|After the End by Amy Plum
That's exactly the situation our heroine, Juneau, finds herself in. Living with her clan outside of Denali, Juneau has spent her entire life preparing for brigand raids and learning how to be one with the Yara, the mystical force that connects her people with the earth and allows them to control elemental forces. Juneau and her friends have all been told that the world was decimated after World War III in the eighties and that the only other survivors out there are evil people who would stop at nothing to hurt her clan and take what they have worked so hard to build.
After events in the story lead to her entire clan going missing, Juneau realizes the only way to save them is for her to leave the confines of the only world she has known and rescue them herself. After a short journey, she discovers that the tales she had been told all of her life about the wasted state of the world were a lie and that life has continued on. Reeling after this discovery, Juneau tries to push the betrayal out of her mind and focuses on the only thing she can control, saving her people.
This is where our male lead comes in. Miles is adrift in a world that doesn't matter much to him. He is spoiled by a rich father who doesn't have time for him and begins acting out in classes for attention. When a cheating scandal gets him expelled, Miles is desperate to prove himself to his father and dig himself out of the mess he is in. Luckily, he knows just how to do that: find Juneau and bring her to his father before his men can.
This book was quite an enjoyable read. As a huge fan of the movie The Village, I loved the idea of picking up where a movie like that left off. While it's always interesting to find out the twist at the end, that it's all been a sham from the beginning, I have always been more curious about finding out how people handle that situation.
Juneau was such a strong character. She had her moments of weakness, of course, but she was so capable, and so quick to learn things. She didn't constantly need rescuing, and did more than a little of her own rescuing herself. The romance was subtle; not insta-love, nor totally in your face. It felt right in the pacing of the story. The writing style was fast paced, and kept you on your toes. I really liked that we didn't spend too much time waiting for the other shoe to drop concerning Juneau discovering the truth of the world.
However, since we did discover the truth so quickly, there was very littler character interaction with Juneau's clan. I felt like I had no skin in the game when it came to rescuing them, because I didn't care about any of them. Also, Miles' character could be extremely annoying and one dimensional at times. He did experience character growth, of course, but it all felt a little too sudden, like someone had thrown a switch and Miles all of a sudden wasn't this selfish, whiny brat. And lastly, the book relied way too heavily on deus ex machina throughout. Everything with Tallie was absurd and unbelievable, and I was constantly left feeling like the way Juneau and Miles got out of their scrapes defied logic a few too many times.
Overall, I would feel comfortable recommending this book to fans of books with plenty of action and strong female leads with just a smidgen of romance tossed in. It was far from a perfect book, but it still had enough redeemable qualities that make it worth the effort.
The sequel, Until the Beginning, is set for release May 5, 2015.