So I’ve been sick for the whole past two weeks. Caught dengue fever, was hospitalized for four days, and didn’t really have the energy to get much reading done for the rest of the days. But because at the beginning of this sickness sequence I was reading After by Anna Todd, I was kinda stuck with it, and pretty much the only thing I could do through the awful fever was finishing the damn book. So here I am, talking about The. Damn. Book.
A little warning, if you’re a fan of this book, please just stop reading, because this review is not gonna be a pretty one.
Okay, I am not going to beat around the bush here. This book, was so effing bad, that it pissed me off. It has slightly over 600 pages on Scribd, and I honestly don’t know why it even needs that many pages.
It’s about a supposedly good girl named Theresa, who prefers to be called Tessa, but only when and by whom she wants it, who just starts her college days, and newly moves into a dorm. Where she finds that she is roomed with a girl who looks the farthest away from a Tessa’s friend should have looked like. Her roommate wears emo makeup, skimpy clothes, and has a bunch of friends who’ve all got tattoos and piercings all over their bodies.
One guy in the punk group is Hardin, a handsome lad with extremely rude manner. Whom Tessa is attracted to right away but whose lifestyle is extremely different from hers. This guy, despite being highly attractive, is totally bad news. Apparently he doesn’t do school, he parties a lot, sleeps around with any girl he can find, and probably has a secret box full of dark stuff.
Albeit all the incoherence, Tessa and Hardin step into a mystified, weird, sick relationship where she doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but can’t really stop giving herself to him because she is just too crazy about him. So they end up doing all the sexy parts of a relationship without actually getting into one.
It’s just, one unhealthy, and sick love story.
Oh my God, there’s just too many complaints that are piling up in my brain that my fingers are aching to type them all right now. They’re so many, I really don’t know where to start. But before I ramble, let me just say this first. At this point, I absolutely do not care if I spill any spoiler in this review, because I honestly think there’s nothing that can ruin this story further. Trust me, it’s already bad enough as it is.
First, and probably the biggest flaw that this story has is this most inconsistent and random plot it has. It constantly describes one thing, and then tells a totally different narrative about it.
Like, Tessa is at first depicted as a good girl who is obsessed with planning and studying, who seemingly can’t live without planning her life out into extreme details, like down into 20 minute nap and stuff. But then, the story goes on, and she appears to be nothing she has been described as. She jumps into any wild opportunity the second she is offered, she is not once doubtful of getting into a super unfair infidelity, and she spends more time at parties than at her room studying. It really was like, wth??
Or this one. At the outset, Hardin is portrayed as a bad guy who possibly has a secret side to him, because apparently, he has his own private bookshelves despite his outlook that screams anything but reading. But other than that one early description of him, I didn’t see anything bookish about him at all. For the rest of the story.
This book is so consistently being inconsistent that it made me wonder if they could ever be consistent, why be consistent on the wrong thing?
Then the story manages getting even worse, providing no development, nor character arcs in it whatsoever. After perusing those lengthy pages, I ended up at exactly the same spot with where I’d started.
So the book opens with telling us that there’s this innocent girl who’s attracted to a bad guy with tattoos who secretly reads. Then they get into this sick relationship, where they kiss, they masturbate each other, they have sex, they learn a bit of each other’s life secrets without ever truly caring or loving each other.
When I looked back, I realized a couple of things. First, there is never a point where they’re actually boyfriend and girlfriend even with the ‘incredibly strong pull’ between them. And also, after all those salacious stuff they’ve done together, both their positions and dispositions bizzarely never shift. Secondly. Any mysterious aspect like those hidden bookshelves, or a father who’s getting married to a friend’s mom just go completely ignored and unexplored. So it was like, all these puzzles are thrown into the mix, for the hell what reason I am not sure.
Every event taking place seems to change nothing of the characters, or in the plot, or anything, really. Making all of them look entirely haphazard and disconnected from each other.
