Official Tag line:
“ The world is gone. Worse, so is her daughter.”
Back Cover - IMO
Cassandra “Cass” is having a really bad life to say the least - waking up in the barren desert with no memory of how she got there and wounds all over her body that signify a horrible sequence of events. The world is no longer safe but Cass is determined to navigate its war-torn landscape, she might not remember the events that led to her waking up isolated and alone but she does remember her daughter - the one that is gone.
In a world destroyed by political bio-terrorism and a desolate landscape the Beaters, flesh-eating humans created by the government in a failed experiment, make trusting one another hard. Throw in the religious zealots and crazy idealists and it becomes a nightmare. However, Cass is determined to find her daughter. With the help of the mysterious Smoke, a man who has secrets of his own, a man who Cass feels safe with a rarity in her world before and after, she might have a fighting chance.
On a journey to find her daughter, Cass will discover exactly what has happen to her and just what she and her daughter have become.
I don’t know what to say I picked this book up because I love zombies as the big bad ugly (a recent thing) and I can’t believe that chance was what found this book for me. I LOVED this book. I honestly don’t think that word really encompasses how I feel about it but it is all I have for the moment. I know I can go on and on but really if you knew how much of a reading funk I was in of late you would understand my enthusiasm. This story kicked me in the side of the head it was so good. Now on to more pertinent points concerning my love.
The world created in this book was pretty straightforward. Thank you! The earth faced destruction by its own hands. The government screwed everything up and created more problems whether it was accidental or on purpose you don’t know - ok that last part is my speculating but I wonder. Mankind still manages to stay barely alive and of course the crazy idealist, religious zealots and the opportunist lead the pack. It was simple. It was straightforward. It wasn’t complex and it worked beautifully. So many times I find myself bogged down by the complexity of the world created I lose the story but not in this case. This is not to say that it is not rich in detail.
“ Before, this land was shaded no matter what the reasons, the evergreens thick against the sky. Then the toxins had blanketed the land, and the trees shed their needles and withered in the defeat.”
Another strong element to this story is the emotional journey Cass takes - pivotal to the entire story in my opinion. The person Cass was Before was not heroine material but the person Cass needs to become in the Aftertime is. Ms. Littlefield doesn’t make a miraculous leap into heroine with Cass. Thank you, I really can’t say that enough, she was not ready she needs (present because it's not over for Cass yet) to grow into it slowly.
Ms. Littlefield takes Cass on a road filled with physical and mental self discoveries and gives her the chance to realize she can step out of the past and that she deserves better - can I possible mention Smoke here I promise I am getting to him.
“Cass hung back, watching. She’d never had woman friends....But now, as she prepares to go into the unknown, she suddenly wished she’d tried harder.”
Cass is her own worse enemy. The person that beats up Cass the most is herself.
What else made this book click for me? It was logical and when you are dealing with an apocalyptic like world over run with flesh eaters - logic makes it the easiest straightforward method of delivering a solid action filled storyline. When you throw in a woman on a journey of self-discovery, a mysteriously sexy man (I mentioned Smoke right), crazy idealist who tote weapons, religious zealot who tote weapons and post apocalyptic hippies who tote weapons - you are happy when the course of events follow some element of sanity. Simplistic is sometime the hardest course to take but the most effective.
Finally, I like my hint of romance and Aftertime delivers in that department with the enigmatic Smoke. He is definitely the man you want by your side in this world. Smoke is ready and willing to do anything to help Cass and lucky for her he seems to have the means. Thanks for having him be the Alpha man but still giving Cass’ her own strength. Smoke intrigues me just as much as he intrigues Cass.
Ms. Littlefield does an exceptional job creating a rich vibrant world amidst the barren isolation of a world decimated and no longer friendly to its inhabitants. The depth of the secondary characters support the story but don’t over power. They are the tools used to give you little snap shots of the world around Cass. Ms. Littlefield uses the poignant memories and thoughts of Cass to paint a deeper understanding of the her and the world without bogging you down - essential for a series starter and much appreciated.
As heroine's go Cass is complex and real. You feel Cass’ shame, her pain, her discovery and finally her acceptance like it was your own. She is driven to find her daughter and filled with guilt and shame but along the way she discovers there is hope especially for her. There is Smoke. I would not call him a hero, not just yet, but he is the hope that Cass needs, the rock that she doesn’t knows she has. He is her ground and I can’t wait to see how this story continues.
The journey you take when reading Aftertime will be one that stays with you. I know I for one can’t wait until the next story is told.
4.75 Moons Perfect but... the story is not finished!
Note: I wanted to mention this since I know a lot of readers have certain feelings regarding stories that have children. Don’t worry. This story is driven by Cass’ desire to find and rescue her daughter but this is a story about a woman realizing who she really is and what she is capable of and a man willing to do just about anything to help her.
Disclose: I received this at an author signing at BEA 2011