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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Book Review: The World As We Know It Is Gone in “In The After”

Full, total and complete disclosure here: I love dystopia.  I also love zombies, vampires, aliens, and other unexpected creepy bad things that could end up in a dystopia.  If you manage to give me both in one book I am a very happy girl.  Put it in a Young Adult book and I’m yours.  With that in mind please understand that Demitria Lunetta now owns me.

Lunetta’s first book, In The After, hit shelves today and is hands-down my book of the summer.  The premise is pretty simple: the world is attacked by human-hungry creatures called Them and a teenager, Amy, manages to not get herself eaten.  She even manages to save a toddler girl she calls Baby and the two of them try to survive holed up in Amy’s home.  After a few years they are unexpectedly rescued and taken to one of the last colonies of survivors called New Hope.  It’s a place that promises safety, but it quickly proves to not be what it seems.

Image Credit: Demitria Lunetta

So we’ve got creepy bad things.  We’ve got a possible dystopia.  It’s Young Adult.  Enough to love right there, but Lunetta doesn’t just rest on a good hook.  The writing in this book is solid and even a few pages in I found myself fully invested in Amy, then Baby, and other characters that show up along the way.  Lunetta finds a way to take what seems to be a straightforward alien invasion story and twist it into something completely unique.  She also tackles the idea of human isolation and how people change when removed from each other.

There’s also the horror of losing everything familiar and comfortable to an unknown and yet visible, tangible threat.  The world Amy finds herself living in is one of complete silence by necessity.  The creatures (They) have incredible hearing so all sounds are like big neon arrows pointing out lunch.  Reading the story, even though the encounters are all very similar and become routine for Amy and Baby the suspense and fear never wears off.  The story simply does not lag.

Probably the absolute best thing about this book, however, is Amy herself.  Lunetta doesn’t give in and rely on tragedy and horror to make Amy relatable and human.  Instead she makes Amy a strong, self-reliant character who isn’t stained with cliché baggage or experiences.  When you read Amy you get a young woman who has seen Hell but still has her heart and priorities intact.  This is a rare thing in popular books, especially those geared towards the YA audience.  Amy isn’t the simpering Bella of Twilight.  It’s refreshing and it creates a sense of excitement for the reader.  You really want Amy to survive and more than that, thrive.

I’m going to be so impatient waiting for the sequel…

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