Aftertime Paperback – Feb 15 2011
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"Evocative, sensual, harrowing." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"A fantastic new dystopian series...Littlefield's compelling writing will keep readers turning pages late into the night to find out what happens next. Outstanding!" Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars
-RT Book Reviews
"I loved this novel-it was Stephen King's The Stand in a bra and panties."
-Paul Goat Allen
"Wildly original, guaranteed to give you nightmares...examines the strength of one woman, the joy of acceptance and the power of love. A must read."
-JT Ellison, author of The Immortals
About the Author
Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri, the middle child of a professor and an artist. She has been writing stories since childhood. After taking a hiatus to raise her children, she sold her first book in 2008, and has since authored over a dozen novels in several genres. Sophie’s novels have won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. In addition to women’s fiction, she writes the post-apocalyptic Aftertime series, the Stella Hardesty and Joe Bashir crime series, and thrillers for young adults. She is a past president of the San Francisco Romance Writers of America chapter. Sophie makes her home in northern California.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Anyway, for the first 1/3 of the book, in the back of my mind, I was thinking "finally, a post-apocalypse story that doesn't have the women being herded for rape or the men creating gangs and shooting everyone who's not in theirs". Then we see the development of the "cliques" (no, none of them are original - the "militants", the "sinners", the "religious", the "hermits") but at least none of it devolved into post-apocalyse serial rape "farms".
This story is not as much about an apocalypse as it is about the redemption of a woman, set in an apocalyptic environment. I liked the apocalypse - the origins, the response, the solution... it was all very believable and realistic. Even the zombies struck me as believable, for the most part (I'm still not sure why they are super fast).
I did not relate to Cass on any level (and this is the main reason why this book only gets 3 stars) - there was some sense that her deep desire to find her daughter was more related to her addiction (and her need to redeem herself from it) than because she wanted to find her daughter. I see now that this novel is a Harlequin production, which means the personal redemption thread, and the quick romance, and Cass's sexual background make MUCH more sense now.
As long as you keep in mind that this book isn't trying to tell you about surviving the apocalypse as much as it's trying to tell you about a woman's survival and redemption, you should like it. Oh, and there is no supernatural root to any of it - it's all a manmade tragedy.
to be honest, it felt more like a drunken dream/nightmare of the "heroine" than anything.
The constant bad choices by a "reformed" alcoholic drove me to distraction. While I get that she was abused and suffered from PTSD, her absolute refusal to do ANYTHING about it made me want to throw the book across the room.
There was very little background about what the heck happened, and why. The constant scene shifts with no segue made this book very hard to read.
I wouldn't recommend it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Beaters -- the infected of Aftertime -- are definitely NOT zombies. They are somewhat like the infected of 28 Days Later (and even that is a stretch), and the Beater strain caused by Blueleaf can be passed on through bites. Beaters retain some minor forms of speech, memory and the capacity to think to a small degree. While most victims of Blueleaf remain in the damaged form of a Beater, continuing to attack healthy people, a few victims recover from the illness.
Cass Dollar, the character providing the POV, is one of the lucky few to survive becoming a beater, but a large chunk of her memory is missing, and she is on a mission to find her young daughter, Ruthie. The last time she saw her daughter was when she was carried off by Beaters.
This book was marketed as a horror novel...and there was barely enough action to qualify it as a thriller. The author, Sophie Littlefield, writes paragraph after paragraph of scenery descriptions; the first eleven pages were mostly landscape descriptions of what Cass was seeing, and I had to read 1/4 into the book before it was even remotely interesting. I had to read 300+ pages before the book finally resembled a horror story...Littlefield put more detail into her sex scenes than the action scenes with Beaters and survivors (which were limited interactions). The ending left me wondering if there is to be a sequel, but even so, the story finished too abruptly in any case.
I was tempted to give Aftertime just two stars because it was one of the worst "horror" novels I have ever read, but Littlefield did write well...just not well enough for the horror genre. The story was very chronological, but it may have benefited from including more flashbacks. I also think it would have been much better if other POVs were included; Cass came across as an underdeveloped character, and it really hurt the story. The only strength of Aftertime was the dialogue, and even then it was, at times, like trying to roll a turd downhill: sticking in places, instead of rolling smoothly. The last few chapters of the book were so much better than the rest, it was almost as if another person wrote them, but it wasn't enough to justify reading this book.
If Littlefield does decide to write a sequel, I think she would do much better if she stuck to the style she used in the last 50+ pages: lots of dialogue, great action sequences, and some well-developed characters. (For example, Monica was only in the story briefly, but she made more of an impression than Cass ever did.) But, I hope she doesn't expect readers to slog through chapter after chapter of descriptions. If Littlefield could focus more on the interaction of characters, she might do much better with her next attempt at horror.
Cass the central character is a young recovering alcoholic who is a store clerk. She had a tough start in life and has a daughter, Ruthie, that her inner and outer world revolves around. She classifies her life into three parts: before, during, and after. The story takes place in the after, the fall of civilization. Leaders are emerging and societies are being built, while most are still just struggling to survive. There are the loners, the groups holed up, the rebuilders, the covenant, and the rebels. I enjoyed this book on many levels. It was a great multifaceted story.
The writing is smooth, beautiful, and spine chilling at times. Its reflective and all told from Cass's point of view. There were some parts that reminded me of a Dean Koontz storytelling style. I read this book fast and it stayed with me. The details make it come alive and seem real. Here's a two examples of some memorable conversations. The first one was with a loner and what he did all day by himself and later a conversation about the prevailing feeling that something is always off and being able to articulate it when hanging clothes out on a clothesline and wishing she had her tins from her house to put the clothespins in.
