Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia nows for sure is that she’s dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she’s trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever. From Goodreads
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I was pulled in from the first paragraph, held my breath at the end of the second chapter, and didn’t want to put it down until I had finished the last word.
The story is quite original, though the premise reminded me slightly of A Certain Slant of Light, (one of my favorite books). The plots and characters, however, are very different and I didn’t find myself comparing them while reading. I like that Hereafter was unpredictable and intriguing. Instead of having events heavily foreshadowed, we unravel the mysteries of Amelia’s life (and afterlife) with her, helping to form an emotional bond with the character. The story also moves at just the right pace. Though it never lags, Ms. Hudson takes her time to explain certain scenes using detailed description and/or dialogue. The important moments don’t feel rushed and the conversations flow naturally as a result.
The main characters are the true heart of this book. Amelia and Joshua are both beautifully written. They act, react and speak in a way that, again, feels natural. While neither is perfect, they are very likeable and sympathetic. There is an innocence to Amelia that I find to be very appealing, part of which derives from her lack of knowledge about herself and certain aspects of the world around her. At the same time, however, she displays wit, intelligence and courage that lends to proof of her maturity. Joshua is smart, sweet, compassionate and witty. He’s an independent thinker who chooses to follow his own path instead of being led by his peers or his family, for that matter. Joshua and Amelia are a good match despite their “differences” and the complications that arise from them. They are honest and supportive of one another and their feelings for each other are evident without being too obvious. There are some very subtle, tender yet intense moments between the two, and I like that their romance grows slowly over time, making it feel real.
I would highly recommend Hereafter to anyone who enjoys YA and/or supernatural stories. I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel when it’s released. Also, isn’t the cover stunning?
Source: Digital ARC from HarperCollins
Target Audience: Teen, 12+, YA fiction
Release Date: 6/7/2011