Review: Until The Beginning by Amy Plum

Until the beginning amy plum after the end
Until The Beginning Amy Plum Cover After The End

Title: Until The Beginning 
Author: Amy Plum 
Series: After The End #2 
Genre: Dystopia, YA 
Publication date: May 5, 2015 
Rating: ★★

When Juneau's clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people's gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village. Juneau and her new companion Miles's cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau's people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people - and herself - Juneau must discover what she and her abilities are truly capable of.

Sigh. What a disappointment this book was. I liked the first one in the series, After The End, a lot so I didn’t hesitate to start reading this one. Except this one was pretty awful. If it hadn’t been the second book in a duology, I probably would have quit.

There were several things fundamentally wrong with this book. For one I didn’t believe any of it anymore. Where at first Amy Plum made an effort to make things seem realistic, here it all happened way too conveniently. For example: Miles and Juneau find themselves in a small ‘forest’ and Juneau says she goes hunting. She takes her crossbow and very soon after comes back with two dead rabbits. Have you ever been in a forest? Wild rabbits don’t just hop right in front of your nose, you know. It takes time and patience to see one, let alone shoot one. And although in theory this could be possible, there were tons of other stuff that made me roll my eyes, because there was just no way it would happen like that in real life.

Secondly, the characters I once loved, suddenly annoyed me to death. Juneau had always been confident, but now she became insufferable. I’d always pictured her as reasonably intelligent, but now she described herself as a prodigy and when Miles pointed out that usually people are just a tad more modest, she just said that it was the truth and that she should be allowed to say it. I like confidence, I hate bragging – which is exactly what she was doing. But what makes it worse is that I really didn’t think she was so extremely intelligent. She did things someone with such a bright head would never do. Ugh.

And Miles? He became a bit of a puppy, always following whatever Juneau said. Always lessening himself and telling himself what a worthless person he would be if it weren’t for Juneau. Which she didn’t agree with, because she kept pointing out how intelligent he really was and how fortunate it was that he knew how to game, because that made him able to give great strategic advice. And that advice was something like: “Maybe we should think of a plan instead of just storming in.” Whoa. So glad he thought of that.

Juneau and Miles were also trying to be funny all the time and I really didn’t buy it. What they found amusing just wasn’t that funny. Or maybe I just have a different sense of humor.

I don’t know, everything was just really far-fetched and unrealistic and just too much. Juneau used technology as if she’d always had, when in fact she’d only learned to use it a couple of weeks ago. And if it came in handy to know something about the modern world, then she’d supposedly read about it in some encyclopaedia et voilà, another problem solved.

What also bothered me A LOT were the pop culture references, because they often came from Juneau. SHE COULD QUOTE STAR WARS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And the Beatles. She’d been living in the wilderness of Alaska for her entire life, but she could still quote Darth Vader. “Because one of my clan members used to be a huge Star Wars/Beatles fan”. Well, isn’t that convenient?

The story itself lacked depth too. There shouldn’t have been two books. She should have just fit everything in one. The first half of Until The Beginning didn’t add anything to the story. It was mostly just Miles and Juneau being on some fun road trip, I mean sorry - a dangerous mission to save the clan, and swooning over each other. The only action came towards the end, but then it was really overdone, so… Amy Plum should have taken a lot more time to think things through and then maybe she could have made something from this book. Instead she was probably on a deadline and the overall feeling is one of “it’ll have to do.”

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