Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Title: Afterwards
Author: Rosamund Lupton

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Supernatural / Out-of-Body Experience / School Fire / Arson / Mother-Daughter Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown (4/24/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Disliked / Unfinished
Did I finish?: I didn't!
One-sentence summary: A mother, fighting for her own life after racing into a burning school to save her daughter, attempts to solve the mystery and save her family.

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although I don't think it captures the story as the victims aren't elementary school kids.

First line: I couldn't move, not even my little finger or a flicker of an eye.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like domestic thrillers and unusual narrative styles.

Why did I get this book?: I've heard nothing but good things about Lupton's previous novel Sisters.

Review: I think if you're a fan of Lovely Bones but want something less inspirational in tone, then this might be your book. Unfortunately, despite my love of the woo-woo and supernatural/paranormal/just-plain-odd, I really didn't click with this book's conceit or the narrator. I made it about one hundred pages and quit, daunted by the remaining 300.

There are a few reasons why this didn't work for me, starting with the heroine, Grace. Or maybe it was the writing style first, and then Grace. Told by Grace's disembodied soul while she's in a coma at the hospital following a fire at the school her children attend, she recounts to her husband everything that happened following the fire. As a result, the narrative takes this weird second person POV, 'you' this and 'you' that (which, to be honest, made me wonder if there would be a We Need To Talk About Kevin-esque twist at the end).

Despite being in an incorporeal state, Grace decides to solve the mystery of who or what caused the school fire, which involves eavesdropping, watching television, and thinking back on various events while floating around the hospital with her comatose, disembodied daughter. She admires her family (all pretty and smart and dreamy and sweet) and is pretty smug about her life. Maybe she does more but as I said, I didn't get far into the story.

Scanning GoodReads, it seems opinions are pretty mixed, with some folks who love this one and others who don't. I think it really is matter of whether the writing catches your fancy, so don't take my word necessarily -- you can read an extract at Lupton's website and see if it clicks.  Be sure to follow the blog tour for Afterwards for more opinions and reviews!

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Afterwards to one lucky winner! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 5/11.


  1. I read another review that spoke about the smugness of the main character, and now I am thinking that this one might not be for me. Initially, I was curious about the disembodied roaming of the mother and daughter, but I really dislike motherly smugness, and am not sure I could get past that aspect. Also, I am not really comfortable with that POV. Thanks for being candid. You saved me some money!

    1. I get maternal pride and all (at least, I think I do, not being a mother), but Grace's adoration for her family just got a bit cloying. For a while, I wondered if Lupton was setting her up to be an unreliable narrator because of it, but I think maybe Grace is just supposed to seem really really really devoted to her family.

      The tour starts today so maybe keep an eye on the other reviews, just in case I'm a judgmental hater and totally off-base!

  2. This is too bad. I heard so many good things about Sisters, but what you say about the plot doesn't interest me!

    1. Exactly -- everyone has gone nuts over Sisters so I was very excited about this one!

  3. Great review. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Oh, goodness. I'll be starting this one next and was really looking forward to it because I did enjoy Sisters. I'll approach it with lower expectations and see how I fare. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you!

    1. I noted on GoodReads that a few Sisters fans really loved this one, so it may just be me. I look forward to your review -- and I hope you enjoy this one!

  5. I always enjoy reading your reviews and I'm so used to your enthusiastic support and love of the book your reviewing that I was totally brought up short whan I saw in "Unfinished/Disliked" in your Rating column! Of curious I was intensely curious and undoorstood when I read your review comments. 2nd person POV is tough and generally not a voice I like much. I also don't enjoy paranormal as much as you so when I read the voice is Grace's while she lies in a coma, my reaction was "Huh". I'm sorry this book didn't work for you. I appreciate knowing there's a bit of an excerpt which I'm going to read. I also appreciated and loved your honesty in this review.

    Good luck with your next book, I hope it goes better :o)

    1. It kills me, too, to post a DNF review -- I hate being negative on a book since I'm pretty much in love with most things. I think I was reminded too much of Lovely Bones, another DNF for me, and I just couldn't get past that! :/ Definitely read the excerpt to see if it clicks for you -- some have really loved this one, and it's gotten rave reviews in the UK!

    2. I just have to say I'm so glad I'm not the only one. Lately you and I align on books that most people really enjoy (The Iguana Tree, for example). This book felt manipulative. I actually really enjoyed Sister. Couldn't put it down, in fact. And it worked.

      But she definitely likes her conceits, and this one just didn't work for me. I definitely kept reading and wanted to find out what would happen, but I didn't really enjoy it.

    3. I know -- I hate feeling like the odd one out -- or the grinch -- when I dislike a book everyone else loves but -- this one just did not work for me. It felt manipulative -- but overly so -- and so obviously -- it just felt cheap. I'll try Sisters sometime when I've recovered from this one.

  6. I did like The Lovely Bones so I'd be willing to give this one a try.

  7. I'm reading this right now and it's alright but I'm having trouble with the point of view as well. I feel like it's more difficult than typical second person narrative because it's not ME or herself she's talking to but her husband. Every time I pick it up again it throws me off.

  8. I've only read Sister by this author and liked that book very much. This sounds good as well.

  9. Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you Audra, but thanks for being on the tour.


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