Updated: Apr 6
Ahhh romance, something that literally encompasses love yet we have feelings of hatred towards romance, why? Have we been hurt? Do you think true love doesn't exist? Or do we long to be loved and aren't so we reflect that towards the closest emotion possible, hate?
"Wise men say, only fools rush in. But I can't help, falling in love with you. Shall I stay? Or would it be a sin," Elvis Presley.
As I scrolled down Netflix trying to find a movie to watch I stumbled across a sexy cover of a movie called After. I watched the movie, fell in love, and researched only to be ecstatic to find out this started as a fan-fiction on Wattpad and got published into a real book series. . I read all the books, became completely obbsessed with the main characters and realized how much I hate the movie because it doesn't do the book justice. The movie is PG-13 and this book is RATED R TO THE MAX, hence the movie censors so much important stuff. There is a second movie coming out and this time it's supposed to be rated R so fingers crossed that it'll give justice to the novel. So here's my book review on After
Hardin, a British troubled boy with a messed up childhood meets Tessa, a shy but sassy freshman. Hardin inked his body from head to toe and has piercings, a classic bad boy. Long story short he makes a bet with his friends that he could take Tessa's virginity which leads him to hanging out with her. But he starts feeling these emotions he's kept locked away and realizes he dug himself in some deep shit because he actually likes her now.
It's not just a story about this drama filled relationship but includes their families who have backgrounds with alcoholism, drug abuse, and rape. This series doesn't shy from integrating us fully into the lives of an alcoholic or addict and it's an interesting perspective trying to understand what's going on in people's minds who deal with addiction or trauma. Hardin lives with his dad in America going to school in Washington (where Tessa goes too). He has a step-brother Landon who becomes EVERYONES favorite. Landon is BFFLS with Tessa and just a breath of fresh air from all the fucked up characters.
The series starts with the book After and ends with Before, which is what I just finished. Before is a solid wrap up of the series. It goes back through the first book in Hardin's perspective but also gives other character's perspectives and backgrounds like Landon and Molly.
ALL THE NOVELS HAVE SO MUCH SEX. It's like Fifty Shades of Grey and the sex scenes make it 1000x more intimate and personal. The author doesn't shy from any kind of language and I applaud her for it because she's being just honest with how life really is. Hardin curses in every sentence and I'm all there for it.
You can tell the author has a background in literary romance because both main characters in the novel read and talk about romantic classics like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. This gets me thinking about modern romance and older romance and something really hasn't changed; this attraction of the "bad boy." In Wuthering Heights Catherine is attracted to Heathcliff (bad boy), in Pride and Prejudice Emily Bennet is attracted to Mr. Darcy (bad boy).
What is it in romance that makes a woman attracted to a "bad boy." Is it weirdly our motherly instinct where we want to fix and nurture the hurt? Is it just some weird fantasy we have? Is it a rebellious act where we feel free in defying what we're used to? And on top of all of this what is it about love that can maybe change people? I have seen horrible guys with the wrong crowds, doing drugs and abusing alcohol find that one girl who pulls them out of the dark.
What do we as humans want in love? I believe we expect love to be comfort, safety, nurture, yet lots of romances are the opposite of that. The love in many literary works are complicated, forbidden, hurtful even.
Hardin's an asshole
Don't get me wrong, in After Hardin's a fucking asshole at first. He makes a bet to take her virginity, get drunks, switches up on Tessa, and Tessa cheats on her boyfriend to be with Hardin. I've seen lots of reviews hating this series because Hardin and Tessa do have a very toxic relationship and I don't disagree with that. But the more you read the more you see that there is a reason for everything. There's a reason for Hardin's asshole-ness and Tessa's mistakes and it doesn't excuse their acts yet it gives us a look into reality. In real life no one is perfect and there are reasons people are wired a certain way. No relationship is all flowers and butterflies and people have dark sides to them. The thing that I appreciate in this series is seeing the growth, the growth of a character like Hardin who's so hurt that he hurts people.
It's a raw series. I say that a lot but it's true. When I find books that don't shy away, don't censor, and show a glimpse into what life really is (not always a fantasy), it makes you realize it's okay; it's okay to not have everything in order, to fuck up, make mistakes. Hell, we're only human beings, not super heroes or robots. We NEED room for mistakes, to mess up, and to learn from these mistakes. The issue is when people keep making the same mistakes with no excuse and no growth. The minute that happens, you're just going in circles. Tessa and Hardin did this for a long time until they... I'm not gonna spoil it just go read it.
Thanks for reading everyone! I'll link my Insta page which has short reviews and cute quotes.