martedì 15 settembre 2020

Double Review: After & After We Collided by Anna Todd

After #1

AuthorAnna Todd
Published: October 21st 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Number of pages: 582
PurchaseAmazon, TBD

From Goodreads
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?

Unless…could this be love?

After We Collided
After #2

Author: Anna Todd
Published: November 25th 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Number of pages: 674
Purchase: Amazon, TBD

From Goodreads:
Tessa has everything to lose. Hardin has nothing to lose… except her.

After a tumultuous beginning to their relationship, Tessa and Hardin were on the path to making things work. Tessa knew Hardin could be cruel, but when a bombshell revelation is dropped about the origins of their relationship—and Hardin’s mysterious past—Tessa is beside herself.

Hardin will always be… Hardin. But is he really the deep, thoughtful guy Tessa fell madly in love with despite his angry exterior—or has he been a stranger all along? She wishes she could walk away. It’s just not that easy. Not with the memory of passionate nights spent in his arms. His electric touch. His hungry kisses.

Still, Tessa’s not sure she can endure one more broken promise. She put so much on hold for Hardin—school, friends, her mom, a relationship with a guy who really loved her, and now possibly even a promising new career. She needs to move forward with her life.

Hardin knows he made a mistake, possibly the biggest one of his life. He’s not going down without a fight. But can he change? Will he change for love?

My Review

I decided to read After some time after finding myself rewatching the movie twice in a week. It came to me as a surprise that such a romance could leave me with so many emotions, but as soon as I started the book I was definitely, completely HOOKED. I read many reviews of fellow readers who were just as surprised as I was but I guess that's what this book's power is: you might hate romantic stories, you might hate love cliches, you might hate the typical bad-boy-meets-virigin-girl story, but you could never, never hate AFTER.

The fast pace the book immediately adopts has you focused from the beginning: Tessa is a sweet yet funny narrator and the naivety with which she starts to make her first experiences is addictive. Hardin on the other hand, might seem like the typical tattooed, sarcastic, tormented soul, yet with a charming passion for literature. As I try to write about them, I realise that there is not much special about them, they could as well be the protagonists of many similar books. But what makes the difference here is their incredible chemistry. This, along with Anna Todd's fresh and engaging narrative, makes the book great.

The relationship between Tessa and Hardin is a difficult one, they will keep you on edge throughout the whole book: there is no rest for two souls who feel this kind of passion and you will starve for those moments when they finally get to savour their love. The whole ups and downs might be frustrating at times, but you will find yourself addicted nonetheless.

What I really liked in the first book is the display of several scenarios in which we get to experience Tessa and Hardin's relationship: first at college, at the dorms, at Hardin's father's, at Vance's and in the end at their apartament - each setting representing a development in their attempt at creating a balance. What lacked in the second book, personally, was the dynamic storytelling that characterised the first installment.

Useless to say that After finishes with a terrible cut on a really serious matter. The author decided to explore the protagonists' reactions to this matter directly in the second book, leaving the readers completely desperate in their need to buy IMMEDIATELY book #2 - fortunately, I was already prepared. But after reading a few chapters, those necessary to assure me that the book was going where I wanted it to go, I started to loose focus. 

I found After We Collided to be waaaaay too repetitive: too many fights, too much rage, too many mistakes from both sides - and even really stupid ones. The dynamism and addictive pace of the first book was here recreated - or tried to - with countless, exhausting fights, while there was not much more else in the narrative pattern. I started to really reconsider Hardin's character, who in book #2 appears as a crazy lunatic. Moody, obsessive, possessive and completely destructive: if there is a decision to take, you can be sure Hardin will take the wrong one. It gave me much to think the kind of relationship they have in this book, which can be described in one word: completely TOXIC. I didn't like how Hardin often describes Tessa as "his last shot at happines" or "his salvation", making it look like their love is more of a (co)dependency than actual affection. If I think that there a lot of young readers approaching this book, thanks also to the major success it had on screen, I can't help but wonder what kind of message about love they might receive. 

This said, also book #2 manages to end with a major cliffhanger but you know the book ain't that good when 10 days later, I still haven't felt the need to start book #3. So it's definitely a 5 stars for After, which made me rediscover my most sensitive part and dream and love along with its characters, but it's a 3 stars for After We Collided, which didn't manage to make those feelings grow, but wither, on the contrary.

After 5.0!
After We Collided 3.50!


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