Review: After the Fall by Kate Hart

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

Review: After the Fall by Kate HartAfter the Fall by Kate Hart
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on January 24, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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one-star

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

Rachel Hart could definitely have written a book I would love. There’s evident talent in the writing, and there are moments where the voice really clicks. Unfortunately, I really don’t like the actual story part of After the Fall. By the time I finally got to the end of this slog, I hated it.

The biggest problem is that After the Fall just is not what I thought I’d signed on for. The blurb had me prepared for some CW style pretty people with sexy drama. A love triangle between brothers sounded like potentially fabulous ship trash. While After the Fall is definitely a dramasaurus, it’s not the sexy kind; it’s the sad, mopey, frustrating, infuriating kind. So yeah, I wanted CW drama and I got Lifetime drama. And, just fyi, this book is not actually a romance. Problem #1.

Stylistically, I had trouble with After the Fall. The book switches between Raychel’s POV and her best friend Matt’s. The voice is well done, so I shouldn’t have had any problem telling whose head I was in, but, since the POV sections last at most about three pages, I was forever losing track of which POV I was reading. The fact that the sections are so short and there were no chapters also contributed to me taking a million years to finish this off, because I put it down whenever I didn’t want to read more at the end of a section, and that was a lot.

Raychel and Matt are literally sleeping together, but they do not have sex, much to Matt’s eternal penis feels disappointment. He thinks of her as “his girl,” but has never made a move. Instead he just mopes around while she hooks up with college guys; he’s afraid to tell her his feelings since she has a rule not to date high school guys because they brag around too much. His brother Andrew makes a move, and Raychel and he strike up a relationship.

There’s a lot here about slut-shaming and sexual assault, though I wouldn’t say I find any of it especially deftly handled. Raychel’s sexually assaulted by classmate Carson twice, and she learns, thanks to Matt and Andrew’s mom, that a boy sticking his dick in your mouth without your consent is assault. Carson doesn’t, within the text, come to understand that what he did was wrong, though he has been signed up for a women’s studies class in college, so maybe he’ll get there.

So far as the slut-shaming goes, After the Fall is one of those books where the heroine has a terrible reputation but turns out to be a virgin. It does make a point, but I don’t know how effective it is, when it always feels like “see, she’s not a slut afterall,” rather than clearly embracing sex positivity.

Andrew and Matt’s parents are another problem. They don’t make any damn sense to me. They love Rachel like a daughter, and they let her sleep in Matt’s bed on the regular. Yet, when they learn that she and Andrew had sex, the mom freaks the fuck out about not in her house and yells at Rachel. There’s no way a mom like this would let a girl sleep in her son’s bed, even if she does dream of them getting married someday. So then the whole Dawson’s Creek bed buddies thing feels like a cheap plot device so the blurb can sell this book to trash like me with the “she’s sleeping with two brothers” half-truth. Also, after that point, I can only find the parents thoroughly hateful.

Speaking of characters, I feel bad for Raychel and Andrew’s kinda okay. Andrew loses points for not asking Raychel what happened with Carson, but he gets points for actually recognizing sexual assault when they do talk. Matt’s the biggest asshole on the planet and Raychel needs to never talk to him again. As I mentioned, his parents are whatever the dramasaurus plot needs them to be at a given time. The fairly large cast of friends is only there to move the plot along and give advice to the MCs. A paragon of character development this book is not.

I’d been sort of enjoying After the Fall in a crack way up until the 2/3 point. Then a thing happens. View Spoiler » This thing completely interrupts the narrative flow and changes the dynamics of the story. Character growth is interrupted, and After the Fall becomes a completely different kind of book. Reading everything that came before, the part I’d liked was suddenly pointless, because now everything was about this.

The resolution does redeem After the Fall a wee bit, View Spoiler », but I was just way too done with this book by that point. The character arcs do finally happen, and I’m glad Matt got called out by literally everyone for being an asshole, but it wasn’t satisfying. I still have the sense that I’m meant to like Matt, in spite of his flaws, but all I want is to dickpunch him. The fact that Raychel apologizes to Matt over and over for wanting someone else’s dick makes me hulk out. Most frustrating of all, I feel like the whole novel is more about Matt than it is Raychel. All so one stupid asshole white boy can learn about sexual assault and what it means to be a real friend. Blergh.

After the Fall has a lot of great reviews and buzz. Maybe it will be your thing, but it sure as hell was not mine.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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2 responses to “Review: After the Fall by Kate Hart”

  1. Angie says:

    Bless you for this. Now I know I can happily skip this & toss it into my to-donate pile. I am not here for any lifetime drama shenanigans.

  2. Matt’s eternal penis feels disappointment. lol Yeah, this whole thing sounds excessively dramatic and just lazy storytelling altogether. I’ll def be skipping this one but thanks for the giggles.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Steamy GoodnessMy Profile

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