I was also fascinated by the tidbits on nature. Cass has some knowledge on plants and animals and notices their recovery. It is a story of hope, this one line from the book sums it up, "Earth did what She would; She chose life. ...She seemed unstoppable in her determination to restore health to Her forests and mountains and waters, as every new day seemed to bring a sprig or seedling of some species that was thought to be lost..."
These zombie have a few unique traits from other zombie stories, which adds to the storyline.
The only complaint was that the last adventure, was too short and not descriptive enough, it felt like the page limit was met and abruptly ended.
I loved this and highly recommend it. Be warned there are a few graphic sexual encounters and very gory and violent zombie details.
As other reviewers have said, this book REALLY suffers from the lack of action. I didn't think I'd mind this so much (I consider myself open to all types of books), but after reading it I totally get it now: not only is there not a lot of action, there's not even much dialogue, and everything but the protagonist's past seems very underdeveloped (including Cass herself).
For instance, the "romance" between Cass and Smoke was obviously supposed to be an important part of her rebirth. I got the impression that Cass was supposed to be "reclaiming" herself and her own body by choosing to have sex with this man and (possibly?) sharing a meaningful relationship with him--but really, I have no idea (the sex scenes just seemed like they were supposed to be way more important than they actually were). Smoke's character was also really underdeveloped and what with all the endless introspection and flashbacks, their "relationship" basically came out of nowhere; despite those long (and seemingly important) sex scenes, they basically have a grand total of 1 conversation throughout this entire book. I didn't feel like I knew either of these people well enough to guess at what they were actually thinking.
The most disappointing part of this book for me was the world building. I thought the explanations and the details given of the apocalypse and the "beaters" were vague and unsatisfying. Government experimentation and/or unknown bioterrorism have somehow led to a mysterious "blueleaf" plant which has somehow led to a mysterious fever, which has killed off most of the population and somehow led to the "beater" affliction. There are also repeated references to a "Siege," the collapse of the government, and possibly some kinda containment zone, but as I said, I found this all very vague and disappointing.
I appreciated the fact that the author wanted to make her zombies different, but for the most part, these "beaters" just didn't do it for me. For no reason they only eat skin and while they're supposed to be mindless they are apparently mindful enough to only eat skin, dress themselves, and communicate, etc. (though to be fair they DID seem to become more interesting as the book went on).
Books with the same elements (as well as female characters) that you might find more entertaining:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (YA)
Enclave by Ann Aguirre (YA)
Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy) by Mira Grant
Altered: Setenid Blight Book One Kimberly Montague (YA)
The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin (your library probably has this, so it's worth a try).
The First Days: As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater. Reads like fan fic at first but its probably what you wanted this book to be.
The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell (heads up, this book is bleak like the Road; it's really good but it might poop your party).
When a government experiment goes wrong, the world changes. A blue leafed plant, when ingested, caused many people to acquire a fever and then turn into a Beater- a flesh-eater. Cass waits until the Beaters are out of control and she knows she will be able to get Ruthie back without a quarrel. She does and takes her to a safe shelter. But one day later, the Beaters attack, and Cass is taken by the Beaters, even though Ruthie is saved.
Cass wakes up and doesn't realize where she is or what happened. Her body is filthy and her skin is missing in patches. She, who had been a Beater, has returned. She has another chance. But coming back from the disease is unheard of. Cass finds help with an outlaw called Smoke. He says he believes her, that she is not a zombie now and that she is not infected. He will go with her to find and retrieve Ruthie.
Their journey takes them to the Rebuilders, those that use heavy artillery to see civilization restored to their liking. It takes them to the Convent, a place that only females are allowed. It takes them to face death and back again. It this desolate world Sophie Littlefield has built, there is death, life, love, compassion and abuse. Well written and thought-provoking, this is a zombie dystopian novel like no other.
Cass Dollar awakens to a dystopian landscape in clothes that do not belong to her and healing bite marks along her back. Her hair has been ripped from her head, there are self-inflicted wounds all over her body. She doesn't know how long she has been out of it, maybe weeks, months? As memories begin resurfacing she focuses on one thing, Ruthie, her child. She has to get her back.
Cass' world is a barren landscape of death. Once the great state of California the area is dead, ripe with flesh eating infected humans called Beaters and the remaining humans that will do anything to survive. Hardly anything lives, killed off by terrorist attacks or government experiments gone wrong. Cass has to travel through this wasteland and hope that she isn't attacked by Beaters or survivors and that she'll some how make it back to where she last saw Ruthie.
Along the way, Cass meets Smoke. Not one to trust, but she knows she can't do it alone, she begrudgingly let's him help her find her daughter, all the while holding him at arms-length. He is kind though and without him they'll be no chance for her, no chance for Ruthie.
I know what you are thinking, More Zombies. But, don't let your preconceived notions hold you back from this gem. Littlefield takes a tried and true horror element and infuses it with new life, real human elements and a voice that will have you enthralled. The perfection of this tale was the character of Cass, she wasn't likable at all times and sometimes you didn't agree with her actions, but her character was real, her transition and development was real. Littlefield did a remarkable job with portraying a scarred and slightly used woman and making her into a heroine. There was nothing special about Cass Dollar, but because of Littlefield's portrayal she became larger than life and in the end very special.
Recommended for fans of horror and zombies and dystopian, any will do. There is also a bit of romance in the pages so ladies you will be satisfied. For fans of King and Koontz this is a good female voice to compare. This is an adult novel and recommended for a mature audience.