Afterwards I was disappointed

I read Rosamund Lupton’s ‘Sister’ earlier this year and loved it. I thought it was an incredible debut so I was waiting with bated breath to get stuck into her second novel, ‘Afterwards’ which I did with exceedingly high hopes, last week.

Talk about second book blues.

It’s not that I hated it; I didn’t. I actually quite liked it and I think that if I hadn’t liked ‘Sister’ so much I probably wouldn’t have found as much to grumble about with this but I did like ‘Sister’ and consequently and sadly, I have a few complaints about this second offering. It just didn’t measure up and ok, maybe I should be judging it for it’s own merits and maybe I shouldn’t be making the comparisons but I can’t help it. Rosamund Lupton set her own standards and she set them high and now it seems she’s wanting to lower the bar somewhat and that makes me very sad. It’s like the super bright kid at school who’s not pulling his weight. The end of term report for ‘Afterwards’ would read ‘could do better.’

Whereas ‘Sister’ felt precise and researched and well developed, ‘Afterwards’ felt rushed. I didn’t feel like the book had been written for the love of the story, more like Lupton had spent her advance on Jimmy Choo’s and had people screaming in her ear for a manuscript. Shit, that’s a catty comment. Sorry. It’s just, I can’t quite grasp the concept of the main plot, which I don’t want to spoil for people that haven’t read it and whilst I am aware that it might be because it’s not my thing – I can think of other books I’ve slated that go down the same line – it doesn’t take away from the fact that I don’t think it was particularly well done and it aggravated me to a point that it took away from the elements I did like.

I also cannot be doing with OTT gushing declarations of undying love. Ever. It gets my goat when I see it all over Facebook for instance. Seriously. There is such a thing as over-sharing, guys. I’d like to make it clear here that I am not dead inside. I don’t shake my fist at a bit of romance, but when it’s incessant, in-your-face, someone elses romance yeah, it bugs me. I mean I know I am guilty of the odd love note on Ian’s wall if I know he’s having a bad day and I want to make him smile or a ‘love you’ status on an anniversary or an “I miss Ian” when he’s away but those are few and far between because my love for Ian is for me and Ian. Not me and Ian and the hundreds of other poor souls who will be vomiting their way down their news feeds. Besides which, why would I want to share my deepest feelings for my boyfriend with the world? If you love someone, tell them you love them but don’t ram it down the throats of everyone else, please? In all honesty, I always feel a little sorry for those people who feel the need to update their Facebook every two minutes to tell the world how amazing their other half is, how loved up they are, how OMGSOHAPPY they are. It feels a little like they have something to prove. Who’re you trying to convince, love? Maybe I’m overly cynical, or maybe my romance button is broken, I don’t know. All I know is I do not want to read it, and am so very glad my boyfriend doesn’t feel the need to indulge in those over-exaggerated love-fests. But, back to the point. At times, ‘Afterwards’ is a little like one of those Facebook news feeds. & it’s just too much. Lupton pulls off the stomach-churningly gushing ‘oh how I love the people I love more than all the rivers that flow’ about as well as Stephenie Meyer does and we all know how I feel about that. Actually, I bet it’s her fault. How does it go again Jen? Keep calm and blame Twilight?

& another thing: Lupton's habit of italicising things she wanted us to realise were important got annoying really fast, possibly because I'm not stupid and possibly because the parts she higlighted didn't need highlighting. That bugged me.

And that was a bit of a rant. Whoops. I really didn't mean it to be because I really don't hate this book. I don't even dislike it. I promise. What I actually wanted to say was that whilst it was (italics, sorry. ha) disappointing and it wasn’t as good as ‘Sister’ it was an enjoyable read and it was, despite what I may have led you to believe. Lupton is very good at suspense and writes a whodunit very well. There were enough red herrings in here to keep the greediest fisherman happy and plenty of twists and turns and I liked that. I liked that every time I thought I’d figured it out she laughed in my face and changed direction. I liked that throughout the book I was all ‘no, it can’t be him, it’s too obvious…oh, maybe it is him….no, no it’s not him…maybe she wants me to think it’s not him, maybe it’s a double bluff….’ I liked that I hadn’t figured out who the bad guy was within the first 100 pages. I liked that all the way through it kept me guessing and I like that it surprised me. I did fly through it, and I did find myself keeping it close to me so I could pick it up whenever I had a spare second because I did want to know what was going to happen. I’d give it 6/10 which isn’t too shoddy at all and I’m looking forward to whatever Lupton does next. I just hope it’s a bit better than this.

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