* * 1/2
She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
While Juneau is off hunting to feed her clan she hears the roar of “renegades.” Or in modern terms, helicopters. It isn’t the first time the clan has heard them. They realize that smaller armies have formed after WWIII and it’s not surprising that some have managed to get things up and running enough to search out safer areas country. But this time the renegades don’t fly over. The roar continues and Juneau is worried about the safety of her clan. She abandons her prey and races back to their village to find everyone gone. Her father has left a message on the dirt floor of their yurt telling her to run.
So she does. After collecting some things from the clan’s storage space, she heads for the coast. And finds the most amazing thing. A modern functioning society with no signs of the war she was lead to believe happened 30 years earlier. Using her connection to the Yara (basically a transcendent ability to connect to the earth and its power) she is given direction on how to find her clan and their leader, who appears to be taken separately. That direction leads her to Seattle.
Miles is rich boy from L.A. that is determined to destroy all the opportunities handed to him. When he is expelled from his private school for cheating, his father, the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company, decides that he will learn responsibility by working in the mail room. If after a year, he has proven that he can be responsible then maybe his father will see if he can still pull strings to get him into Yale. But Miles is impatient and wants to get into his father’s good graces now. When he finds out that his dad is looking for a girl in Seattle, he decides to run off himself and try to find her. If he can deliver what his dad is looking for then everything will change.
After searching for a few days, Miles and Juneau find each other. Before long they are headed on a frantic and adventurous trip to save Juneau’s family. A trip that is full of discovery for both of them. A trip that will hopefully lead to the safe return of her clan.
This story had its ups and downs. I really enjoyed how much Juneau and Miles clashed. They are both nice people but they come from such completely different worlds that their dislike of each other rather perfect. What I didn’t like was their attraction that appeared about mid-way through the book. It just didn’t build enough to make it believable.
I find the idea of a community living so secluded from the rest of the world fascinating. No surprise considering how much I enjoyed M. Night. Shyamalan’s The Village. The reason that Juneau’s clan was secluded holds a lot of potential and it will be interesting to see how the story continues. Unfortunately this leads to my biggest complaint. This is a first book in a series and the abrupt ending made it feel as if someone turned off the TV in the middle of an episode. I was left confused and frustrated. Not necessarily in a good anticipatory way. I would like to see how this ends but I will likely wait until they all the books in the series are out before reading more.
Here’s the thing. If you are looking for a fun quick read with a bit of adventure and “magic” then I I do recommend After the End. And hey, once the entire series is out, I will likely go back and read them all. But until then I’ll stick to my stand alone novels and the few series I’ve been emotionally invested in so long that I can no longer give up.