Demitria Lunetta’s In the After: YA Post-Apocalyptic Debut!
July 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
Being more than a little bit obsessed with the end of the world, I often research new post-apocalyptic novels. Trawling Goodreads recently, I came across In the After, debut novel by Demetria Lunetta. It was love at first synopsis.
In the After follows teenager Amy as she finds her feet in what is left of her world, now that They have come and taken everything she’s ever known. Thanks to the respective paranoia and forward thinking of her parents, Amy’s home is fortified against the mindless, flesh-eating creatures that brought the apocalypse with them when they arrived on Earth. They are hideous, unthinking beings that don’t bother killing their prey before the devour it, but they have one weakness that Amy has been able to discern – they are dependent on sound to find their next meal.
Amy comes upon a toddler wandering the wreckage of her neighbourhood and adopts her as a sister in silence. Not being able to speak aloud, she names her Baby, and Baby becomes Amy’s reason for living. They develop a modified sign language, designed to allow them to communicate in the direst of situations, and for a while, they are content.
Amy and Baby’s insular world is shattered all over again when they are forced to leave their home. In the open terrain, they are picked up by members of a covert society which houses the remains of human civilisation, a community optimistically named New Hope.
Re-integrating into a structured society proves more difficult than Amy and Baby ever expected. In a world where 3000 people may be all that remains to repopulate the planet, government is oppressive in entirely new ways. On top of that, New Hope is being run by a psychiatrist who has access to everything about everyone, and absolute discretion. Amy and Baby may have been better off in the wild…
In some places, In the After had me jumping out of my skin. ‘They”, or the Floraes, as they are known later in the book, are quite frightening, and there were several moments of skin-crawling terror as Amy and Baby navigated the wasteland, especially in the first half of the book. One night, I was reading in the quiet in my bedroom. When my boyfriend came into the room, I jumped and nearly fell out of the bed, so engrossed was I in the book’s tension! In the second half of In the After, the use of a flash-forward narrative device made for some hair-raising suspense, so it was an enjoyably uncomfortable read the whole way through.
Not content with the horrific Floraes or the wild gangs roaming the After, Lunetta incorporates scenes of torturous psychotherapy in New Hope’s Ward (a sanitarium of sorts). The psychiatrist Dr Reynolds makes for a formidable foe, and the stronghold he has on New Hope is tyrannical. However, I felt that I should mention that electric shock therapy is NOTHING like its portrayal in this novel. I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt, in that, once the world has ended, there probably aren’t medical standards by which to abide. Of course, creative license plays a huge part in a post-apoc novel, given that we can only imagine conditions after such an event. That said, I didn’t enjoy these scenes, because I felt that they contributed to a negative conception of a form of therapy which has the capacity to genuinely help many people.
Like Angelfall, I respected this book for having very little focus on romance. This makes sense to me. Surely, once the world you knew has collapsed, you are not going to be concerned with whether the cute boy likes you?! I liked how Amy’s priority was Baby, and how the end of the world necessitated a re-assignment of the definition of family. Baby also lent an interesting perspective to the story. It’s fascinating to see her adaptation to her constantly changing surroundings develop and grow.
“Mermaids are just a story, I tell her. She looks up at me, tearful. No they’re not. Mermaids are from Before. Like horses. You said horses could live in the sea.
Seahorses aren’t horses that live in the sea… I start to explain but stop myself. It doesn’t really matter if she has the Before straight in her head. She can believe in mermaids and horses that live in the sea if she wants.”
I feel that if this book had been at least twice its length, I’d have become even more invested in its world. The plot was full of twists and turns which, while exciting, felt a little rushed. That said, it’s an exciting ride, and an end-of-days I’m excited to read more about. Demitria Lunetta is definitely one to watch, and I’ve added In the End to my sequel-countdown!
If you’re interested in what electroconvulsive therapy is genuinely like, check out Caustic Soda’s Psychotherapy episode. Caustic Soda is my favourite podcast, and I listen to it religiously. Be warned, though – it’s not for the faint-hearted (or easily offended)!