Friday, May 31, 2019

DNF Review: After by Anna Todd

Title: After (After #1)
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 582
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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?

I didn't know much about After going in. All I knew was that it had originated on Wattpad and was being turned into a movie, so it fit as the "2019 movie adaptation" category for one of the reading challenges I'm participating in. I went in with no expectations, but I still managed to be extremely disappointed with this book.

Long after I turned the first page of After, I found out that it had started out as Harry Styles fanfiction. Honestly, I didn't really know who Harry Styles was (One Direction was a bit after my time), but I do know that I've never loved a fanfiction turned novel in my life and this is no different. I made it 83% through before I finally gave up.

Tessa and Hardin are the main characters of this romantic story. They start off well enough - Hardin is the Bad Boy and Tessa the Good Girl. They're polar opposites who end up being drawn to each other. Of course, Hardin acts like a complete jerk, but I was fine with that at first. Angst can be fantastic, especially in hate to love romance! Unfortunately, this reads about how you'd expect from an average hate to love fanfic. It's bad. The writing is bad and the story is bad.
He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.  

If this line doesn't completely sum up the entire book... About half the page count could have been removed from After had the angst been cut to a reasonable level. There is more back and forth than in a Colleen Hoover novel, which is saying something. Not only that, but Hardin's jerk attitude only gets worse. This is absolutely one of the most toxic relationships I've ever read.

After is a book I might (MIGHT) have enjoyed as an angsty teenager, but I absolutely can't as an adult. I have a difficult time understanding how this series has such a huge following. I also have a hard time understanding how this story could possibly drag on for four more books. But I'm having the hardest time understanding how this ever got turned into a movie!

I hated Fifty Shades of Gray, but I'd rather read that fifty times than be subjected to the last 15% of After.