Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Purchase links: Amazon
Description (from Goodreads):
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.
Kirkus calls After the Woods "A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect." (starred review, Nov. 1, 2015)
The process of writing this review will most likely look something very much like this...
... BECAUSE AFTER THE WOODS WAS PERFECTION AND I SUCK AT EXPRESSING MY LOVE FOR THINGS.
Those that frequent at my blog or read my reviews on Goodreads have probably noticed that YA contemporary is my jam! But while I read a lot of contemporary, the books I pick out usually tend to be more of a romantic nature or coming-of-age stories rather than mysteries and thrillers. I think in fact that this was only the second YA mystery/thriller I've read during 2015. If all YA mysteries/thrillers I've read before would have left me feeling like this, mysteries and thrillers would be the only thing I read.
When Julia sacrificed herself to save the life of her best friend Liv, she never thought she would be alive a year later. She never planned to be a hero, but her instincts kicked in, and she wanted to save the one person she loved her most. But now, a year later, Liv is not the same girl she used to be, and it almost seems like Liv was the one who had to go through the horrors of the kidnapping, not Julia.
Julia remembers her time from the woods only in flashbacks. When a body of a girl is found from the same woods Julia went through her personal hell, new memories start to surface, and though at points it feels like she would like to keep them suppressed, she wants to know what happened to her, especially after it starts to look like Liv might not have told Julia everything she knows about the events a year before.
Kim Savage's pacing is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The way she has put this story together kept me on my toes and aggressively pressing the next page-button on my Kindle, just so I could know more. Like Julia, who loves research and facts, I was dying to know what happened to her and how some of the people closest to her might have been involved. Pacing is one of those things that I don't even mention in most of my reviews, but seriously, the way that Kim Savage does it deserves ALL THE PRAISE. I haven't seen pacing as brilliant as this for a long time (probably the last book that made me this excited about pacing was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr).
There was also a complete, absolutely fantastic surprise hidden within the pages of this book. It was something I didn't expect at all, but once it came to my attention, I looked like that heart-eyed emoji. THERE IS A GUY WHO PLAYS HOCKEY IN THIS BOOK! If you know me at all, I am obsessed with hockey. Alongside books, movies and television, hockey is my greatest passion. The moment I was informed that Kellan is a hockey player I literally reacted like Jason Sudeikis as a devil in that gif.
The relationship between Julia and Kellan is a great addition to the overall narrative of the novel and I really liked how well Savage was able to balance the two without making the book "only about the kidnapping" or "only about the romance". Kellan plays a role in Julia's attempt to remember what happened, but she also allows her to step out of her reality just for a while and forget what happened to her. In short, Kellan allows her to be a "normal" teenage girl with a crush for a while, not the girl who saved her friend and spent time with a kidnapper.
With mysteries, I usually end up figuring out the whole thing before the last page. If there are strange concepts of words in the novel, I take time off from reading and end up researching the heck out of everything I don't know. I am obsessed with knowledge and facts and research, and very often with mysteries, I spend much more time trying to figure out the mystery than enjoying the ride. With After the Woods, I was so immersed with the characters, the writing and the aforementioned incredible pacing that I didn't really focus on solving the mystery, but I rather wanted to follow the process that Julia goes through. It was a strange reading experience, to some extent, but also a very exciting one. The book remains mysterious until the last page and alongside it the pacing just keep doing its incredible job.
The moment I finished with After the Woods, my initial reaction was "I WANT MORE". More of Kim Savage's writing, more mysteries, more hockey playing guys with weird senses of humor. I was completely satisfied with the ending of After the Woods, but at the same time, I was incredibly bummed that it was over, because I had such a great time reading it. I am so incredibly excited to see what Savage comes up with next because this one left me uncontrollably flailing from awesomeness.
- Once again, I need to bring up the pacing of this novel because really, it is incredible. The way Savage brings together all of the elements of the story into this intriguing piece of literature is just... ALL I CAN DO IS FANGIRL.
- YA seriously needs more hockey guys because hockey guys are the best! Are you a fan of football playing love interests? HOCKEY GUYS ARE MUCH DREAMIER AND HAVE BETTER BUTTS.