Review: After the Ending by Fairleigh and Pogue

After the Ending by Fairleigh and PogueThe Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.

When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them, but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was wrong. My name is Dani, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another.

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Review

I finished After the Ending just before nodding off to sleep and woke up with a touch of confusion. Looking around inquisitively, attempting to get my bearings on what could be causing it, I finally realised the story itself had left me somewhat unfocused and not in a good way.

How often do you come across a post-apocalyptic story based just after world-devastating events and following the lives of adults? I don’t usually and I’m always perusing PA and dystopian titles. When reading the synopsis of After the Ending, I knew I wanted to read a story about someone who had survived such a calamity and the hardships they had to face afterwards, while not being an adolescent. No offence to YA, I read quite a bit of it, but sometimes it’s just nice to have a genre and premise geared towards an older demographic.

When I started reading I first thought ‘Yeah, this is going to be good’, but then the emails began. The whole story is told via Zoe and Dani, both in first person, and the switch is noticeable as the date and name of the character is always at the beginning of each chapter. I did expect to be going between the two girls, but I didn’t expect them to be keeping contact via the Internet. I tried to keep an open mind in the beginning as I’ve read books that switched between characters with letters before, but after awhile I began to notice a few problems with the Internet exchange.

For starters it lasted far too long. Granted at some point it stopped, for reasons I’m not sharing, but when the phone and power all go, why is the Internet still on? This is a question I asked myself after about forty pages in and I figured other readers would surely ask the same question. I even went as far as to tell two of my housemates to see what they thought and it confused them too.

Secondly, I just… I hate, absolutely hate, repetition in a story unless it’s completely necessary. Emails would have been fine; I would have been able to get past the whole internet-being-on-for-so-long problem if it was not for how the emails were written. Each chapter was broken up with emails and the character’s narrative, which is fine, but you’d follow what was going on with one of them and then they’d email the other person and tell them! Why? Why do I have to read a summarised version, interspersed with emoticons and gushing or freaking out, of events that just took place? Events that I’m completely aware of and are still fresh in my memory? WHY?

Sometimes the emails were used as a way to catch you up, which is great, but that wasn’t something that happened often or even during the whole email. Then the emails stopped and I really started to get into the story. Up until that point I was struggling at times, but I liked Dani’s story arc from the cessation of the emails and couldn’t get enough. It turned into this X-Men mutation come post-world ending with hints of a conspiracy. How could I not love that? I love the X-MEN!

And then… the emails started again… That’s when After the Ending began to utterly lose it for me. It makes me not want to visit my inbox for a week. Then the romance began in earnest. There were some flirtations and attractions throughout, which of course I don’t mind because relationships happen all the time, but by the end of it I felt like I was reading a different story. There were some interesting things going on with side characters and abilities, but the focus was mainly sex between two couples. At the risk of sounding like a prude (which I am not, I just went to Sexpo recently for crying out loud and was given free penis candles that I can’t wait to put on a birthday cake), there was far too much focus on people’s bits, nudity, and getting it on. Seriously, I felt like the story had switched from a somewhat promising start to a PA series to a romance with PA elements.

The ending was what gets me the most. What a cliffhanger! I can’t stand it! Between the emails, not really caring about Zoe’s story, the focus on sexual encounters, and then the ending, this is why I have been left confused, CONFOUNDED! I really, really want to know what happens next, but I don’t know if I can tolerate the emails or anymore of the romantic encounters. I JUST DON’T KNOW. I think I need a brain enema or something…

If you read, or have read, After the Ending, I would love to know if you have been as confounded as me, if you’ll be continuing on with the series, or if you were blown away by it. I think there are some great ideas floating around in this story and even though the execution of it doesn’t suit me, there’s still that curiosity to find out more.

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Word on the street is I love guest posters. It’s true! If you’re interested in guest posting on BA, whether it’s book reviews or something else book related, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

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