Truthfully, I’m about done with teen-angsty books. And teenage romance? Ugh. So when someone recommended Hereafter, I wasn’t terribly excited. But since the reviews were mixed (book reviews often recommend appropriate ages for books, but they rarely agree) I put the copy at our local library on hold. And I’ll admit that I didn’t really pay a ton of attention to the description.
I’m glad I didn’t, because I think not knowing what I was getting into when I started the book helped a ton. The book is told in first person by Amelia, who is a ghost. She doesn’t remember her life at all, she just remembers her death. Other than reliving her death as a nightmare, Amelia doesn’t have much of an existence. Until she sees someone dying in almost the exact same way she did. As she tries to save him, a connection is made between them, and all of a sudden, someone – the very hunky Joshua she tried to save – can see and hear her. And the fact that he happens to be attracted to her as well is icing on the cake. As Amelia and Joshua try to unravel the events of her life and battle Eli – the powerful ghost who seems to have all the answers to Ameila’s past – they find out all kinds of interesting secrets about the town where they live, Joshua’s family, and the bridge where they both almost perished.
I’ll admit that the book is pretty typical in its storyline – boy and girl meet, they can’t be together, they fight of the bad people, blah blah. What takes Hereafter up a notch is that Hudson keeps the twists coming. Though I could tell where the book would eventually end up, I truthfully didn’t have the slightest as to how it would get there. For example (WARNING: slight spoiler alert) I knew from pretty early on that Eli was responsible for Amelia’s death, but when it came down to the how…dang dude, I did NOT see that twist coming (see, slight spoiler alert).
Back to the main reason I read the book, and that is the mixed reviews. No, the reviews were not mixed about whether or not the book is good, they were mixed as to the age-appropriateness of the book. In my career as a librarian, I’ve tended to err more on the safe side of things unless a book is extremely well written, or I can name at least 5 low readers who would eat it up. And though I loved the book, I’m not sure that too many of my low readers would be able to get through it, so I’m not going to buy it for my middle school library. I think the majority of middle school students could handle it though, despite the alcohol and mild language (which totaled much less than a typical episode of the new 90210). And yes, anyone who loves a good romance story (ugh) that has some action and intrigue in it would love this book.