Roaming the streets of almost-uninhabited Nashville, Claudia Virtue and a band of “Survivors” –or, rather, people who band together for protection against the danger of cannibalistic Hoarders —are struggling to survive in the desolate remains of a city that was once home to thousands of people. With the petty April, brawny Ethan, and quiet Jeremey, Claudia fights to stay alive, all while trying to understand the circumstances she has been placed in. With no memory of her previous life before the world was perpetually altered, Claudia soon discovers something devastating—she is but a player in a virtual game, controlled by unknown “gamers”, who use their real-life avatars to gather food, make alliances, and, most of all, kill. After a (failed) attempt at escape after she discovers the secret of the game, Claudia meets Declan, a mysterious stranger who claims to be a game arbitrator. Under the influence of his high-powered stun gun, Claudia agrees to aid him in his quest to find a rogue player, and, in return, receive protection and the means to escape from the game she is trapped in. She knew there would be danger, but she never planned on some of the things she discovers along the way…
“My reality isn’t all what I believed it to be. It’s not even real. I’m some sort of puppet, and this girl, Olivia, is the one pulling my strings.”
This book was far-flung, wild, and irrational--and it was absolutely marvelous. While most books of this genre (dystopian fiction), can sometimes start a little slowly, Alexander jumped right into the plot with abandon. She had you on the edge of your seat from the get-go. Though I was a little (okay, a lot) confused at first, with the whole dual-personality thing with Claudia/her gamer, little by little, I began to piece together the intricate puzzle known as The Aftermath—and that, in itself, was part of the fun. With the intrigue, action, (and yes, a little bit of romance) The Aftermath turned into a perfectly addicting read that I couldn’t put down. Claudia, though sometimes prone to angst, proved to be a strong main character supported by an equally sturdy minor character assemblage. Though action packed and fast-paced, this book also had a deeper connotation than your average dystopia. I felt Alexander did a wonderful job presenting the moral theme of violence. Do you treat violence with violence, or treat violence with kindness and peace? The Aftermath explores both themes, with the interactions between both players and gamers. In the end, a great read for anyone interested in a good book to start your school year.
“Shoulders slumped in defeat; I walk to the door and grab the knob. A sharp jolt of electricity streaks up my arm and through the rest of my body. I fall to my knees, screaming.”
I would recommend this book for ages eleven and up, due mostly to the themes of violence and its effects (blood, wounds, etc.) that are mentioned quite frequently.
Will the help of the enigmatic Declan, will Claudia be able to find her way out of the game and start anew, with no more blood on her hands? Or will she soon succumb to her relentless gamer, becoming nothing more than a niggling voice inside her head? Read The Aftermath by Jen Alexander to find out!