Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

Book Details
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Paperback, 384 Pages
2011, Luna
ISBN: 0373803362

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization.

Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.

For the Beaters are out there.

And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world….

I love zombie novels and Aftertime is just that. The Beaters in Aftertime are zombies, and what I loved most about this book is that there is an explanation as to why they came about. The world in Aftertime was post-apocalyptic well before the Beaters were created. In trying to save the people of the United States, the government screwed up, sending seeds for blueleaf mixed with the kaysev seeds. Kaysev seeds grow into plants that contained all human dietary requirements. Blueleaf causes an illness that eventually turns people into flesh-eating monsters.

Another thing I really enjoyed about Aftertime is the idea of a community that thrives due to people's vices. We often see criminal types making up the majority of survivors in post-apocalyptic societies, but the focus is usually on their violence. In Aftertime there is a community which caters to alcoholics, drug addicts and those looking for prostitution. I was impressed by the scope of the operation as well as with the creation of it. In a world such as this, why wouldn't there be a significant portion of the population looking for escape and oblivion? It was very realistic and made me want to see something like it in all zombie tainted societies.

I had a bit of a problem with Cass. She's a recovering alcoholic searching for her 3 year old daughter. Before the apocalypse, Ruthie, her daughter, was living with Cass's mother and stepfather. Cass takes her daughter back, only to have something happen and lose her again. She can't remember. Yup, amnesia. As Cass searches and searches, her memory slowly begins to return. The memories eventually become a large part of the story, but the bits and pieces of information are revealed way too slowly and the first half of the story drags because of it.

Cass is a hard to like character. She joins up with Smoke as she searches for Ruthie and a romance of sorts begins. It's not romantic - it's not meant to be - but it's understandable given Cass's personality. She's cynical to the point of annoyance. She's lived a hard life of alcoholism and its resulting promiscuity. I've got no problem with that. I do have a problem with trying to root for her. Should she get her daughter back? Yes. Do I like her as a person? Absolutely not. She's cold and honestly I think I would have liked her better back when she was drunk and slutty.

The world in Aftertime is fantastic. The different groups of people who survive and they way they live is deep and thoroughly interesting. The background as to how the world, including the zombies, came about is wonderful and much appreciated. Everything about this book is outstanding, if only Cass had been more likable and her amnesia hadn't been so drawn out. I just couldn't love Aftertime since I hated the main character.


Sophie Littlefield's

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