Amelia has wandered untold years, lost and lonely, in the mysterious hereafter. After countless hours screaming, praying for someone to hear, she's finally given up hope -- until she meets Joshua. After saving him from the same river that took her own life, Amelia is shocked to discover this unassuming teenage boy can see and hear her. Was it his near-fatal brush with her own tragic fate that forged the bond between them? Or something darker? Unfortunately, finding the answer may cost Amelia her soul.
In Hereafter, Tara Hudson crafts a haunting tale of star-crossed romance. The novel opens with a gut-wrenching bang, reliving Amelia's last moments. The horror only grows as readers experience the loss and confusion of her aimless wanderings in the afterlife. Her aching loneliness rings true in her voice, making readers feel for her lost life and tragic early death. Fortunately, things brighten for Amelia when Joshua enters the scene. Joshua brings with him a breath of fresh air, his charm and sensitivity a refreshing change from the usual brooding arrogance of current YA heroes. This warm, kind teenager will steal readers' hearts from the start.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Amelia. Though her plight is heartbreaking and readers will cheer for her unexpected romance, she is frustrating as a heroine. Amelia is timid, passively sitting by and wondering why this amazing, living boy takes any notice of her. It would have been nice to see her take some initiative in their relationship, keeping them on even footing rather than waiting for Joshua to take the lead. She also seemed rather oblivious at times, several steps behind the reader on the road to discovery. The poor girl spends most of the novel trying to learn the rules of being a ghost -- but is always slow to make obvious connections, and ultimately many of her questions remain unanswered. Hudson's take on the afterlife is thought-provoking, and I hope to learn more about the supernatural surprises in the sequel.
Nevertheless, together the young lovers make for a endearing romance -- which is the focus and highlight of the novel. Though it moves at an unrealistic, whirlwind pace, their relationship is simultaneously tender and intense, filled with moments that will make readers swoon. That is truly what this novel is all about -- love triumphing over death. The sheer impossibility of their romance adds a hint of urgency to the bittersweet tale, making their story all the more poignant.
The villains of the piece round out this unearthly tale. Hudson crafts characters readers will love to hate. Eli, Amelia's ghostly mentor and enemy, is utterly unpredictable. His almost manic personality keeps both Amelia and readers on their toes -- it's impossible to tell what game he's playing or whose side he's on -- making for quite a few heart-pounding, head-spinning encounters. Joshua's family is also a welcome addition to Amelia's lonely existence. Their easy familiarity throws into sharp relief just how much she has lost, while the antagonism of certain members proves a constant threat to the young couple's happiness. From start to finish, Hereafter will keep readers in a state of delicious suspense and ominous dread.Rating:
Disclosure: I received an advance galley from the publisher via NetGalley. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hit stores on Tuesday. Click here to purchase Hereafter by Tara Hudson.
Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge and Teen Book Scene Tours.