I’ll be honest – I have been talking about writing this for a while. But I contemplated having to go back THROUGH this book and remember exactly what I didn’t like about it (it’s all been heavily repressed) and I was like is it worth it?
And then I saw the trailer for After We Collided… (for those blissfully unaware, that’s book 2 in the series. Now being made into a film).
*Cracks knuckles* Let’s do this.
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.
But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.
But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.
He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?
Unless…could this be love?
There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER … Life will never be the same.
This is more of a discussion than a review and it does contain spoilers so if you, for some reason, are PLANNING on reading this yourself don’t read ahead.
I’m going to break down my issues to a few key points.
One. Hardin. HaRdIn ScOtT. The fact that Hardin is based on Harry Styles should make us all slightly uncomfortable, especially any inner 13 year old 1D fangirls out there. He is a walking stereotype – a troubled teen, with tattoos, commitment issues and a British accent. But Hardin is problematic for so many reasons, primarily that he is actually an abusive, psychotic human being.
For a second, I think he might slap me.
He answers me by grabbing the lamp off the nightstand and slamming it against the wall
There is no relationship in which this is okay. Though Hardin does not physically abuse Tessa, he spends the entire book verbally and emotionally destroying Tessa’s character – and this is somehow excused because it’s “love”. At one point, he openly admits to going through her phone and deleting her voicemails. Nothing about what Hardin does should be excused in the name of love, nor should it be idolised. If I was Harry Styles I would sue.
Mr Styles, I apologise on everyone’s behalf.
Two. Cheating. I could never excuse cheating – Ngoc would have my head – but I think cheating can happen in books because sadly cheating happens in real life. But in After, Todd writes it to be glorified. Tessa claims to be ‘confused’ but openly acknowledges that what she is doing is wrong, yet does nothing to change her actions.
I can’t keep kissing Hardin and cheating on Noah
Yet she does. She continues to kiss Hardin and do MUCH more with him before finally ending it with Noah. And her reasons for cheating? She’s bored with her boyfriend. Honestly Hardin is no better either, actively pursing a girl he knows is in a relationship. He even goes onto demean Tessa and Noah’s relationship due to their lack of sex. At no point is Hardin apologetic, and at no point does Tessa feel genuinely sorry either.
Three. The ‘love story’. In my eyes, there is no love story in After. Because there is nothing healthy or romantic about Hardin and Tessa’s relationship. Even if you excuse the foundations of cheating (which I’m sorry but no), it doesn’t even feel like these two characters like each other. Hardin spends the novel rejecting Tessa and getting annoyed whenever Tessa rejects him back. He physically fights another guy when he kisses her after a party game, despite himself kissing another girl in front of her. As for Tessa, she spends the novel crying (drink some water girl you must be dehydrated), attempting to control Hardin, and playing a twisted version of “hard to get” as she goes on dates with Hardin’s friends in an attempt to make him jealous, and shocks no one as she kissed another boy in front of Hardin.
I have cried so many times since I met him, and if I get tangled back into his web, this is how it will always be
Wow sounds romantic hey.
Their entire relationship, if one can even call it that, is Hardin insulting Tessa, Tessa insulting Hardin, Tessa crying, and them having sex. Throw in a break up or twenty, and repeat. And again, as with the cheating, I understand that relationships like this do exist. But to call it a romance is the issue. Todd promoting this abusive relationship to young adults, implying that as characters Hardin and Tessa are two people we should ‘ship’, and not making it abundantly clear that this is NOT healthy, that is not okay.
All of the above is not even mentioning the poor writing style, the lack of plot progression, the poorly written sex scenes and realisation that these two dimensional characters do not actually change.
And the END. It ends with it being revealed that Hardin started dating Tessa as a bet to take her virginity? I wasn’t even shocked – I was thankful that this might actually end their ‘relationship’, and yet sadly horrified to learn that there would be another 3 books to follow.
I have to give After one star – I did read the whole thing (despite screaming through it). And I will be honest – maybe there is a change in future books. Maybe 2-4 in the series demonstrate massive depth and explores the unhealthy nature of abusive relationships. I will never know, because you would have to give me SO MANY DUMPLINGS to read them. And given what I’ve seen of After, I highly doubt it.
Me trying not to chuck my kindle across the room.
Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read the book, or if you want to come with me to joint therapy sessions where we can debrief through this trauma together.