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Aftertime Paperback – Feb 15 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Luna; Original edition (Feb. 15 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373803362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373803361
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.6 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #570,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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 and attended college in Indiana. She worked in technology before having children, and was lucky enough to stay home with them while they were growing up. She writes novels for kids and adults, and lives in Northern California. Visit her online at www.SophieLittlefield.com.

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Format: Paperback
The "romance" between Smoke (stupid name for a grown man - just because the world has gone to hell doesn't mean people would be taking on silly nicknames) and Cass is stretching it - 24 hours in and she's smitten with him? Yeah, whatever...

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 81 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Book Description & Blurbs Were Misleading... July 2 2011
By Ursula K. Raphael - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In Aftertime, the world has undergone tremendous biological warfare, which has severely damaged food supplies, particularly livestock. A genetically designed plant called Kaysev has been introduced as an alternative food source but a mutation known as Blueleaf causes further grief. At first, people are eating Blueleaf for a new high, but the side effects prove deadly. If someone digests the pant, they either die from fever, or become a Beater.

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.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Little Bit of Everything! May 22 2011
By S. Dargin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
A little bit of everything, zombies, romance, adventure, post apocalyptic, community, relationships, nature, personal growth, and science.

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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
All backstory, no action Aug. 8 2011
By Leah - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
AFTERTIME started out so promisingly: a post-apocalyptic zombie yarn told from the point of view of a promiscuous alcoholic and neglectful parent, a woman struggling to overcome her mistakes and take charge of her life. Yes! Finally, someone is getting back to the roots of zombie survival narratives. This is the voice of a real person, not some over-prepared jarhead whose emotions span a toggle switch between fear and rage, whose wearily stoic introspection is curtailed by guns-'n-gore porn.

Unfortunately, the best part of AFTERTIME is the premise. After the startling opening, the novel quickly gets bogged down in endless backstory and flashbacks. Narrator Cass can't go five minutes without being struck by a memory of Beforetime--what survivors in this world call the pre-zombie days. Some reminiscing is necessary, but pages and pages pass with Cass walking down a street, or brushing her teeth, while absorbed in memories.

There's so much backstory that I wonder if Ms. Littlefield chose the wrong time for her story to begin. AFTERTIME may have fared better as a sequel to BEFORETIME, when Cass could experience the ordeal of losing her young daughter and struggling to reconnect with her in the midst of the unfolding zombie apocalypse. Instead, all the good stuff is in the past, and Littlefield almost seems to sense this by dwelling so much on it.

The book also has a huge problem with info dumping. Littlefield clearly put a lot of work and careful thought into her world-building, but such details should be parceled out sparingly, as relevant to the plot and as needed to heighten the verisimilitude of the fictional world. Too many scenes in AFTERTIME are just info dump after info dump, and again it points to the possibility that the novel would have been better if it detailed the apocalypse as it happened, rather than taking the post-apocalyptic viewpoint.

Aside from the glacial pacing and info dumping, I had problems with the romance between Cass and male MC Smoke. It just comes out of nowhere--within 24 hours of meeting, they're talking with tender pathos and exploring each other's bodies. It rang so false to me that it was inadvertently comical. Turns out the publisher, LUNA, is an imprint of Harlequin, the famous romance publisher. LUNA is a SF/fantasy imprint, but it's not clear if that means "romance in a SF/fantasy setting." AFTERTIME was similarly confusing. Was it meant to be a romance? That would explain the abrupt pairing of the heroine and hero, and the superficiality of their relationship. But so much else about AFTERTIME feels carefully constructed that I'm loath to jump to that conclusion. If this was meant to be a blending of genres, it didn't work for me.

Cass's behavior becomes erratic around Smoke, and doesn't feel quite believable. This hardened woman with a shameful, self-destructive past suddenly becomes a blubbering, stuttering mess around the mysterious handsome stranger. The same woman whose past indicates she uses--and enjoys being used by--men without the merest hint of emotional intimacy. It just didn't work. Cass is too quick to let her guard down, too quick to fall for him. The first sex scene arrives somewhere around 35% through the novel, before we've even had any real conflict!

I wanted to like AFTERTIME, but its weaknesses overwhelm its fresh premise and flawed anti-heroine. The book could have been excellent if the pacing and flashback issues were addressed, and if it had been Cass going solo, without the unnecessary and bland tacked-on romance.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Really lives up to the Luna label... Oct. 26 2011
By Rawrr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A woman wakes up in a post-apocalyptic world and embarks on a surprisingly boring quest to find her missing daughter. This story is less about the apocalypse/quest and more about the rebirth of an abused/self-abusing ex-alcoholic. I didn't think it was horribly written but I felt that, overall, it was disappointing (and boring) enough that I couldn't give it more than 2 stars. In any event, maybe this review will give you such low expectations that you'll end up thinking it's awesome.

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).
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Zombies infused with new life... May 18 2011
By Parajunkee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In a world overrun by Young Adult Dystopian an adult version of the currently "hot" genre stands out among the rest. I can tell you personally that I usually prefer the young adult versions of this genre, for the simple fact that in adult-speak it can be too much. A zombie ripping the flesh off of your best friend in a YA tone is more palatable than in an adult tone. Call me a wuss, but dystopians always hit closer to home for me than your normal run-of-the-mill horror novels. I can read the scariest, bloodies, nastiest scenes and not bat and eyelash -- but give me a dystopian, with real-world type scenarios and I'm a blabbering, emotional mess. That is why when I opened the first page of AFTERTIME I was cringing before I even began to read. Yet, as word after word was digested I was caught and while I was disturbed a good bit, I was so enmeshed within the story that it didn't matter. AFTERTIME was riveting, emotional and real, it was a true journey that struck a chord with me that I didn't expect in a "zombie" novel. When you break it down, this was a story about a mother and a child and the things a woman will do to save her offspring, as a mother I could only hope my strength would be as great.

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.


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