Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)
I'm so angry at this book. The first 10% of it was so good that I thought it would be one of the best books I read all year. It started with a girl named Juneau. World War III destroyed the world, and Juneau and her small village were living off in the wilds of Alaska. Knowing the dangers of radiation, bandits, and all the other end of the world badness, they kept hidden and kept to themselves as much as they could.
All the children were named after Alaskan cities. All the animals were named after famous writers, artists, etc. I was really loving this world the author had built.
Then came the truth. There had been no WWIII. The world hadn't ended -- it was chugging along just fine, same as it is right now. So why did the adults lie to the children and keep them away from the rest of the world?
That could have been such an interesting story. Juneau's tribe got kidnapped (all of them, all at once, while she was out hunting), which led to her discovery that the world hadn't ended, there was no third world war, etc. Juneau met up with a boy named Miles, and the rest of the 90% of the book was a mix of awful YA teenage romance (it felt "like lightning" when they touched each other), and horrible, horrible "magic".
See, Juneau and the other children of the tribe were so connected with Mother Earth that they could do magic. Read the fire/water/wind/whatever to know where to hunt, to see the future, to find a lost person. They could transform how they looked in seconds (because animals could do it -- snowshoe hares turning white/brown furred depending on the season). Juneau could break (or fix) any electronic device (phones, cars) just by tapping into Nature.
How was all that magic explained? Because she ~believed~ so strongly in the power of Mother Earth and Nature. It wasn't even just the kids though, Juneau met up with normal adults who could see the future and other such crap.
I spent most of the book wanting to beat my head against the wall. Just ~believe~ and you can tell the future by throwing bones! Just ~believe~ and you can read in a fire where someone is!
In the last pages of the book, there was finally a more "logical" reason for the magic: By using a mixture of "herbs and minerals" found in Alaska, not only could you introduce magical powers into humans, you stopped them from aging, kept them from ever getting sick again, and made one of their eyes contain a "golden starburst".
What happened to her tribe? How was this mix of "herbs and minerals" found? We'll never know. After the End does one of the things I hate most: It ended on a cliffhanger. Not just a "we didn't wrap everything up in this book" type thing, but basically just stopped mid-paragraph. Miles was shot and was bleeding out, Juneau sitting there not knowing if he'd live or die. BAM, the end. Look, author, if you want to write a trilogy, fine! Yay! Good for you! But I paid $10 for this book, and I expect a complete story in it.
A more minor annoying thing: The cover looked really great. I'd love an end of the world story with dogs! But the dogs were barely in the story at all. Two chapters of them, then we never heard of them again. Plus they were seriously unrealistic -- more like robots or just an extension of Juneau than living things.
I'm so annoyed that I read the whole book. As it wasn't an end of the world story, it was just following these two bland teenagers as they fell in love and took a road trip trying to find her tribe. The father was a one-dimensional bad guy, the magic was god awful, and the love subplot was just plain stupid. The only reason I kept reading was to find out if the magic was explained in some logical way, but by the time it finally was, I had long since stopped caring.
Next up: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint.