Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

In the After

In the After

Demitria Lunette
Fiction
For ages 14 and up
HarperCollins, 2013   ISBN: 978-0062105455

Amy Harris is a pretty normal teenager. She worries about math homework and dating and thinks that her parents are “so clueless.” She is embarrassed by her father’s eco-conscious lifestyle and is resentful that her mother is such a workaholic. On the day when everything changes, Amy is at home alone watching the TV. The electricity flickers, but thanks to the fact that her house has solar power, the TV and appliances still work. On the screen Amy sees an image of a creature, a monster, and that is her first glimpse of the aliens.

   For a few days the TV and radio broadcasts continue and Amy learns that aliens have landed on Earth and that they are voracious predators that prey on humans. The aliens move so fast that it isn’t long before there are very few humans left. Some years ago Amy’s mother had an electric fence installed around their home because she needed to have a “secure area” to live in. Her work was highly sensitive and she needed to be able to protect the valuable documents that she brought home in the evenings. The fence and the solar panels end up saving Amy’s life. The electric fence keeps the aliens out, and the solar power makes it possible for her to have lights and fresh water and to be able to cook and refrigerate food. It is a life without her parents, who presumably perished soon after the arrival of “Them.”

   Of course, eventually Amy runs out of food and she has to go out to forage for some. She learns very quickly that the creatures have highly sensitive hearing, so she is always quiet. She also learns that they have poor night vision, so if she goes foraging at night and is silent and very careful she has a good chance of surviving.

   Amy’s builds a routine for herself and she lives in survival mode every moment of every day. She sees no one for weeks. Then, out of the blue she comes across a little girl who is alive. The toddler has clearly learned that she needs to be silent, and somehow she has survived. Amy takes the child, whom she calls Baby, back home with her. Together they create a sign language so that they never have to speak out loud to communicate. They never talk about Before, and focus instead on building a silent life in the After. For three years all goes as well as is possible under the circumstances.

   Then things start to change. Amy encounters another human, a girl called Amber. Persuaded by Baby, Amy brings Amber into their safe home only to have Amber betray them to a gang of people who force Amy and Baby out of their home and into the unsafe world. They are not on the run for long before they are found by some more humans who take Amy and Baby to a safe settlement called New Hope. To her amazement, Amy discovers that her mother survived the creature invasion and that she is the director of New Hope. Surely now, at last, Amy can build a new life for herself.

   In this extraordinary story the author takes her readers on a tension-filled adventure that is full of surprising plot twists. Just when you think you know what is going on, something happens that presents the reader with new problems and situations. It is fascinating to see how Amy changes over time, and how she learns how to cope when the world she lives in changes. 

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