After the Fire by Will Hill

After the Fire

4 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Date of publication: October 1st, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Where you can find After the Fire: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.

But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.

My Review:

When I started reading After the Fire, I was thinking that this was going to be a run of the mill Young Adult book. You know, a book where the plucky heroine saves the day. She solves the mystery and gets the bad guy. When I started reading After the Fire last night, I thought that I would get to 30-40% before going to sleep. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was up until almost 12am, devouring this book. I got emotionally invested. I needed to find out what lead up to the fire. I needed to know what would happen to Moonbeam.

After the Fire is Moonbeam’s story. Moonbeam is a survivor of a raid on her cult’s compound. Unlike the other children that were saved, she has secrets. Secrets that eat away at her soul. Secrets that need to come out. Recovering from the raid at a children’s psychiatric hospital, Moonbeam must tell what life was like inside the compound. She also needs to tell them the events that led up to the raid. But can she? Can she overcome everything that has been beaten into her? Or will Father John’s hold on her extend into this new life?

I wasn’t a fan of how the book was broken up at first. There was Before the fire and After the fire. Before detailed how life was at the compound. How Father John and his Centurions dealt out savage punishments. How everyone walked on eggshells because they didn’t want to be the next one in the box. It was a frightening and oppressive existence. After detailed, Moonbeam’s time in the hospital, recovering from wounds attained in the raid. But more importantly, she is being helped mentally to adjust to being Outside. They also want her to tell them about what led up to the raid and what happened when she went into The Big House while it was going on. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t a huge fan of it at first but as I read the book, I realized that there was a flow to the book. All Before scenes were told in therapy sessions. After I realized that, the book flowed nicely for me.

The characters in this book were layered. I like that in a character. I like being able to peel back the layers to see what made that character up. Take Luke for instance. When he is introduced, I thought that he was an innocent victim. But as the book went on and more of Luke’s personality was revealed, I realized that he had been 100% indoctrinated. That began when Father John took over. By the end of the book, I felt bad for him. Even though he did some atrocious things Before and After, he was still a child that had been abused.

I despised Father John. He was the epitome of evil. He took child brides (which disgusted me). He turned Luke into a fanatic that about flipped his wig when he wasn’t accepted into being a Centurion. I thought he got what was coming to him during the fire.

The secondary characters made this book what it was. They were very well-developed. I will say that I was upset with what happened to Nate. I actually groaned and said “Nooooo” when it was revealed what happened.

The end of the book filled me with hope. The author did a great job of wrapping up all the storylines. He did a fantastic job at letting the reader know that deprogramming from a cult takes months, not weeks. He showed me that those kids could go on to live normal lives. But most of all, he showed me what happened to Moonbeam. The afterword was worth the read.

What I liked about After the Fire:

  1. Not your typical YA book
  2. Layered characters
  3. The end of the book

What I disliked about After the Fire:

  1. How the book was broken up at first
  2. Luke (even though I pitied him)
  3. Father John

I gave After the Fire a 4-star rating. This is not your typical YA book and I liked that. It had layered characters (main and secondary). I loved the end of the book. What I disliked about the book didn’t have a huge impact on my rating. They were personal feelings. I didn’t like how the book was broken up when I started reading it. I didn’t like Luke or Father John.

I would give After the Fire an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is violence. The scene of the raid and of a man being almost starved to death in a box can be triggers. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 16.

I would reread After the Fire. I would also recommend it to family and friends.

I would like to thank Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review After the Fire.

All opinions stated in this review of After the Fire are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**