Reading this terrible story, I really didn’t have a good grasp of its essence. For everything that occurs, I was puzzled by the timing, or why they happened, or what feelings that they’re based on, or what sentiments should they invoke. Like when Tessa betrays Noah over and over, and over again, I didn’t understand how it’s possible for Noah to forgive everything that’s been done to him. I also couldn’t comprehend what he hangs his hope on to, because I guess, I failed on getting a good look of their relationship.
I am not saying that Noah can’t forgive Tessa for everything she’s done. I am only saying that, if you do something, you need to justify it so that I can understand why you do what you do. Like if you forgive her because you freaking love her and absolutely can’t lose her, tell me or show me something that makes me feel that! Convince me that!
Another absurdity is when Hardin who’s supposed to tremendously hate his asshole-but-has-changed father, agrees to come to his house, to his dinner, and to his party because of Tessa whom he doesn’t love! And how do I know that? Because the ending has told me so!
And here’s the thing that has confused me most. A female lead narrating a story single-handedly is a pretty common thing in a romance-world, but somehow in this book, the fact that Tessa is the only person whom we hear the story from makes the story sound like a monochromatic one. In a very bad way.
You know that in a romance, normally you get a pretty clear picture that the lead has a whole life but she’s currently telling us only her love story. Well, in this book, this is what I felt. Tessa doesn’t have any kind of life other than getting ping-ponged between parties, her dorm, and Hardin’s rooms. Only doing all the scandalous acts, and nothing else. There’s also no context at all to help me understand her situation or her account. So when she’s telling me that she feels this or that, it only raised so many questions for me and I doubted her on the objectivity of her opinion. Every single time. Basically, I didn’t trust her as a storyteller.
There’s only one dimension to the story, and it is that one sick liaison. This fact kind of mutes the characters a lot. I couldn’t see any personality to any character in this book. Typically, I’ll get a pretty holistic persona of any character I read. But nil here. The characters are so one faceted. Or should I say, one sentenced? Because they’re practically described as standalone sentences. As in, Hardin. He is a punk. He reads. He sleeps around. But those sentences would never materialize into one solid individuality and instead, they would stay very much as unrelated words as they are throughout the book. And this situation applies to all of the characters. Really, I still remember the leads only because they’re mentioned beyond frequently. The other characters? The second I closed the book, I forgot all of their names! I won’t remember having met a person, if I didn’t know them personally. And that’s pretty much what happened with these characters.
And also, amidst those unimpressive characters, there’s this ‘good’ hypocritical Tessa, who is in my opinion, just downright detestable. To be honest, I don’t think it’s possible for me to love a story if I hate the storyteller as much as I loathed Tessa. I won’t be getting into details as of why she’s so horrible, because there would be just too many things to mention. So I am just going to say this. Despite her being in her coming of age phase, she is truly a five yo toddler. Her actions tell that, and her decisions confirm that. She is that childish in her heart, and when your body is that much older than your soul, immaturity could never look uglier than that.
To me personally, rather than a romance, this book looks more like a bad porn. It has no actual plot and it delivers too much of teasing and sexing scenes which didn’t make me feel romantic or loved at all, but made me all grossed out and feel cheap instead. And where I was supposed to feel the romantic journey, I felt like reading but random actions packed in millions of sentences without any emotional growth to it.
So at the end of the day, I think this story starts wrong, and it goes wrong, and I can’t believe that there was a point where I was hoping it would end right, but nope! and it also ends wrong. It’s just, all, wrong. This narrative takes an invented set where it shares literally nothing with the world that you and I live in. There’s no common rule, or sense or practice that would help you understand the story.
If it were up to me, I’d say, no one should get through such an awful experience like reading this book. But apparently this book has been made a movie, so someone or numerous someone must have liked this story, so the chance that you might like it would just never be zero, I guess. So, read it. Or don’t. Your say.
But will I read the next piece of the series? Yes, I can’t believe it but this is a part of a series! My answer is: Not A Chance.
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