Publication Date: June 7th, 2011
I was so excited to get a NetGalley of Hereafter. It's been on my radar for quite some time now, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was even better than I expected. I think it may be tied with Nightshade as my favorite read by a debut author since I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth many, many books ago...
Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
This book had me from the first page. Tara Hudson manages to draw you in right away and hold your attention to the point that not only can you not put the book down, but you continue to hash it out in your mind once the book ends.
As the synopsis suggests, this book is a paranormal romance, but it's much more than that. It's a ghost story, and most of all, a mystery. The protagonist knows nothing about her past. Not her last name, not what type of person she was, not her age, not how long she's been dead. She doesn't even know what the circumstances surrounding her death were. She is totally clueless. She wanders around, alone, trying to make sense of everything. She doesn't see any other ghosts and living people can't see her. All she knows is that her first name is Amelia and that she died from drowning. How does she know that she died from drowning? She has nightmares of the event often, where she is one place, and then suddenly falls asleep to wake up in the river reliving her death. It is one such nightmare that brings her into the life of Joshua, a living boy. She connects with him while saving his life in the same river she died in. After Joshua dies and is revived with her help, he is able to see , hear, talk to, even feel her; something that hasn't happened to her yet, and she's intrigued...and so the romance begins. Enter those who want to prevent this from happening: Eli, a sinister spirit who has his own designs on Amelia. Joshua's grandmother, who can also see Amelia, thinks she's and abomination, and wants to exorcise her from the living world. While battling against these threats, Joshua and Amelia embark on a quest to find out who she is, what she is all about, and why she drowned. This is where the story gets really interesting, and this is where I'll stop... Trust me, you don't want to know any more because you will want to read it yourself!
This book was fabulous! I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and although I had the same nagging question in my mind ("Just how are they going to make this relationship "real", and exactly how is the whole intimacy thing going to work out when she's a ghost and he's alive?"), I never once felt like this plot lacked plausibility. I am thoroughly entrenched in this story, and will be waiting on pins and needles for the 2nd book in the series (which is so far out that it doesn't have a name or a Goodreads synopsis, let alone a release date). If you like a good ghost story, this book is a MUST read!
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+
Grade Level Recommendation: I would let my rising 5th grader read this without a second thought, and I would have a year or more ago. There is no sex or language. There is some teen drinking (there a couple of HS keg parties, both of which have disastrous consequences), benign romantic episodes like kissing, and there are some pretty detailed descriptions of scary events. Otherwise, it is as clean as a whistle. I would say ages 9+ (4th grade and up), as long as the kid doesn't scare easily.