Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Publisher: Simone Pulse
Release date: January 7th 2014
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. Thanks!
My rating: 2 out of 5 starsEmma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother -- whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her...and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.
And it may be more than Emma can handle.
Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...
I wanted to like Afterparty. It sounded intriguing, like it would have fascinating, messed-up characters and interesting drama. Sadly, though, that turned out to be the problem with this novel: the characters, while messed-up and potentially intriguing, are underdeveloped and simply annoying, and the drama was overdone and repetitive instead of fun to read about.
Emma is simply not a character I could connect with. She had a lot of potential to be an interesting character, but it just didn't work. Her family background is underdeveloped: I would have liked to see more about her past and her mother, but that is only mentioned in passing, without any kind of insight into the emotional side of this storyline. Her relationship with her dad, too, is underdeveloped: we're always told how overprotective he is, but it seemed overdone to me, and we never get to see any kind of development in that relationship. A lack of development or character growth is one of my main problems with Emma: her struggle with whether to be "good" or "bad" could have been interesting, but it's very underdeveloped, and she goes from relatively innocent to crazy within a page. There is no real development; her fight with herself about being "good" or "bad" is simply repeated over and over again. Even with the underdeveloped characterization, Emma is a character that annoyed me to no end. She's very whiny and melodramatic about her issues: instead of solving anything, she just keeps whining and getting herself into the same stupid situations over and over again.
The secondary characters are just as bad. Siobhan could have been an intriguing character, if we had gotten to know her better and attempted to understand where she is coming from. But we never get any kind of background for her character; she's just "bad" for no reason. The same goes for Dylan: he's supposed to be perfect, but he annoyed me with his indecisiveness and the way that he uses Emma. The relationships are underdeveloped: how did Siobhan and Emma start being friends? How did Emma start liking Dylan? It's instalove, and the friendship equivalent of instalove, and it's all very melodramatic.
Asides from the characters, the preachy tone is what bothered me most about Afterparty. Emma's portrayal of what is right and what is wrong struck me as very judgmental: most of the things Siobhan wants her to do, while not the smartest decisions, aren't things that would make you a bad person. Having sex does not make you a bad person. Staying out late does not make you a bad person. Drinking does not make you a bad person. Smoking weed does not make you a bad person. Doing any drugs does not make you a bad person. No, they're not smart decisions, but Siobhan's drug abuse does not make her a bad person; it just expresses her issues. Emma acts like these things would turn her - and other people who have done comparable things - into a horrible person. Preachy messages like that always bother me.
Afterparty sounded like a great read, but it just didn't work out for me. It might be because I'm just too old for such high-school drama types of books. Then again, some of the topics in the book aren't appropriate to the younger set of YA readers, so I'm not sure what age group this book could be good for. Either way, the melodrama, the annoying characters, and the preachy message made it impossible for me to like Afterparty.