BOOK REVIEW – Until the Beginning (After the End #2) by Amy PlumUntil the Beginning (After the End #2)
by Amy Plum
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Synopsis:

When Juneau's clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people's gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles's cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau's people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people - and herself - Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.

▨  Take away the banter

Where is the chemistry between Miles and Juneau? Their hilarious dialogues? The slow growth of their affection? If I’m being fair, I could have seen it coming at the end of book 1. Because what did I love so much in Miles and Juneau’s relationship at first?

Their differences. Their banter. The hilarious complete inability for Miles to stand wildlife.

Now, I’m not saying that he morphed into some super country man, but he evolved for sure and – oh god, I can’t believe what I’m going to say buthe was funnier when he was clueless. I know, I suck. Sue me. But take away the banter, and there’s not quite enough sparks between them to make me interested in their relationship. Contrary to After the End where I was delighted by their interactions, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that they felt forced here. In my opinion, anyway.

Moreover, as I said, it can sound weird that I complain about Miles’s changes, because usually I’m all for character development but in my opinion he lost too much of his own identity, too much of what made me love him in the first place. Although some of his thoughts made me smile still, it occurred way more rarely than before. So, yes. Okay. He grew up. I’m not saying he’s bad, because he’s not. Yet I lost any connection I could have in After the End. I don’t care anymore, and I’m the first to be sad about it, trust me.

Finally, talk about one of the most anticlimactic sex scene I ever read (for a couple I ship, let’s say) : I just didn’t care, like, at all, as it appeared from nowhere. Of course it’s YA so everything fades into black and I’m completely okay with that but still, I’m usually more invested, while here, it didn’t even make me smile. If anything, it annoyed me, because of course no protection for Juneau. Okay, they’re “one with the Yara” and so can’t get any disease, there’s that. Anyway, what about kids? That’s not like the girl could have been on the pill, living recluse the way she did and all. But OF COURSE THAT’S FANTASTIC, because everybody knows that it’s always the case on the first time. Oh, wait – that’s because of the Yara. Silly me.

▨  Please don’t change anything, you might interest me

If the story is still fast-paced, almost nothing happens until the end, and even then I wasn’t enthralled nor captivated by the story.

Basically, Juneau wants to save her clan. Miles is trailing along with her. Whit is not to be trusted. Powerful dudes try to kidnap her, because she’s SO important.

Ring a bell? Oh, YES. It was the plot of After the End. Well, now, you’ve got the same here, without the shocking beginning and the hilarious conversations. Yikes.

To be clear, I felt like we ran round in circles, and the last development about the abilities of Juneau and her clan didn’t satisfy me as I wasn’t a big fan of the so-special status of Juneau it implies. In a word, if the Yara didn’t convince me in the first book, my interest didn’t increase here, but I sure rolled my eyes pretty often, I have to admit.

▨  Add some cartoonish villains

Indeed the villain(s)’s (lack of) characterization makes him (them) so superficial that if his (their) behavior is (are) truly awful and disrespectful (and fucking crazy), I didn’t feel anything toward him (them) : while my brain was able to see how bad he is (they are), yet I never felt anything. No fear, let alone fury. My heartbeat never grew wild. Not for a second. Truth be told, their portrayal are cartoonish, as they offer no nuances. Not nearly enough anyway.

I like nuances. I’m in love with nuances. Please give me nuances.

▨ To sum up, Until the Beginning wasn’t terrible, and Amy Plum knows how to write for sure, but it lost me along the way – so much that I’m not even sure that I’ll read the last book, because sadly, I’m not sure I’ll feel the need to. There will be no book 3, apparently.

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