"After" is the best-selling kickstarting book to the seven-part series by Anna Todd. Before being sold in print, on tangible pages, Todd's book was found in the not-so-deep depths of Wattpad's fanfiction listings.
Originally, "After" was a series of Harry Styles fanfictions, also featuring his former One Direction bandmates Niall, Zayn, Louis, and Liam. As a well seasoned Harry fanfic reader myself, I had heard of it before it made its way into print and now onto the semi-big screen (it's a movie, now, too, but only in a few theaters). My friends raved about it, claiming it was the best fanfiction they'd ever read. My cousin even posted about it on Facebook a few weeks ago, saying it was the best book she had read in a while.
But, I read the description when it was on Wattpad (a popular online medium for writers of novels, poetry, short stories, etc. to post their content into the world) and was less than impressed. It sounded just like all the other cliché fanfictions about a bad boy, so I never read it ... until last week.
To my surprise, it was awful.
I don't mean cringe-every-page-but-still-keep-reading sucked. I mean I-got-about-a-hundred-pages-in-and-couldn't-bare-to-keep-reading sucked.
How did it suck, exactly?
For starters, I'll cut the book some slack on its inaccuracies of college dorms. You don't share a closet with your roommate. Freshmen don't live with sophomores. Frat houses are not miles and miles away from campus. These inaccuracies are not the main faults of the book, though I definitely noticed them.
Tessa and "Hardin," who we all know is really Harry Styles (movie Hardin even has the same tattoos as Harry, just in different places), are unrealistically hot and cold. No one says or does these things that they're doing. Let's be real if someone actually did any of the crappy things Hardin does to Tessa in real life, they wouldn't keep going back to them.
There are also a lot of plot holes, that may seem minor to others but stuck out to me like sore thumbs as just poor writing technique. One example is when a character has to fly home for the weekend for his girlfriend's birthday, then a few pages later that same character says his family lives close to campus. Which one is it, exactly?
While I understand that this series originally was only meant to be a hobby and a little project Anna Todd did in her free time, one that just happened to become a worldwide phenomenon, there seems to be little care editorially in between publishing her books for fangirls online versus printing it for Simon & Schuster as an actual book.
Maybe I would feel differently about this had I read it while it was still available for free on Wattpad, and I knew that it hadn't gone through the hands of an editing team.
The fact is, it did go through an editing team and presumably several rereads by the author herself, and it still sucked.
It's just not worth anyone's time, and if I were you, I'd save myself the time and I wouldn't go anywhere near this.