Emma 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…
First off, I want to thank Ann Stampler for reaching out to me and providing me with an advanced copy of this book, even though shipping to Canada is a nightmare. I’d been waiting to read Afterparty for the past year (mainly because of the gorgeous cover), so I’m glad I got to read it ahead of time! I enjoyed it, and I understand that ARCs are still rough around the edges, but there were still some parts that I wish were more… well-developed.
I really like how the book started off with the “ending at the beginning.” A lot of times, it builds a lot of suspense but winds up being predictable or otherwise not meeting expectations. For a long time, I really thought Emma would fulfill her end of the deal. The actual moment caught me off guard, which was good. I think this book was huge on the “SHOCK FACTOR,” which was a bit much at times. High school students were portrayed unrealistically, because that kind of debauchery simply does not happen. And especially by SUCH a large portion of the school. No one was “innocent” or uninvolved in some seriously messed up stuff unless they were portrayed as a freak (Arif, Megan…). And I can’t imagine Emma’s dad was so clueless, especially since he’d kept her on such a short leash for so long.
Emma’s progression over the course of the novel was interesting though. I felt like there were a lot of baby steps and gates and rites of passage she had to hurdle over, but there was one sizeable jump somewhere in the middle. All of a sudden, she went from doing pretty tame things to doing super-hard stuff. I wish there was more of a gradual progression there.
Siobhan was a largely “toxic” friend, and I liked how Emma still cared about her friend despite everything they went through. Emma was an enabler for a lot of bad behaviour, and the downward spiral Siobhan took made sense. I kind of wish the consequences for Siobhan’s actions wound up less optimistically, but I understand its necessity for Emma to get solid closure.
I also wasn’t really a fan of Emma’s resulting relationship with Dylan. A lot of inexcusable behaviour went down from both ends, and I don’t really think their love could be “everlasting.” Honestly, I’d be skeptical of getting together with someone willing to date your best friend first, regardless of his claims or the other struggles in his life.
Despite some issues with the relationships in the novel, I still left it feeling a great sense of catharsis. A lot of it is about dealing with consequences for poor decisions, and trying to find peace-of-mind from there. Emma’s young, and I left the book believing she was in a better place.
- Dreamland – Sarah Dessen
- Lock and Key – Sarah Dessen
- Where It Began – Ann Redisch Stampler
- One Night That Changes Everything – Lauren Barnholdt (have you ever seen its original cover?)
**Note: Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler is available for purchase on January 7, 2014.**