Terra Underwood meets the boy from her nightmares in this YA dystopian, After Darkness, by J F Johns.
Thank you to Shannon of R&R Book Tours for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After Darkness is set in a dystopian world with 7 distinct Capitals. Over 100 years ago, the government started experimenting on humans to create cyborgs. Cyborgs were then introduced into society, living alongside humans. But then the cyborgs (and some humans) rebelled in what’s known as the Dark Era. They lost and were exiled to No Man’s Land, a desolate wasteland outside of the seven Capitals. 20 years on in the present day, cyborgs have been reintroduced to society. Humans and cyborgs are forbidden from communicating in any way, without permission from the government.
The story follows Terra Underwood, a 17-year-old human girl who struggles to follow the rules and keep her temper. Every night, she has nightmares about a boy with black hair who is drowning — she cannot save him and he turns into a huge black crow before she wakes up. Every night, Terra fights in the Pits, an underground fighting ring. During her next fight, she spots the boy from her nightmares. Who is he and why is he appearing in her nightmares each night? Terra has to know and chases after him — starting a chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.
J. F. Johns has written several books set in this world, but this is a stand-alone. I haven’t read the previous books and found it easy to follow and enjoyable (though I will now be reading the other books as I enjoyed this one so much!). After Darkness is a dystopian young adult novel that has remnants of The Hunger Games, with seven distinct zones (or Capitals). But that’s where the similarities end. After Darkness is fantastically written with vivid, intriguing characters and an exciting story.
“Terra Underwood loved three things in life: eating, drawing and fighting. Not necessarily in that order.” Terra is a great main character. She is angry, loyal and stubborn, and stays true to that throughout the story. She doesn’t really make any dumb decisions like a lot of main characters in YA (though she does faint quite a few times!).
Kalem is an interesting character too. I liked seeing Kalem come out of his shell as the novel progresses, becoming more emotional. The romance between Terra and Kalem is well-written and romantic, too. It felt believable — slow, sweet and gradual. I really love them together and was cheering for them throughout the book!
In fact all the characters are well-written and distinct — even minor characters have a lot of depth to them, such as Hooky and Jimmy. And there are lots of strong female characters in this too — Scarlet and the monster that follows her was fascinating. I loved that part of the story! It gave me chills!
There were a few things throughout the story that didn’t quite add up. For example, if Terra has been going to these illegal fights regularly for years, why had no one noticed the cuts and bruises she gets until now? Surely her friends or her grandmother would have spotted these sooner? (Or at least they should have noticed how tired she is all the time!) And if the Watchers and the government know about the underground market, why haven’t they closed it down by now if it’s always in the same place? Terra spots Watchers hanging around the entrance to it during the day, but as soon as curfew begins, they disperse. Isn’t that the time that you would want to guard it? None of these things ruined the story for me as they are necessary to keep the plot moving, but it was a bit confusing!
After Darkness has all the elements of a story that I like — a fiesty female protagonist, a vast and intriguing world and a good romance. It is a little predictable at times but there were some interesting twists and turns. The story is well-paced and well-crafted, and while it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, I want to learn what happens next! I will be picking up the next in the story, as well as J F Johns’s other books. I can see myself reading this every six months or so, alongside my re-reads of The Hunger Games, Divergent and Harry Potter series!
The blurb for After Darkness
Humans AND Cyborgs are prohibited from communicating in any shape or form with each other.
Curfew is from 12 p.m until 7.30 a.m. Applicable to ALL citizens, humans AND cyborgs.
All propaganda against the government, written or verbal is a crime.
All the above laws if broken are punishable by death.
Welcome to the Nation.
Are you ready?
About the author, J. F. Johns
J.F.Johns is 27 years old and was born and raised in Spain. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at ARU in Cambridge, UK.
She won the Indie Book Awards 2017 for best book written by an author under the age of 25, and was a finalist for best book cover with her novel Eternal Darkness.
She’s an animal lover, and spends her free time playing with her adopted dog and rescued cat, drinking too much coffee and posting book photos on her Instagram.
She believes in the art of dramatic sighing and eye rolling. She works as a ninja, but has been told several times that she’s not very good at her job.
Thank you again to Shannon of R&R Book Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour for After Darkness and sending me a free copy to review! Take a look at the other blogs taking part on the tour to read their reviews (and some excerpts!).
- Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
- Jennifer Mitchell, Bibliolater (Review) https://www.jennifermitchellbooks.com
- Vick’s Bookish Writing (Review) https://vicksblogcom.home.blog/
- Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
- Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
- One Book More (Review) https://onebookmore.com/
- Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
- Scarlett Readz & Runz (Review) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/
- I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
- Back Shelf Books (Review) https://backshelfbooks.com/
- An Ocean a Glimmer (Review) http://anoceanglimmer.wordpress.com
- Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
- Rea’s Reads (Review) https://reasreads.wordpress.com/
- The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
- Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
- Cup of Toast (Review) https://cupoftoast.co.uk