If we are friends on Facebook, or you follow me on Twitter, you have seen the depth of my obsession with this series. It all started when I noticed the 2nd and 3rd books in the series were available as Bargain books at the Barnes and Noble where I work part time. I decided that since I could only get the first book for full price (well, minus my 30% discount) that I would just see about downloading the first one, After, to listen to from my public library. I had heard that these were One Direction Fan Fiction, and while I guess the character Hardin is based on Harry from the band, it had nothing to do with the band other than that. Now, I didn’t read it on Wattpad, so maybe it did on there and was changed for the published book? I don’t know.
I started listening to the book on February 11th. This audiobook grabbed me from the start. I finished it over the weekend, when normally I don’t get that much listened to over the weekend, because I’m not driving in the car as much. But it got me to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill an extra day because it gave me a way to listen to it without just sitting around the house. I had to sit and listen for a couple hours to finish it on the 15th, because it was just so good, and I had to know. Again, normally I would move on and read something on my Nook while I read the 2nd book up before bed. But no. After the way the first one ended, ripping my heart out of my chest, I immediately picked up the 2nd book, 671 pages, and finished it within about 24 hours. The 3rd book, even longer, 834 pages, I also finished in about 24 hours. That night I started, I was working at the bookstore again, and I knew I had to buy the rest of the books immediately so that I could continue reading straight through with no interruptions, there was no way my mind would even entertain any other story. It’s a good thing I did, because the store only had one copy of the 4th book. And I also went ahead and purchased the first book, even though I’d already listened to it, because I know that I needed to own the whole series, and would, emotions and all, have to read this series again. I finished all of the books by midnight last night. And I figured I’d just do a big review for the whole series. So, I will do my best to just do some quick little mini-reviews for each book here, so that I won’t spoil for those who haven’t read them before. This is going to be a long post, so hold on, and I hope I can keep you till the end of the post when I will be giving away your copy of any book in this series, international as long as The Book Depository ships to you.
Book 1 – After
This book, this book, I just don’t even know where to start! I immediately connected to the main character, Tessa, as I started listening because she reminded me so much of myself when I started college. Except for the way she dressed, I soooooo did not dress that bad. Except for she had the obsessions with Toms and I had/still have an obsession with Keds. But I was so naive, so innocent. I also did not have a boyfriend like she did. A lot of the things she did, said, ways she acted, were all things that I have either done, or could totally see myself doing. As I read about Tessa and the other main character, Hardin, I found myself falling in love with him along with Tessa. There were times when she was mad at him, and she would think about not going with him, but then she did. I would be shouting in my car, “Don’t do it! Don’t get in his car, slam the door and go back into the dorm!” But later, when I got to thinking about it, I can see that I probably would have done the same as she did, being more worried about being rude to someone. The sex scenes were very steamy. The fact that this guy, kind of an asshole, (sorry about that language, but it’s the truth), gave her the first sexual experience as him pleasing her, instead of demanding she do something for him, well at the time I wished for someone like that back when I was in college, instead of the first real boyfriend I ever had, my freshman year of college. I know that their relationship is totally an emotionally abusive one, but you kind of were rooting them on, as Hardin seemed to try a little more each time she thought she couldn’t take any more. But then, the end, whoa. You find out that the whole relationship started based on something so terrible. I won’t tell you though. But, and while my bad experience in college was not the same as what happened to Tessa, it still brought back to me the feelings about what did happen to me, and I seriously, literally, physically felt the pain Tessa felt as it was all revealed to her. What Tessa said to Hardin, it totally summed up how I feel about what happened to me: “You took something from me that wasn’t yours, Hardin. That was meant for someone who loved me, loved me truthfully. It was his, whoever he is, and you took that…” I spent the rest of that night barely able to breathe, like there was a weight on my chest, like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. And the way it ended? While the author is great as these kinds of cliffhangers as I found throughout the rest of the series, none of them compared to this one. It was so sudden, ended with basically Tessa telling someone to “Tell me everything, every single detail.” That was it. I tweeted to the author about this, and she retweeted me:
So, after I was able to recover a bit, a few hours later on Monday night, I picked up the sequel, and was glad to be dropped right back into the story so that I could get all the details along with Tessa.
Book 2 – After We Collided:
Book 2 started me with that hole in my heart. I really had no idea how in the world Tessa could forgive Hardin for what he’d done. The humiliation, the ache of falling in love with someone to now feel that they had lied about everything they’d said they felt for you, even when they still tried to tell you that they’d fallen in love with you despite the horrible thing they’d done. What was nice in this book was to get some of the chapters from Hardin’s viewpoint. To see how he really felt with her, but to also feel how his mind worked whenever he would get mad and be an ass to her. I began to root for some of the other characters, Zed for one. He’d always been nice to Tessa, nicer than Hardin. Although to be fair, Hardin wasn’t really nice to anyone. And yes, Zed was in with the group who did the horrible thing to Tessa in the first book. But he seemed to be so sorry and feel so horrible about what he’d done. But Tessa knew that in her heart, she would probably never be able to get over Hardin. So of course the relationship seems to eventually get back into the cycle of the emotional issues, although it does get better, as I said, Hardin gets better, and even Tessa learns there are some things she needs to work on in how she deals with the relationship. So much happens in this book, but really it ends with a happy time for Tessa and Hardin relationship-wise, but a huge surprise walks into Tessa’s life at the end.
