Sunday, June 11, 2017

After the Fall by Kate Hart (Review)

Release date: January 24th, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Pages: 336

Description (from Goodreads):

A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

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.

After the Fall has been on my radar for what feels like forever, which made it one of my most expected 2017 releases. The synopsis instantly caught my attention when I first read it, because it kind of reminded of something I have read before, for example by Courtney Summers.

Raychel is seventeen and living in a college town she cannot wait to leave behind her. She lives with her mother, is no stranger to financial problems, and feels like her plans for the future are increasingly becoming just a distant dream than something that could actually happen to her. 

There are two guys on Raychel's life -- her best friend Matt and his brother Andrew. While Matt seems like the "obvious" choice for her, she navigates towards Andrew. Matt is safe and more than eager to protect her, but maybe that is not what she is really looking for. 

In addition to Matt and Andrew, there is a classmate who sexually assaults Raychel, which understandably complicates her relationships with men. Who can she trust? Does she need someone to save her, or can she save herself? Does she need to be saved in the first place? 

After the Fall is written in dual narration format and switches between the points of view of Raychel and Matt. I really liked Raychel as a narrator but found myself annoyed by a large portion of Matt's parts, but I think that was something Hart tried to do in the first place. At first, Matt is introduced as this "ideal" guy, but the more we hear of his thoughts, it becomes clear that he is one of those guys who thinks that being "good" excuses him from the shit he says. 

Andrew is much less responsible in comparison to Matt, but not trying too hard to be "good" actually makes him so much more likable, and it is clear to see why Raychel finds herself wanting to get closer to him.

In addition to being dually narrated, the novel is also divided into two parts, with the first part being much stronger. 

After the Fall deals with feminism and rape culture, both important topics and ones everyone should be aware of. As Raychel gets assaulted by a classmate, questions of what actually constitutes sexual assault, what consent means, etc. are ones Raychel tries to find an answer to, and in connection the assault the novel quite brilliantly brings up the things schools should teach students about sexual assault -- maybe rather than paying attention to what girls wear, educators should focus on telling about, for example, consent. 

After the Fall is definitely not a happy, breezy, easy to read young adult contemporary novel. The struggle Raychel goes through broke my heart, and the parts focused on her assault and its aftermath made me hate this world and the way it treats its young girls/women. 

I desperately wanted to give this novel four stars, but unfortunately,  I found myself losing interest towards the end of the second part. The first part is written exceptionally well, and the second part just cannot follow that. If the synopsis catches your attention, I definitely recommend you give this a try, though -- just be prepared to be annoyed with Matt.