a performing voice that becomes Tessa, and some tone and delivery changes for other characters, you start to build a visual picture of Tessa, and you cannot help but feel her confusion, fear and even heartache. Clear and concise, the text as written does start readers on an emotional roller coaster, the performance adds the shake and sudden stomach in your throat drops that simply enforce the emotion.
Short chapters and an easy to read text allow the emotions and characters to come forward and take over the story, and while the overwhelming Romeo and Juliet feel is screaming that no good can come of the relationship, the book is entertaining and engaging with a twist at the end that demands more of the story.
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration 5 Story 3
Author: Anna Todd
Series: After #1
Also in this series: After We Collided
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Narrator: Elizabeth Louise
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 21 October 2014
Audio Length: 16 Hours: 30 minutes
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Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.
But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.
But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessashould hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.
He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?
Unless…could this be love?
There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER ... Life will never be the same.
See the After Series on GoodReads
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.