Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: After the Woods by Kim SavageAfter the Woods by Kim Savage
on February 23, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 305
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

Going into After the Woods, I wasn’t really in the mood. Mysteries aren’t my genre of choice, and I very much wanted something fluffy and shippy. Still, I went ahead to give it a try. Well, this is one of those times where my rampant egalley grabbing paid off, because After the Woods turned out to be such a pleasant surprise. And by pleasant, I mean psychologically messed up.

I can explain in one word why I liked this book so much and binged it from the beginning to the end: Julia. It doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is or what I was or was not in the mood for if a novel gives good voice. Julia’s voice captured me immediately, and I couldn’t put the book down.

You guys may already know that I have a deep, abiding love for sarcastic, smart, bitchy heroines. So it’s no shock that I adore Julia. She’s incredibly bright and generally considered macabre by all who know her, since her reaction to her kidnapping almost a year ago was to become obsessed with researching kidnappings and sociopaths. Julia refuses to be a victim the way everyone expects her to be, meeting their platitudes with sarcastic rejoinders that set everyone on edge. My favorite thing about After the Woods is the focus on the fact that everyone recovers from traumatic experiences in their own way. There’s no cookie cutter response.

The interpersonal relationships are really interesting, though generally don’t go quite as deep as I’d like. The toxic friendship between Liv and Julia is arresting, and Julia’s burgeoning friendship with Alice is suprisingly interesting too. I like that Bible-thumper Alice doesn’t fit the stereotype. The romance with Kellan is super cute, but it’s not the focus of the story. I think if the book had been longer and dealt with this more, I might have shipped this very strongly, which bodes well for my chances of liking future books by Savage.

What I’m less sure about is the plot. On the one hand, I definitely found it compelling, and, again, I could not put the back down. I’d called the overall plot arc early on, but I wasn’t expecting every turn along the way. View Spoiler » Basically, the ending came really quickly and kind of anti-climactically for all of the build-up.

The one thing I do like about the strangeness of the ending is how hard Julia is to pin down. She really doesn’t think like I do or, I suspect, most people do. And it’s cool because it doesn’t feel like Julia being out of character but just that she reacts to things so differently than other people do. Like she discusses with her therapist at the start, everything’s not black and white. Now that I’m done, I find it a rather strange novel, but mostly in a good way. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know how I feel about the ending plot-wise though.

After the Woods has voice and a cute ship and also twists and a sarcastic heroine, so yeah it’s worth a read imo.

Favorite Quote:

“Sometimes, the traumatic event is re-experienced over and over, in the form of dreams, or during the day, as intrusive thoughts. Do you have thoughts, Julia?”

“Never. I never think,” I say, grinning.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif bitch christina aguilera

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