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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking novel that shakes up foundations of school environment
Central High school is succumbed to obey the rules of a crisis counsellor after dramatic killings at nearby school Pleasant Valley.

Picking up this book on a random day out, I found myself blissfully surprised by the wonder of Francine Prose's scripting that shakes up that meaning of drama and crisis.

This novel brings a point of view story from...
Published on 11 July 2009 by Stampy

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing
Initially when I started this book I was enjoying it, mostly. Some of the dialogue from the teenage characters just
didn't ring true for me, like it wasn't things they would actually say or I didn't believe they would talk to each
other in that way. It's hard to describe but I did not find it that believable. The story itself is an interesting
concept...
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Ms. J. Clarke


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking novel that shakes up foundations of school environment, 11 July 2009
By 
This review is from: After (Paperback)
Central High school is succumbed to obey the rules of a crisis counsellor after dramatic killings at nearby school Pleasant Valley.

Picking up this book on a random day out, I found myself blissfully surprised by the wonder of Francine Prose's scripting that shakes up that meaning of drama and crisis.

This novel brings a point of view story from teenager Tom Bishop who, like everyone else at his high school, is affected by the drastic effects of events at Pleasant Valley.

The whole concept of the killings in this novel is refreshingly dramatic and so dark you're wondering if the lights were turned off. Prose has taken modern day much debated ideologies of suicide, drugs, sex, parenthood and politics to make a statement about the environment in which we live. This is certainly one to remember as the issues come thick and fast to a teenager who simply wants his friends and his family.

After, is obviously not the only book to cover issues of teenage difficulty. Alan Gibbons has written some shockingly entertaining books about kids growing up with difficulties, such as The Edge where the central character is often subjected to racist disapproval. Louise Rennison looks at teenage aging as a comedy with hits such as Angus, thongs and full frontal snogging about a teenage girl struggling to adapt to the typical teenage stereotype that surrounds her. So there is certainly a variety when depicting the lives of the teenager and Prose has opted for the dramatic operations of the teenage mind.

Writing in the first person, we are able to see the insecurities and emotions of Tom, the typical teen who wants to chill and carry on with ordinary school life. Tom is a good character to give reflection on the mood of the school and serious situations he and his friends are engulfed in. However he is frequently found to be repetitive and stating the obvious, which can often delay the book moving forward, which is a shame.

Nevertheless there is no delaying the inevitable shocks and turns as the school system goes from bad to worse with drug testing, mysterious disappearances and e-mailing parents that shake up the whole school system and general life of the community.

What impressed me most of all was the shocking climax. As a random of act of determination, vandalism is used as an act of pride against the school's controller from an unlikely source and from there on in we are left with an abrupt ending that is simply terrific for its sudden sharpness and intrigue.

This novel really is a terrific book for this. It is astonishing to think about how such drastic effects at a different school can affect your own. The transition from ordinary, to bad and to worse keeps the momentum of proceedings on an edge with the terrific scripting and colloquial language adding to the gritty realism.

After is a great preacher that shows the astounding ramifications of selfishness and violence that our current world seems to be littered with. Brutally brilliant

9/10
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3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, 28 Jan 2012
By 
This review is from: After (Paperback)
Initially when I started this book I was enjoying it, mostly. Some of the dialogue from the teenage characters just
didn't ring true for me, like it wasn't things they would actually say or I didn't believe they would talk to each
other in that way. It's hard to describe but I did not find it that believable. The story itself is an interesting
concept. Living in the sort of world we live in now it's scary that this sort of thing could happen, that it is a real
possibility. I quite liked her writing stlye and like I say, I enjoyed the story. Then we get to the second half.
It all starts to get a little out of control. Yes it did build tension and I was eager to finish to find out what was
going to happen and why the school was doing what it was doing but unfortunately the author doesn't actually bother
to tell us any of this. We never discover the answers to some very important questions :

1. What has actually happened to the missing kids?
2. How are they brainwashing people with emails?
3. Why are people who haven't been brainwashed more worried?
4. Where did the crisis councillor come from? Whi is he?
5. Why is the government not doing anything?
6. What happens to Tom, Brian and the others?

I guess the whole idea of not telling us anything is to keep it mysterious and more terrifying but really it only succeeds
in annoying the hell out of you! Very few books tie up everything in a neat little bow for you but this just reminded me
of an episode of Lost where you wonder why someone has bothered to tell you half a story. If this was to have a sequel
then I guess the ending would work better.

This review is a little all over the place as to whether I actually liked the book which is how I felt when I finished.
A bit confused. Part of me did really enjoy it, the good parts of it, but another part is a little annoyed that I don't
really feel like it ended. Its like the author got bored or ran out of ideas!

Overall an interesting idea, possibly not executed in the best way, but still worth a read as long as you don't mind
having to decide for yourself what really happened?
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3.0 out of 5 stars ...keeping our community safe. *that's* the point..., 14 Aug 2011
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After (Paperback)
Francine Prose does a good job of getting under the skin of the tribe of teenagers attending Central High, in this promising scenario of paranoia and the scary tactics employed following a shooting at another nearby school, ironically named `Pleasant Valley'. Mr Willner is a professor of clinical psychology drafted in to provide the Central School community with trained, professional guidance. It helps, at first, that he looks a little like Abraham Lincoln and has an unnerving quality that lends him authority. The current headtacher, Mr Trent, is gradually elbowed aside and soon, the only person anyone is allowed to listen to is Mr Willner.

The book focuses on a small group of kids who are intelligent, but also like sports. "We were known as rebels. Sort of. Because there wasn't much to rebel against, we never got into actual trouble." Silas smokes pot on a weekend, but his friends watch out for him, Brian is way too handsome for his own good, and Avery is one of the very few black kids in school who mixes with the white ones. The narrator is Thomas who lives with his Dad and his Dad's girlfriend Clara. His Mom died four years ago in an autowreck. He's not keen on Clara, but she's becoming slowly more acceptable - though he's sure she could never take his mother's place.

Over the next few months the mood of the whole town is going to be infected by the way Mr Willner intrudes into relationships between the pupils, and between the pupils and their parents. So much so that it seems to the rebel kids (who aren't really rebels), that their school is slowly turning into a prison. When does counselling become bullying? When does a shortened book-list become censorship, and will the Central High pupils give in and inform on each other as Mr Willner wants? The kids joke about an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario, but how far is Mr Willner prepared to go?

The ending uneasily straddles a theme taken to its conclusion and something slipping into fantasy. But in the Land of the Free, with the right to arms, the Tea Party and Fox TV News, who knows how likely it might become?
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After by Francine Prose (Paperback - May 2004)
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