Hello lovelies! Welcome to Day 6 of blogmas!
We’ve almost been together daily for a week! I hope you’re all well, as always. Today I’m sharing an ARC review from Hachette Children provided through Netgalley of Afterlove by Tanya Byrne! Thank you to the publishers for this ARC.
Author: Tanya Byrne (Ownvoices auhtor)
Synopsis: THE LESBIAN LOVE STORY YOU’VE BEEN DYING TO READ. Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death. Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she? This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.
But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive … NOT EVEN DEATH CAN TEAR THEM APART.
Publishing date: June 10th 2021 by Hodder Children’s Books
3 stars: Apollo – God of archery, music and dance, the Sun and light, poetry, and more. I really like Apollo and what he represents. That means that I really enjoyed the book and my experience reading it. That means the book is worthy of Apollo.
Iris– Goddess of rainbows. Nothing new here, we all know that rainbows represent the LGBTQ+ community so this Goddess will be featured whenever a queer relationship or character appears.
Athena– Goddess of wisdom, poetry, art, and the strategic side of war. I will feature the goddess whenever there is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, person of colour) because they are a symbol of resilience, strength and wisdom to me. I also want to put forth African folklore, myths and gods and since Athena is the goddess of poetry and art I thought it was fitting.
British Indo-Guyanese lesbian mc, Muslim characters, BIPOC side characters.
I expected a different story and I think the synopsis is slightly misleading and emphasizes elements that are not so important to the story. I thought there would be more angst and star-crossed lovers elements to this.
The whole basis of the book is Ash and Poppy’s relationship, from the moment that they meet to the moment they are separated. I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the romance. This was a case of instalove which I’m not particularly a fan of, but I still understand how important the trope is to the story, only here it was a case of telling rather than showing and I felt…nothing. I didn’t feel their chemistry and that’s why the rest of the story wasn’t convincing to me. There is not a lot of dialogue between the two and it’s rather Ash narrating everything she knows and when we do get a dialogue it’s not really deep. You don’t really see them falling in love, it’s more an “off the page” romance and that saddens me as I was very excited about this sapphic relationship. We do get bits here and there, don’t get me wrong but it doesn’t feel that real. I also think everything happens way too quickly and since I didn’t really witness the strong bond between Ash and Poppy their connection was unrealistic. I simply believed in their romance for the sake of the story.
Now on to the plot itself. This book has a great plot, it’s really original and unique: the last person to die on New Year’s Eve becomes a reaper and collects the souls of the city! I think the part where Ash becomes a reaper was really interesting to read about but I wish the author had taken her time with this aspect; we don’t really get much explanation and in a way it’s great because we’re put in Ash’s position but as a reader that is very frustrating because we just want to know more.
The book had a solid base of characters and I loved the representation. The main character, Ash Persaud is a British Indo-Guyanese teen and I loved how we got to see aspects of her culture; it was great to read about. I also like how subtly the author called out the discrimination towards people of color (i.e getting thoroughly checked when you enter a museum, or getting a side eye because her best friend wears a hijab) and how she showed the different dynamics in different social worlds. I also loved the queer rep – the whole talk about coming out and the struggle of balancing one’s own faith and with one’s sexual orientation was so great and I related a lot to that. This aspect of the book was beautifully done and I’m so happy we live in a day and age where people talk about this.
Ash was a funny, sarcastic and passionate young woman and I loved following her as she experienced love for the first time. Ash’s love interest, Poppy was a good character, I love how trusting and carefree she was. I wish we had seen more of her, seen more of her background because she’s an endearing character and we could tell she had issues with her parents and I would have loved for the author to explain this aspect a bit further.
Esen, one of the reapers was the most intriguing character: she had a tough exterior but she was so sweet to the people she cared about and seeing her friendship with Ash blossom was beautiful. Dev, the other reaper was also sweet and I liked how gentle and sweet she was. However I did not expect these girls when Ash is said “to join a clan of fierce girl reapers”; it was very misleading.
As for Deborah there were so many layers to her character and I wish it had been developed more! Why does she have this role, what’s her story? what happened to her? So many questions that were unfortunately left unanswered; she was presented as this powerful person but we have no idea why she’s more powerful than the others, who left her in charge, what she does with her days other than mending books and dusting them (which sounds like my dream job, don’t get me wrong but I needed more.).
I liked the pace of the book and I loved the writing style: some parts were absolutely beautiful. This book is a beautiful tale about grief and I shed a tear or two at the ending and when I read the acknowledgments; I’m so glad the author found her path again:
“You don’t need to be better than anyone else, you need to be better than who you used to be. It doesn’t feel like it now, but one day you’ll be scared of becoming the person you are today. Actually, you’ll be scared that you never stopped being that person.”
The last part was moving and touching and so so beautiful. I loved how Ash came out to terms with her life and her death and I loved her awakening by the end of the novel. I also like all the cultural references with the work of arts, TV shows, celebrities, etc.
Overall this was a very interesting and unique book, that made me realize how lucky I am to be alive, to feel the sun on my skin and to be surrounded by my loved ones everyday. It made me count my blessings and I’m grateful for that.