Oh my. This book was something else.
After by Anna Todd, originally a WattPad One Direction fan-fiction, is an almost 600-page novel that follows Tessa Young in her first semester of college. Tessa’s first experience in college was unique to most yet such a cliche at the same time. Clean cut, innocent Tessa is roomed with her badass and polar opposite roommate, Steph, whose friends are always hanging around, each looking more dangerous than the last– womanizer, Hardin Scott being the worst of them all. For unexplainable reasons, Tessa feels an attraction to Hardin that she has never felt before, even with her boyfriend of 2 years, Noah. After is a documentation of Tessa’s love for Hardin regardless of circumstance, red flags, or people in her life looking after her and telling her “no.” HOW ROMANTIC.
Some notes before I tear this book apart:
- I read this for basically the same reason most booktubers/bloggers are currently: for the entertainment of saying you did it
- I regret this decision.
- This book has A LOT OF SMUT if you are sensitive to that content, skip it
- TW: emotional abuse/abusive relationships
- The E-book version available on Scrib’d, where I read it, was almost 700 pages. Again, I regret reading this.
Okay, let’s get this over with.
Plot— What plot? There was a plot??? I missed it entirely. The only plot points I could think of while writing this review was 1) Tessa goes to school 2) Tessa is a judgemental prick about Steph and her friends 3) Tessa wants to fuck Hardin 4) Tessa cheats on Noah 5) Tessa gets mad at Hardin 6) Repeat plot points 3 and 5 alternatively for 400 pages. However, using those few points of action, it still wasn’t good. THE ENTIRE FIRST 100 PAGES follow Tessa being judgemental about Steph and her friends, who were nothing but nice and welcoming and then complaining about not having anything to do because she doesn’t want to see Hardin. Once there “relationship” progresses, the plot shifts to Tessa getting mad at Hardin for existing outside of their relationship, not that I’m defending him at all, and slut-shaming Molly for literally existing. That’s it. That’s the entire plot. Oh! And Hardin fetishizing, shaming, and abusing Tessa all in the same breath. There. That’s the plot.
Characters: SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE OKAY LETS GO.
Tessa: Possibly the whiniest, most 2-dimensional character in YA, and boy, is that saying something. Tessa’s personality essentially is her being smart, organized, a kiss-up, innocent and virginal, and hating Hardin. She spends her entire first semester of college rebelling against her mom and who she was, which is normal, but she took it somewhere it didn’t need to go. She blamed her being the way she is on her mom expecting her to be a certain way, which may be the case; however, there was nothing wrong with the way she was. The issue wasn’t fleshed out enough to matter. AND HOW SHE TREATED NOAH. OKAY THAT’S A LITTLE RUDE TO BASICALLY TELL YOUR BOYFRIEND OF TWO YEARS THAT FUCKING THIS GUY IS MORE IMPORTANT. Also! When she was with Hardin, she was controlling of him, or tried to be, but also wanted him to control her, but didn’t want that at the same time, and she was the most cliche and annoying “protagonist.”
Hardin: Oh here we go. Hardin is absolute garbage. There is NO redeemable quality to him. None. He was flat out rude to everyone, aggressive, abusive to Tessa, manipulative of basically everyone but more specifically, Tessa, moody, and so childish it hurt. He wanted to control Tessa at EVERY point. He also bullied her constantly. The one thing that really stuck out to me about Hardin was his ability to fetishize her and shame her simultaneously. HOW MANY TIMES DID HE HAVE TO MENTION THAT HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD MAKE HER CUM??? It was unnecessary. He LOVED how pure and innocent she was yet also shamed her for being embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about sex. He also doesn’t like being told no and physically pouted about her not letting him shower with her. Seriously? OH MY FAVORITE THING was that he was the bad boy who has slept with everyone, right? Then why could Tessa, the inexperienced and virginal 18 year old, make him cum by rubbing his dick for 2 seconds over his pants? I’m sorry but if you have all this experience you say you do, YOU SHOULD LAST A LITTLE LONGER.
Noah: I mean we never really got to know him, but it was still fucked up that Tessa cheated on him and professed her love for Hardin right in front of him, not that she owes him anything but like… come on.
Landon: The only good person within the entire book…and I’m still bothered that Tessa just bailed on him.
No other character really had anything to add to the story so…that’s that.
Problems: Honestly, we’re just going to list these because I don’t have the patience to form coherent thoughts.
-“He changed my life in ways that no amount of college prep courses or youth group could have….” okay….sure.
-Hardin asked her if she was OCD when he was throwing her stuff around her room and she responded that she wasn’t crazy…..I have a lot of issues with this one.
-Were we seriously supposed to feel bad for Tessa for cheating on Noah?
-“I love this damaged, self-loathing asshole so much that I’m afraid it will crush me.”
-WHAT KIND OF COLLEGE LETS YOU CHANGE YOUR CLASSES ALL THE TIME????
-“His eyes never leave my chest after catching sight of my strapless bra. He always makes me feel so beautiful and wanted.” Um….
-“We’ve got to get you on birth control so I can stop using condoms.” What. A. Guy.
Anyways, in case it wasn’t clear…I hated this book. This review took me like 2 weeks to write because it infuriated me to think about it this much.