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'After the End' by Amy Plum: Gripping young adult read

Thrilling action and suspense
courtesy of HarperTeen

After the End by Amy Plum


"After the End" by Amy Plum is a combination survival/action story that begins in remote Alaska and then takes the reader to Salt Lake City, Utah. It should be no surprise to fans of her "Die for Me" series that this story, too, has a bit of paranormal activity.

Juneau (named after the city) is out hunting when she feels that something is wrong with her family. She rushes back to her clan's campsite and realizes that everyone has been kidnapped. Determined to find them, she sets out with her two dogs, and when she reaches Anchorage, she realizes that everything she has been taught from childhood, everything for the past seventeen years, was a lie.

Their clan lived alone because (they told the children) there had been a horrible war, World War III, in 1983. They escaped and lived apart from the devastation that this war wrought on the land (nuclear radiation). They stayed in their small area to avoid brigands who would rob and kill them.

Juneau is the best hunter in the clan and the best "Reader." That means she can divine things and perform some "Conjuring." Like the other children in her clan, she has a gold star in one of her eyes. It looks like a decorative contact lens.

Throughout the story, Juneau deals with technology she has read about but never used, and some technology she has never read about. GPS and cell phones are foreign words to her. But Plum manages to create a believable confusion in Juneau -- it's never overdone.

The story alternates between first person narrative by Juneau and Miles, a teenager who has just been kicked out of his private high school in spite of his extremely wealthy father's constant donations. He had planned to attend Yale, but that is on hold until he can prove his behavior has improved.

When Miles learns that his father, who owns a pharmaceutical company, is looking for a missing girl in Seattle, he decides that the perfect way to get back in his father's good graces would be to find the girl and bring her to his father. Of course, it doesn't quite work that way.

Both narratives are beautifully done and both sound authentic. The action is well written as is the dialogue. The most disappointing part of the story is realizing that it's only the beginning of a series.

This book would be a great choice for reluctant readers or any reader who enjoys scifi, action, and survival books. Why 5 stars? I couldn't put it down. And I can't wait for the sequel.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, HarperTeen, for review purposes.

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