A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.
Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.
Title: After the Fall
Author: Kate Hart
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Farrar, Straus. & Giroux
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Length: 336 pages
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Literary Awards: N/A
Themes: consent, grief, romance, college, small towns
POV: Dual first-person
Where We Got It: Marisa bought it after hearing about it on goodreads and loaned it to me to see if I agreed with her. Spoilers: I did.
Marisa’s Cover Notes: Love the colors, but the image is kinda boring, I guess. It does connect to the plot, but I wish there was more emotion in it or a more concrete image from the story. This could be the cover of any random YA novel. (Usually I listen to music when I read, but this time I was watching TV “with” my mom, so no soundtrack.)
Technically I’m here to give the male perspective, I guess. This was originally Marisa’s review, but she wanted to know if being a guy changed my perception of the story and characters. A little bit, I guess, but not much.
I have two main complaints about this book. One, the pacing was all over the place because the author tried to stuff way too much stuff into one story without doing the enough build-up for it all. Either the romantic plot, the assault plot, the what am I doing after high school plot or the surprise twist would have been enough to carry the story on their own, especially given the several b-plots in the book. But all at once was too ambitious. I don’t think the author had the skill to pull it off, though some authors might have had.
My second issue is that the characters were all annoying as all heck, and I couldn’t really sympathize with any of the main characters. Maybe that’s because the author didn’t do a good enough job presenting their background?
I happen to agree with Marisa on both those points. Further, I think she agreed with me that the so-called “feminist” issues in the book were not handled well. The assault especially was believable, but the characters all responded way too after-school special to them. In fact, Marisa pointed out one line in the book was an almost perfect rip-off of the popular quote that girls aren’t vending machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out. I am 100% behind tackling these issues in YA. But I think it’s important to handle the issue in a way that comes off as a natural follow-up the the events of the story and also to not sound preachy.
There was a really-strong sense of authorial intrusion in the way the characters talked to Raychel about her assault. In particular one character was oddly flip-floppy in how strongly she pushed to present the assault as rape but then said reporting it was a waste of time. And this character did not feel like they were stepping into the narrative naturally. It felt very forced. I think that could turn off a lot of readers to the truths the author was trying to convey. I’ve seen this book compared to Courtney Summers, but it’s miles apart in the way the similar subject matter is handled. It was very disappointing.
I think what it comes down to is that this book was all over the place, and that made it hard to address any particular aspect of it with the kind of nuance the topics it covers deserved. It felt rather slow in the first half, and rushed in the second half, because the author couldn’t seem to decide what was the most important point and so she found herself with a lot of loose ends to tie up.
I think Nick’s right. If the author had picked three of the moderate to major themes/plots threads to focus on, she could have written a really good novel exploring those things. But as it is, the book just feels shallow in a lot of places. And I don’t think that gives it enough power to really drive home the author’s points to the audience. The premise is good, but the execution is severely lacking.
Conclusion: 61/100 (Author’s reach exceeds her grasp)
Premise: 8/10 (So much wasted potential)
Plot: 4/10 (Ugh? Ugh.)
Setting: 7/10 (Very solid, but could have used more development)
Main Character(s): 6/10 (All kinda jerks and unlikeable cutouts)
Romance: 5/10 (Liked him, but didn’t get her attraction)
Twist: 4/10 (Out of nowhere and seemed kind cheap)
Supporting Characters: 7/10 (Better than the MCs)
Writing: 7/10 (Competent but lacking spark)
Themes: 6/10 (Points for ambition, no cookie for execution)
Resolution: 7/10 (Strongest part of the book?)
Buy Or Borrow: If you must read it, we recommend you borrow from a friend of the library.
All the Rage or anything from Courtney Summers