After the Fire by Will Hill is a YA Contemporary novel about a girl’s story through survival and how power and corruption led a cult straight into its own destruction.
“The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.
Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.
Then came the fire.“
I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed this book!
I was surprised in just how captivating the story and characters were from cover to cover. Going into it, there is a vague description of what happened that night of the fire, and slowly, we become introduced to a girl who is going to walk us through it scene by scene.
This book is a run through of backstories and present-day interrogations trying to discover what all took place leading up to the main incident.
But not only that, this book is about survival and the difference variances that a traumatic situation can have on various personalities. I don’t want to get too deep into the story because I think going into it not knowing very much makes the story that much more powerful, but the characters we meet felt so raw and powerful that I couldn’t help but continue flipping page by page.
There is a trigger warning for sexual assault in this novel.
I loved getting to see this side of how one’s environment can affect a person’s way of life. This book completely reminded me of the show, Escaping Polygamy. There are so many similarities between the two, so if you’ve seen that show, I highly recommend picking up this book. You will devour it rather quickly like I did.
The interactions between the society’s characters and the psychologist and FBI agent were some of my favorite scenes to explore. It brought together the modern-day reactions to the cult and what a true insider’s perspective become when they are sitting side-by-side. Their reactions to her recollection feels so raw and real.
I also liked how the main character was even hiding some of the memories from us and herself. It allowed the suspense to climb and us a chance to come up with our own theories to what really happened that night.
This is definitely a story of power, corruption, trust, and survival. Then halfway through I realized that the cult’s actions weren’t always the kind-of ‘bad’ side that were have read so far; that this society wasn’t as harsh as it used to, and discovering how one man changed all that was really eye-opening and one of my favorite twists to the story.
All of the characters will surprise you in their own way. Your first impressions of them will dramatically change at some point in the story. The backstories and memories from the characters play a crucial part in understanding how this book unfolds.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I haven’t read a story like this in YA. There is a lot of mental health-related topics that come out, and so many subplots that help to create such an intricate and powerful story. I highly recommend this book to all readers as it is one of those stories that I believe can impact anyone’s perspective on life.
This isn’t just a story about a religious society, so don’t go into it thinking that this is all it is about. It is so much more than that, and I think you have to read it to fully understand what I’m saying.
The author’s note is definitely a must-read! But, I recommend reading it AFTER you finish the novel because it wraps up the story and allows you to digest the content a little easier.
Published: 2 October 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
How I Read It: eARC from NetGalley
*Disclaimer: I requested a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All of my reviews contain my honest opinions only and are not influenced in any way.*
Stay tuned for more book reviews every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday! You can subscribe below for instant links to each of my posts and help share the love of reading YA!
Until next time..