Sunday 3 September 2017

AFTER I'VE GONE by Linda Green

You have 18 months left to live . . . 

On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate?

Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist.

This is a surprise book I recently received from Hachette. I knew nothing about it, had never read anything by this author, and was a bit confused about the cover because it didn't seem to fit the blurb. But, I'm a sucker for a good thriller and am always willing to give books with an interesting concept a chance.

I picked it up the other day to get a taste and before I realised it, I was several chapters in. And wanted to keep reading because I loved the narrator's voice. After that, I was hooked!

Now, let's talk about the story.

Jess Mount leads a simple life. She's twenty-two and still lives at home with her father. She works at a cinema with her childhood best friend. And she doesn't take shit from assholes. So when she meets Lee, a nice looking older guy who is totally into her, she gets swept off her feet.

It doesn't take long for her to get excited about where her life is heading with her new boyfriend. He's charming, has a good job and buys her nice things. She's totally smitten. But when she stumbles on a bunch of Facebook future messages from friends and family missing her after her death, her life is turned upside down.

Now Jess is living in the present while sampling a bleak future. The only positive is finding out she has a son. A baby she can't wait to meet. Yet, chasing her unborn child means her life starts to spiral out of control, sending her down a one-way road to death...

Wow. What an amazing story!

On the surface, this book comes across like a standard love story gone wrong. The tale of a woman who falls in love so hard and fast that she's blinded to the obvious truth. But it's so much more. It's also the story of a headstrong young woman who is happily coasting through an uncomplicated life because of the scars losing her mother at a young age left behind. 

The story was interesting enough when Jess is telling it, but the addition of Angela gave everything an even better perspective. Not to mention that the future Facebook messages add a suspenseful narrative to the already bleak events slowly unfolding. And catching glimpses of a much younger Jess helped get inside her head.

I also loved how Jess was a huge Harry Potter fan and that she loved movies. Her friendship with Sadie was touching, and her relationship with her father is so sweet. Not to mention how well some of the 2016 shocking celebrity deaths were included in the narrative. All of this added an even deeper level of sadness to an already emotionally-heavy story.

After I've Gone hooked me in from the very beginning. It was so addictive I struggled to put it down. I just wanted to keep reading, to find out what was going to happen next. And it didn't disappoint. From start to finish, there isn't a dull moment because the writing is exceptional. 

I loved this book. A lot. Even when I was frustrated about where things were going. Even when I was scared about what was going to happen next. And even as the true horror of abuse darkened every page and filled me with so much sadness.

This is a very powerful book, and I'm very glad to have read it. Thank you, Hachette Australia, for sending me a copy.

After I've Gone, August 2017, ISBN 9781786483027, Quercus

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