I have had the opportunity to read a very good book recently. It's not paranormal, but you might want to check it out anyways, especially if you are a fan of The Hunger Games. The title of the book is After the Fear by Rosanne Rivers. This novel is set in a Dystopian world that is described by the author in a way that makes you feel like you're there. Before we jump head-first into the review, let's read the blurb and the excerpt.
You have not attended a Demonstration this month.
In Sola’s city, everyone obeys the rules. Stay away from the trigger cameras and regularly update your Debtbook, and you just might survive. But having to watch the way criminals are dealt with—murdered by Demonstrators in the Stadium—is a law Sola tries to avoid. When a charming Demonstrator kisses her at a party, however, she’s thrust into the Stadium and forced into the very role she despises.
Armed with only natural resourcefulness and a caring nature, Sola narrowly survives her first bout. Her small success means she’s whisked off to a training camp, where she discovers a world beyond the trigger cameras and monitoring—a world where falling in love with a killer doesn’t seem so terrible.
Yet life as a Demonstrator has no peace. Sola must train her way through twenty-five more Demonstrations before she can return home to her father. At the end of each battle, only one survivor remains.
Sola could face anyone in the Stadium . . . even a loved one.
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The low voice sends sharp impulses through me. I jolt up, trying to find purchase with my hands on the trampoline. They skid on the leaves, making my whole body bounce. After what seems like an age of making a fool of myself, the springs steady and I look out toward the voice. The outline of the Demonstrator’s jagged hair is silhouetted from the lights of the house. He stands at the edge of the trampoline, facing me.
‘You startled me,’ I tell him. Witty, I know, but it’s all I can think of.
His eyes are on me once again, and I get that same gasping excitement he stirred in me earlier. I try, unsuccessfully, to lean back onto the trampoline with grace.
‘Aye, but you scared me too,’ he replies.
‘How on earth did I scare you?’ I hope he doesn’t notice the wobble in my voice or that my breathing hasn’t calmed yet. He moves around the trampoline, getting closer.
‘Well.’ The leaves rustle once more. The trampoline dips slightly. Risking a glimpse over, I see he’s leaning both elbows on the surface, palms cupping his face. ‘I saw you jumping around with all those leaves and I thought you were being attacked by some sort of bush monster.’
I laugh a little too hard.
‘So you came out here to rescue me then?’
‘Hmm. Unfortunately, I came out here to rescue myself.’
Ah, Coral and her gaggle. No doubt they’re scouring the house to try and find him right now.
‘She’s not that bad really,’ I say. I don’t know why I’m defending her, but I know how horrible it is to like someone only for them to dismiss me.
‘I think you’re being kind, Sola.’
He remembers my name. The sound of it in his voice makes my skin tingle, like every hair on my body is jumping up. For some reason, I’m not even surprised that he’s nothing like the other people from Victor. I wonder what they say about our city where he’s from.
Dylan pats the surface beside me.
I swallow and shuffle over. Suddenly I don’t know what to do with my body. How was I lying before? Everything seems unnatural; nothing fits into place like I want it to. Thankfully, he doesn’t lie down, just sits up near my head, his legs dangling over the edge. He brings with him the faint smell of dirt and metal. I sense his eyes are on mine so I look directly ahead, acting as though I don’t notice.
‘Grand night, isn’t it?’ he asks. I keep my gaze upwards. I can’t believe a killer is making small talk with me. Then again, he doesn’t act like a killer. Ignoring him would be rude.
‘It would be nicer if we could see the stars.’
‘Aye. You’re not wrong there.’ He tilts his head back so I take the opportunity to glance over. His wild brown hair sprouts in layered tufts, sticking out in an adorable way. His cheekbones are high, his jaw set, and those deep blue eyes look through such long, thin eyelashes. His only imperfection is what looks like a twice-broken nose. Unfairly, it makes him more beautiful.
Without warning, he brings his gaze back to me. I let my lips part in surprise, unable to take my eyes from his. Maybe it’s the leaves which surround us, the night which hides us away, but when he whispers that maybe one day he could show me the stars, I close my eyes.
His lips are on mine.
I don’t have time to think, I just move my mouth gently. He tastes sweet and bitter all at once.
With a jolt in my stomach, my senses kick in. What on earth am I doing? One sweet line and I’m kissing a stranger? I push him off me in a violent movement and sit up straight, my breathing quick and shallow.
His eyes dart around wildly. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was—you just looked so—ah. I’m sorry.’ He grabs the edge of the trampoline and pushes himself off in a fluid motion, before turning to me once more. His mouth opens. Nothing comes out. Eventually, he runs his hand through his hair and hurries back inside.
For the second time tonight, I’ve been left alone. But for the first time in my life, I’ve been kissed. I touch my bottom lip. When I look up, I swear I see two stars twinkling in the distance.
The stars move. An outline solidifies and Coral steps out from the shadows. She stares at me with eyes so narrow all of the light I saw before disappears.
A moment later she stalks back inside the house and it’s as if I had never seen her at all. Yet I know I’m going to pay for my kiss with the Demonstrator.
A million different words jam into my mind, vying for my attention. Demonstrator, killer, murderer, sweet-talker, party-goer, rule breaker?
Or maybe, a strange part of my brain murmurs, just Dylan.
This book was on my mind so much as I read it; I actually had a dream about it.
Let's start with the characters:
Sola is likable, caring and smart. She makes some mistakes along the way, but that just shows the reader that no one is perfect.
Dylan is also likable. He's strong and we don't always know what is going on in his head, but we know he always has a plan. His character is also very consistent and he's unlike any other hero I've read. I love it.
Coral is the antagonist. Obviously, we hate her from the get go and she proves to be evil over and over again.
As for the rest of the characters, they all seemed very real.
The story and pace:
The story is unique. Even though it is similar to The Hunger Games in some ways, it's also very different. A world of politics and secrets is behind the scenes and we occasionally get a glimpse at it through Coral's father and Shepherd Fines.
The twists that happen both in Sola's life and in the demonstrations are creative and well-thought out by the author. There is so much going on, but the way that Rosanne Rivers writes makes it easy to understand.
Pacing was perfect. The story moved along at just the right speed.
I thought the writing was great. One thing that threw me off at first was the use of single quotes instead of double, but I quickly got used to that and didn't even notice it by the end of the book. The romance scenes were great, the action scenes were great and everything in between was great!
I did foresee part of the ending, but I feel that it was the only ending for this book. There were a few pieces of the puzzle that kept me guessing and made the ending very enjoyable
Overall, I would give this book 5 stars. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes dystopian, romance, action, science fiction or books like The Hunger Games.