For a book that’s supposed to bring its readers closure, since it marks the end of the series, Afterlife
doesn’t really do its job. Claudia Gray’s Afterlife
reminds me of Richelle Mead’s Last Sacrifice—a book that gives a sort of conclusion for its two main characters, but leaves many unanswered questions in regards to the fates of all the supporting characters. In Mead’s case, she’s planning on writing a spin-off series, so I guess in Gray’s case, she’s planning on doing the same. (N.B. I do remember reading somewhere that Gray had plans for writing a separate novel about Balthazar’s past, i.e. his relationship with Jane. But from the way she’s left his story open in the present, I would suppose that she’ll continue it there.) But really, why do these young adult authors keep dragging out their stories? Personally, I’d be more interested in reading something new.
The good: One aspect of Afterlife
that I did like was Gray’s storyline surrounding the wraiths and Bianca’s ultimate destiny: a ghost who can bring trapped souls on earth over to the other side. It’s an interesting idea that I wished Gray would’ve elaborated on, especially since the book is entitled Afterlife
. As written, besides the surface understanding of the term—there’s not much development. It also would have been much more interesting to read than what we do get: Bianca’s fears about her and Lucas’ current states and her constant back and forth dialogue with Lucas.
The bad: This book is so dull because of the repetitious dialogue. The characters constantly have the same discussions over and over again. Once or twice is certainly enough. Because of this, half of the book felt like filler—space that could have easily been used to discuss Bianca’s current status as a wraith and answer the questions that are left open at the end of the novel. For instance, what really happens to Lucas, Bianca, Vic, Ranulf, Balthazar, Charity, Dana, Raquel, Bianca’s parents, et.al.? Where do they go from here? Also, why did Gray have the need to add a new character—Skye—into the mix? She doesn’t really play a significant role in this book. Again, from the way Skye acts at the end, Gray seems to be hinting at a possible sequel or spin-off.
The downright ugly: When you consider and think about what happens at the end, it really does not make any sense! Also, there’s some gross humor thrown into the mix as well, which I find rather unsettling. First, I don’t think the ending that’s given was the original ending Gray wrote. Throughout the first half of the novel, Bianca often describes her physical changes, now that she’s a wraith—no appetite, doesn’t need to feed, no longer having the keen hearing and sight she once had as a “living-vampire.” It seemed that all of those former vampire character traits were lost in the change. Considering these changes, makes Bianca’s actions at the end all that more implausible. Was the loss of these traits selective? How is it possible the editors never caught those little details? Also, another problem I have with the ending: on the one hand, I understand Gray was trying to make it seem like something beautiful, especially since she essentially covers all the bases in the dialogue that happens between the characters. But still, I do have reservations regarding the long-term implications of it. It’s not exactly a new idea, especially if you happen to be familiar with L.J. Smith’s vampire novels, The Vampire Diaries
, and especially some of the books in her Night World
Could have been a good book, but I’m ultimately disappointed.