Review: After Ever by Jillian Eaton

Title: After Ever (After #1)
Author: Jillian Eaton
Published: June 12, 2012
Pages: 196
Series: yes
Source: received

Goodreads Summary: For sixteen-year-old Winnie Coleman, dying is the least of her worries. Between coming to terms with her mother’s unexpected death, trying to think up new and inventive ways to break up her father and Girlfriend #3, and keeping her brother from chewing off his fingers, she has her hands full. Courtesy of a thin patch of ice and failed swimming lessons, all of that changes in the blink of an eye. 

In death Winnie will find the answers that eluded her in life, and a whole slew of other questions she never thought to ask. Like why is she stuck with Sam for a guide? Sure, he’s funny and cute in a geeky sort of way, but he wears sweater vests… and loafers. For a girl who has tattoos on her face and glue in her hair, it’s not exactly the best match up.
But when Sam is taken and his very existence threatened, Winnie must make the ultimate choice between cowardice and courage. Faithlessness and loyalty. Family... and love.

I was so astonished by how well-rounded 'After Ever' was considering it being under the average novel length. You're taken on a complete whirlwind of a journey in Winnie's afterlife or what we learn to be called just the "After" and you'll come out the other end.. intrigued.

Already from the beginning Eaton does a great job of keeping you on your toes. Even though you know Winnie will die, you're not sure when or if she's not already dead or what is going on. I was confused, in a good way, while reading.

I didn't particularly like Winnie at the very start of the book - she was rude and snide, even selfish. But as you get a little further into the story you'll learn the cause of everything, you'll learn that since Winnie's mom passed away no one has been the same, and Winnie is no exception. 
I found myself coming to an understanding as to why Winnie behaved the way she did and I got it. I also liked Winnie's internal conversations with herself - I felt like it was an extra window into showing who she really was and what she really felt.

The After was pretty fascinating. It's one of those things when you just cannot comprehend how the author, how a person, has thought of it all. It was complex yet totally something I could envision and was envisioning. 
Having a guide, the different levels, the Jump Doors, the Unknowns, going back to the past, getting lost in memories, the Solace Room, attending your own funeral?! I was really impressed. It was all so well constructed.

Part of me thought Winnie (or just anyone) should've been more frustrated or agitated when finding themselves in the freaky, overwhelming world of the After. 
However, somehow Eaton had me believe this was how even I would've reacted if finding myself in the After - asking tons of questions, trying to figure everything out. She had me convinced.

Sam Trent - lanky, kind of cute, sort of geeky boy. And then Eaton goes and gets me all confused when it's mentioned he has a six pack and that he's aware that he has one. 
Jokes (or not) aside, Winnie and Sam both grew in my eyes. They were less common main characters - rebellious dreadlocks girl/sweater-vest-wearing boy - which can either go really wrong or really right, in my opinion, and at the end of the day I did like them.

When the plot is revealed the questions I had about Winnie and why this, why that, were answered and simultaneously convincing me how good the following installments will be. You just know something big is planned to happen.

It wasn't until the end that I felt the book had been too short, or the ending just too abrupt. After putting down 'After Ever' I came to the conclusion that I could live with it, but I can see why more people would be bothered by it than not. Though a good cliffhanger is necessary for a first installment and as of right now I do think I'll read the second one.

'After Ever' was a new, original take on a story about afterlife. I've never read anything like it before and I believe many will find themselves engrossed in it. Thank you to Jillian Eaton for sending me a copy!

*UPDATE: since this review an additional final chapter has been added to the Kindle version of 'After Ever'!


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