Book 3 – After We Fell:
So again, happily, the book picks up basically at the exact moment the last one left off. But we have a new character in the mix for Tessa to deal with in her life. We’ve seen how Tessa’s relationship with her mother is, not great, and we know the past with her father. But now her father is back, and he seems to want to work on his life so that he can spend time with his daughter, and maybe make up for what he’d done. Tessa wants this, hopes for this, because she’s seen how Hardin’s dad had changed his life and done this. She’s also got the opportunity to move to Seattle and work on her internship at the new Vance Publishing office. But of course Hardin doesn’t want to go to Seattle, he wants Tess to go back to England with him after he graduates. Something that isn’t in her plans, which always included moving to Seattle after college and getting into the publishing business. This leads to more problems. While they have taken her dad into their apartment, Hardin finds that maybe there is more than alcoholism as a problem, it may be drug use as well. He wants to keep it from Tessa, and tries. Although secrets always cause more problems. The things Hardin does to try to keep Tessa with him. Craziness. But then, finding out that certain friends aren’t really friends, that was horrible. Just horrible. But we’ve already found out all the horrible things that Hardin did in his past, and it’s good to know that it isn’t him behind what happens. And there are characters that I have HATED since the first book, but they’ll redeem themselves a little in this book. There are some new characters, my favorite is Lillian, and some you love, and some not so much. This ending is another cliffhanger in a way. A major bombshell, this time dropped on Hardin instead of Tessa for a change.
Book 4 – After Ever Happy:
So I knew, well from the title, that there had to be a happy ending, right? Yes, yes there will be, but not until after my heart has been ripped out of my chest again. Hardin, that stubborn, pig-headed man that Tessa (and me) love, just keeps it up. And then Tessa, something happens that it is just impossible to know how she can recover from. To see that maybe Hardin has “ruined her” as he once threatened in the very first book, that she will never be the same, that maybe she can’t ever take him back, totally heartbroken, her, and me. So many ups and downs in this one. But I determined that the co-dependent, emotionally unstable relationship wasn’t just between Tessa and Hardin, but between myself and this book series. It was during this book that I began reaching out even more on Twitter to my fellow fans of this series. I even made a Someecard specifically about how I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. I had been on Goodreads looking for future books from the author and getting a bit of a spoiler about something that happens at the end of this, with Landon, so the ending wasn’t a huge surprise, but how we got there, well I feel the author left some detail out this time, which was hard after how the other books had just been so much detail, minute by minute almost in the story. I was left happy with most everything really. The disappointments being saved in a way later, it was a roller coaster ride. So many family losses and revelations. But again, I even went on Twitter and begged that the author give me the minutes left out in another book, maybe in the upcoming book about Landon, which seems it will be taking place during some of those missed minutes. Here’s my meme that has been liked and retweeted (even by the author I think!) a ton now:
Book 5 – Before:
Before was a lot of stuff from before. I thought it would just be the first book kind of from Hardin’s point of view, way cut back obviously because of the size. But it was more than that. We got glimpses into the girls that he had done terrible things to in the past. We got glimpses into the girls from his group when he met Tessa, including Molly and Steph. And while they had bad pasts, I can tell you that one of them, I don’t feel a bit sorry for. She has always been an evil witch from what we learned about her. But it’s not just before, there’s during, and that is where we get the view of what happened during After, but now from Hardin’s viewpoint. And then, there is even some after. We get some of those details I was missing from the fourth book filled in. I loved those so much! Was so happy for those! Although I’m still hoping for some more details in the Landon book coming up. I just have to say that this author knows how to wrap up her characters’ stories. I could sit and watch all of these characters in a soap opera type of show, all the boring, happy times, along with any of the not so good times. My brain has settled down a bit. Not needing to get back to a book to know what will happen next and if things can be overcome. I love also that her characters do grow and change. But it’s not really in a sappy, stupid way. I feel like they worked for their changes, it wasn’t easy.
Well, I’m going to have to finish this review. My laptop only has 6% battery left, and it’s not comfortable to work on it where I plug it in to charge.. I hate that I didn’t talk more about other important characters, my favorite being Landon. But I’m sure I will when I get the new book. And while I’m very excited for a movie to be made, I just hope that they do it right. Don’t pick a skinny, no curves girl for Tessa. She’s got to have curves. And it has to be rated at least R, as the steamy scenes are the best, better than just about any I’ve ever read. If you haven’t started this series, feel free to enter the giveaway below. If you’ve started and haven’t read on yet because you don’t have the next book, enter below for that as well. If you hated the series, I’m sorry. I’m now a #Hessa fan for life. Today is the day I will try to pick up another book, start listening to a different audiobook.