Hudson, Tara. Hereafter. 416 p. HarperCollins. 2011. Hardcover $17.99. ISBN 9780062026774.
I am a sucker for a good afterlife story, so it's no surprise that I couldn't put down this very readable ghostly romance.
Amelia knows she's been dead for a while, but she doesn’t know much else. She wanders through the afterlife aimless and alone until something happens that changes everything—she witnesses Joshua, a boy her age, nearly drowning in a river... and to her utter shock, he sees her, too.
The story’s pace is leisurely at first, primarily devoted to developing Amelia and Joshua's relationship and establishing the main conflicts. Even though the first portion of the book isn't exactly plot-driven, I found myself captivated by the details of Amelia’s afterlife existence, and loved learning about fragments of her life as she and Joshua uncover them. Thus, I was completely invested in the characters by the time the action ramped up toward the latter third of the book, and absolutely could not put it down.
Elements of this story I particularly liked include the author's clear fondness for the Oklahoma setting, Joshua's attempt at jogging Amelia's memories of her life by playing music from her era (I want to know what songs the author had in mind!), and the tension-filled forbidden romance.
Those who enjoyed other afterlife stories, such as Laura Whitcomb's A Certain Slant of Light, Neal Shusterman's Everlost, and Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere, will certainly warm to this one. Although this book is the first in a planned series, its story is wrapped up neatly, with a just a few tantalizing loose threads left hanging to make the reader eager for the sequel. Sign me up!
And can I just say? The cover of this book is absolutely stunning. It fits in with my favorite current trend for YA covers: pretty dresses! The translucency of the figure the perfect way to depict a ghost, and the colors of the sky and water are so eye-catching. I read this as an ebook, but if I’d been strolling down the aisle of a bookstore, I would definitely be drawn in by that beautiful cover.
Hereafter hits shelves today. ARC for review provided by the publisher via NetGalley.