Book/Movie Review: After by Anna Todd

Recently I started seeing advertisements for the movie After pop up on my youtube home page. Intrigued, I investigated the movie further and learned that it was based on a book series that was originally Harry Styles fan fiction. This caught my attention, fan fiction can be quite interesting (I’m looking at you Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy—based off Twilight fan fiction). So, I put my hold in for my library’s copy of the audiobook, and waited…and waited…this seems to be a popular book right now.

Eventually, I received my copy of the audiobook and listened to it. I will warn you, this book can be a little addictive and you may waste a day or two binge listening or reading this book. It is basically about a relationship between two individuals in college – a “good girl” type and a “bad boy” Harry Styles impersonation. 

So, before I tell you what I thought, let me give you some background. I had no idea who Harry Styles was and could not tell you one song from the band One Direction. That may age me there a little…I came at this book knowing it was originally fan fiction, but, like I’ve stated previously (see my review for the Lux Series), I don’t mind bad writing as long as it is compelling.

Now, what did I think of this book? I really liked it! I would not recommend this book for the typical reader. Instead, a teen or young adult female that likes a dramatic relationship and a good deal of smut. If this is you, you may enjoy this book, especially if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey – only the smut isn’t quite as hardcore (although I hear it starts to rival Fifty Shades in the second book – I’m still waiting on hold for that one). 

A lot of people have issues with the relationship between the main characters – Tessa and Hardin (they had to change the name from Harry to Hardin for publication). This is, at its core, an example of an emotionally abusive relationship. But, this book isn’t trying to tell the story of a perfect or healthy relationship. This is the story of two people who feel drawn together but whose behaviors towards each other are not healthy. If you realize that going in, that may help dissuade some of the criticism that comes with this book.

From my metaphysical perspective, I thought this book really showed an example of a fated relationship, or as popular nowadays, a “twin flame” relationship (but you all know my opinions on this twin flame craze). These two souls seem to have karma from previous lives that draw them together. They are given multiple opportunities to work out this karma – both to “hurt” and to “love” each other. It is from these opportunities that they are able to grow and evolve, both as people and as souls. 

After reading/listening to this book, I decided to give the movie a go – but be warned, for those in the US it is not available on Netflix (although I hear some other countries have it) or any streaming service that I could find. You may have to actually shell out money to watch this one. 

The movie changes a lot from the book, and is a lot less smutty than the actual novel it is based on. This movie got itself a PG13 rating, so the scenes that drew many preteens to the original Wattpad story are not in there. 

Overall, I liked the movie. The actors have good chemistry and the story was close enough to the original to bring back memories. There is not the intensity in emotions as the original so empaths that have trouble with hardcore emotions will find the movie easier to handle than the book.

Probably the coolest thing about the movie is that they use The Wild Unknown Tarot deck in one of the early scenes. There is no real context tarot in the movie, it is just used as a prop in the background – but it is cool to see popular decks out in use.

Have you read or seen After? What did you think? What do you think of fan fiction becoming books and movies? 

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