After book review: book 1 of the reading challenge
After by Anna Todd is the first book I’ve read for this challenge, so let’s dive right into my review.
I think that After might be my guilty pleasure. The writing wasn’t good at all, that’s true, but somehow this book was so incredibly addicting!
The book is 592 pages long and I’ve read it in two days; it was like binge-watching a Netflix series.
The characters, the story, there’s so much going on and I just couldn’t stop reading, I’ve devoured every single chapter!
I will try my best to make this book review of After without any spoilers, so you can read this if you’re interested in reading this book, or maybe you’ve already read it and want to know my thoughts on this book! Before I begin, I just have to say that Anna Todd seems like a lovely person and I’ve got so much respect for what she accomplished with her writing, I mean, she turned this into a five-book series and two films!! And I’m sure there are people who love this series and especially Hardin, and I won’t blame them, the first book alone was already super addictive. However, I do have some thoughts on this book… 🙂
Summary of After by Anna Todd (no spoilers)
At the beginning of this book, Tessa is in a relationship with a very kind, but kind of boring guy: Noah. She does everything her mother says, she’s a dedicated student, she’s very fond of planning, she doesn’t drink and doesn’t party. Her relationship with her boyfriend is not passionate, but he’s very kind and she can rely on him.
When she’s about to start her life as a freshman in college and she meets her new roommate, Steph, she’s shocked. Steph’s got bright red hair, tattoos, hangs out with a lot of guys and is into drinking and partying. Her mother wants her to change dorms immediately, but Tessa doesn’t want to cause drama and becomes friends with her roommate.
Eventually, Steph convinces her to attend a party at a fraternity house. The party turns out to be terrible for Tessa; everyone is drinking, they are playing truth or dare (like, the sexual version of it) and Hardin, one of Steph’s friends, is being mean to her for no reason.
Even though she doesn’t like the way Hardin acts towards her, there’s a passion that grows between them. She’s got a boyfriend back home, but she keeps falling for Hardin. His touch makes her weak and makes her forgive anything he said. As their story progresses, there’s a lot of drama, uncertainty, fighting, sexual scenes, passion and love between them. Then, at the end of the book, there’s a plot twist revealing something so disturbing that I gasped as I read it. (If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean).
My thoughts after reading After
As I said before, this book is like my guilty pleasure. The story was interesting, I loved the drama and it was super addicting. However, I also have to say: it’s not the best-written book, the relationship between Hardin and Tessa is a bit toxic, and the original version on Wattpad is actually a One Direction fanfiction story, where Hardin Scott is called Harry Styles (which kind of makes me feel like I’m reading a book that’s intended for teens that are dreaming of a relationship with Harry Styles). The writing style and storyline is also very Wattpad-like: There’s “the bad boy” and “the innocent girl” and there’s a lot of sexual stuff in this book. I mean, you can clearly tell it’s a Wattpad novel, and that was something that kind of annoyed me; it was a bit too predictable. At the same time though, the ending had me shocked.
I also think some women might not like the fact that the dominance of Hardin is being romanticized in this book. I had no problems with it, I think it was interesting and brought a lot of passion into their relationship. At times, however, I thought he was just being childish, unreasonable or even a bit creepy. His jealousy and possessiveness over Tessa were a bit extreme too, but I also think that that just shapes his character. He’s actually quite insecure and is constantly afraid she might leave him.
What I liked about this story, is that Tessa gets more of a backbone; she stands up for herself, even more so than at the beginning of the book. She also learns to stop overthinking everything, and to stop letting expectations and her mother dominate her life. She learns what it is to feel alive, which is beautiful 🙂
Hardin learns how to deal with his past, to give his father a second chance and to be less violent. He also gets better in expressing his feelings.
What I’ve learned from this book
I think we can all agree that their relationship isn’t very healthy. He’s being dishonest, over-protective, jealous, controlling and unreasonable. She’s been too naïve, too forgiving and even though she stands up for herself when he’s being mean, the next day she would let him touch her again.
Despite this, I understand why she feels attracted to him. He’s handsome, attentive, a bit dark, passionate and confident, and being attracted to that doesn’t necessarily mean that Tessa is weak or lacks self-respect. She’s got her own goals and is working very hard for it, she knows what she wants in life and stands up for herself when someone speaks nastily to her.
What I’ve learned from After is that you shouldn’t trust people this fast and give up everything for a guy. Hahah, okay, I already knew that but still, I think that’s the biggest lesson you can get out of this book, and it was a nice reminder for me. Tessa completely trusted Hardin, knowing him only for a couple of months, and look where that got her… It turned out that everyone had been lying to her the whole time, even Hardin, who “loved her the most”.
I have to say, I can be quite naïve too; I always like to think that people have good intentions. Why would they treat me wrong if I’m being nice to them? This “experience” (I’ve read it and felt all the emotions Tessa must have felt, so I experienced it too) was a reminder for me, you just never know what people might be doing behind your back.
Overall, it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was super addicting. This book actually left it’s mark on me, and I think I’ll be hooked to the After series for a while now 😀 What made it even more interesting is that there were a lot of references to literary classics, like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations. That was nice 🙂
I haven’t yet read the other four books of the After series, but I can’t wait to read After we collided ! I think I will read that one on Wattpad though… It’s more or less the same story (only some names are different) and… Well, idk if I really want to spend around 50 euro on the books of After if I can read them for free on Wattpad instead. I mean it’s addicting and I want to know what happens next, but then again… The writing isn’t very good and it’s too Wattpad-like in my opinion. Somehow though, I am addicted to her books, and hopefully the writing gets better in After we collided! 🙂
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What do you think about their relationship?
Do you think Hardin actually loves her or is that just a lie?