After the Fear by Rosanne Rivers is one of the best new-release YA dystopia novels I’ve read in months. It has a classic, yet original theme, amazing writing, and an epic story. It’s one of those books that you want to get online and gab about on Goodreads right after reading it (and, in my case, get on my blog and review).
After the Fear follows Sola Herrington, a teenager in a futuristic England. In this dystopian world, England is in a massive debt. It is broken up into cities, with citizens remaining in their home city except for demonstrators and demonstration contestants. Demonstrators are citizens who have completed a series of gladiator-style battles in which demonstrator contestants fight to the death. Contestants are recruited by the government, and must participate in order to “repay their debt,” as funds raised from ticket sales from the battle are used towards the cause of getting England out of their financial woes. Sola lives a relatively normal life, going to school and trying to not spend too much time thinking about her deceased mother, when a wrong step in the midst of powerful people finds her recruited into the demonstrations. While training for and competeing in the demonstrations, Sola expereinces her first encounter with romance as she learns about friendship, sacrifice, her own inner strength, and perhaps, more about the government and its secrets then she’s prepared for.
The novel’s plot is right on, with enough action to keep it moving, as well as enough human experience moments to keep it relatable. Yes, the public fight plot probably sounds familiar. However, I find that these types of plots tend to work best if you want an involving dystopian read, as environmental crisis or massive illness-type themes usually come across as underwhelming, lacking action, and sketchy. After the Fear is none of these things. The novel unfolds at a quick pace, leaving the reader no time to get bored. Major events, as well as finer, but still important, details are unveiled at nearly perfect intervals, which gives the book a sense of mystery and suspense in addition to all the action scenes. Fate is also given an important role in events, which contributes to the believability of the story. The conclusion wraps up in epic fashion, revealing enough for the reader to be satisfied with the novel, but still anxious for more.
All of this is accomplished amazingly by Rosanne Rivers in her young adult debut. Rivers is truly an amazing talent. Her tight writing and editing skills, combined with her stellar and creative plotting and storytelling abilities make for a fantastic novel. Ultimately, Rivers weaves together an epic, subtly brilliant novel, reminiscent of what would happen if Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling got together and decided to write a book.
Having read the dystopia genre extensively in the past year, I’ve developed a strong sense of what I like in the genre, and what I don’t. After the Fear combines a riveting story with interesting characters for a memorable reading experience. I’d recommend this novel for anyone who loves The Hunger Games, or who simply loves a good, action-packed story.