Top critical review
Toxic Depiction of a Young Adult Relationship
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2020
I am not someone who writes reviews; however I think it important for me to review this book.
I watched After on Netflix and enjoyed the movie. I thought there was a touch of codependency between the two characters but overall, I liked it. This led me to skip the first novel in the series (thinking that the movie explained what I needed to know) and I could pick up with the second novel.
I quickly learned that the movie and the novel are NOT the same. The relationship between Hardin and Tessa is toxic. These novels do not focus on love or romance. Hardin is possessive, jealous, controlling, violent, and emotionally and mentally abusive. I thought the theme of the novel was IPV (intimate partner violence) until I finished the second book and Googled the rest of the series to learn that this is meant to be a “love story.”
I’m concerned that this is what young readers will think of as romantic, especially since this novel is written in both perspectives. The author writes about how the characters both feel for one another. So while their words and actions are absolutely unloving and toxic, we are let into their minds where all they think about is how in love they are with one another.
There are seldom moments of happiness between the two leads. Their personal lives revolve around their fights and breakups. They are not individuals. I just have to reiterate how unhealthy the relationship is between Hardin and Tessa.
If the author was making a commentary on the dangers of a toxic relationship, this book would have received 5 stars from me. Unfortunately, this book romanticizes the notion that a person can treat you terribly, remove people from your life, and control your every move and it means they really love you.