Title: After Obsession
Genre: Horror, paranormal romance, young adult
The gist: "After Obsession" is like if you took Bella and Jacob from the Twilight series, made them awesome, and then threw them into "Poltergeist," but with kayaks and a river.
Initial attraction: The only reason I wanted to read this book was because I had the pleasure of hearing Carrie Jones speak at the NYC Teen Author Carnival 2011 and she was so funny that I decided then and there to read her books--no matter how unappealing the covers or back cover summaries.
Cover art: I am incapable of looking at this cover and thinking anything except “Man hands! Man hands! Man hands alert! Look at those hands, they are totally the hands of a dude. Why on earth does that floating chick have man hands?” But don’t let the disproportionate floating girl on the cover dissuade you from reading the book. It’s better on the inside.
Aimee has good grades, great friends, and a hot boyfriend. But she also has secrets. Like the violent dreams that are almost prophetic. Or the real reason behind her Mom’s death.
Alan is new in town. Rugged, sexy, with a hint of Southern charm, he and Aimee connect immediately. Bye-bye boyfriend. But Alan has his own secrets. His Native American heritage gives him mystical, unlikely abilities. Not the kind of thing you show off in front of the cafeteria.
But it’s not Aimee or Alan who is in trouble. It’s Courtney--Alan’s cousin, and Aimee’s best friend. She’s consumed by a strange demon. Alan says there are four stages: Invitation. Then Infestation. Obsession, and finally, Possession. Aimee and Alan must figure out what to do, and quickly. Because once the demon takes full possession, there’s no saving Courtney--or anyone else...
The best part: The voice of the characters is down to earth and humorous, but also appropriate during the creepy bits. Even though it’s two different authors writing the voices seem similar enough to be seamless.
The worst part: The worst part is the man hands on the cover--once you notice them you can’t un-notice them. The second worst part is the speed at which the characters throw themselves into each other and spill all their secrets. It’s actually done in a rather believably teen-esque sort of way, but mature readers may find themselves asking why characters never get to know one another before the swoon-fest starts.
Characters: Aimee and Alan were likeable enough however the problem character for me was Courtney, the person they were both working to save. The reader never really gets to see her when she’s normal and it’s hard to be emotionally invested in saving her when all we see is the broken and possessed version of her. The secondary characters were largely undeveloped but the bits we do see of them are great. The grandfather and younger brother are especially awesome and often ease the creepy tension with their give and take that seems like a comedy routine. While the speed at which Aimee and Alan fall for each other is annoying, the romance that happens between them while under the extreme duress of ghosts and possessions and creepy things is sweet and leaves the reader rooting for them.
Plot: The story was a bit slow to get off the ground with the creepy, ghosty, horror-ness of it building in the background of the characters' romance, but that increased the scare factor because you knew something is coming but you never knew what or when.
Setting: The book is set in a small seaside town in Maine where the industry is very focused on the ocean and the recreational activities center around the river. This is a great setting for a ghost story, especially as autumn sets in and the weather is rainy and growing colder here, as well as in the story. It gives a flavor of subtle, creeping horror, rather than gruesome, gory, explicitly violent horror.
Writing style: The book alternates between Aimee and Alan as first person narrators, with Jones writing the female perspective and Wedel writing the male protagonist. The author’s voices are well matched and complement each other nicely, however Jones won me over as a reader in person, leaving me questioning why I haven’t read her pixie series yet. Any author who can leave me snorting with laughter on the floor of a library wins some of my reading time.
“After Obsession is a 1st-person, present-tense point of view novel with alternating narrators. There is nothing in that sentence that would indicate how much I would come to love this book by the end.” - Maria D'Isidoro
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Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release date: September 2011
Purchase the book here.