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Hello! Today I will be talking about a terrible, terrible fanfic-turned-novel called After by Anna Todd. It is the story of a sweet, innocent girl judgmental bitch named Tessa going to college and meeting a hot Bad Boy an abusive asshole named Hardin. Originally, this story was fanfic about the band One Direction, and Hardin was Harry Styles. I don't have a copy of the book yet, so I'll be working from the fanfic version for now and going back and editing once I do have the book.

First, I wanted to talk about the covers of the book. This is the cover the story has over on Wattpad:

This is a decent enough cover. The black-and-white photography looks nice, and the reader can tell it's probably a romance novel (even if it does look like it should have vampires in it). This is what the published book looks like:

...Yeah. Not very visually interesting. Also, the ominous technicolor clouds, combined with the title and that infinity symbol, would make me think it's some sort of post-apocalyptic novel, not a New Adult romance. As far as I can tell, the image used in the Wattpad cover isn't copyrighted, so I am honestly baffled by the decision to not use it for the published novel.

Now, the original fic was a whole bunch of short, choppy chapters because Todd apparently uploaded several a day. I'm given to understand this wasn't fixed in the published version, so I'm going to end up covering a number of chapters in one go. Thanks, publishers. I can tell you really cared about making sure you released the best possible product instead of just doing a quick cash-grab.

Chapter 1

Our story opens with our narrator, Tessa being woken up by her mother calling for her. Already, I'm kind of annoyed, because the suethor decided first-person present tense was the best way to write this. This might be just my opinion, but I feel like the style lends itself more to heavily action-oriented stories like The Hunger Games.

Tessa notes that she's taking her time to make her bed because this is the last time [she] will be completing the task for months. I know she means that she won't be making this specific bed for months, but it sure sounds like Tessa is just going to quit making her bed period.

Tessa goes and gets in the shower and we find out that she's nervously looking forward to college. Which is a feeling I totally remember from my own first day of college. This nice moment of relatable-ness is then promptly ruined when Tessa thinks this: My weekends were spent studying and preparing for this day while my peers were out getting drunk, wasting their time and jeopardizing their futures." Wow, Tessa. Real nice. And so I get to start my first count already:

You Judgmental Ass: 1

This is for whenever Tessa or anyone else says something particularly judgmental and rude. I expect it to get pretty high. And then, not one sentence later, I get to kick off a second count as we find out that Tessa is going to Washington State University.

Meyer, Is That You?: 1

This one should be fairly self-explanatory. What is it with these Suethors and the Pacific Northwest? Anyway, Tessa finishes her shower, making sure to take time to let us know that she shaved her legs. Because that's absolutely vital information. Truly, I don't know how readers would be able to follow along if they didn't know the condition of Tessa's body hair.

As she dries off, Tessa starts thinking about her boyfriend, Noah. He's going to be riding to college with Tessa and her mom. Apparently, he's brilliant and has a perfect GPA. Tessa also takes a moment to, in her words, "mentally scold" Noah's mother for waiting a year to send him to Kindergarten because now Tessa has to wait a whole year for him to be at college with her. Poor, poor Tessa.

You Judgmental Ass: 2

Seriously, Tessa, Noah's mom probably had a perfectly valid reason for making that decision. Tessa finally heads downstairs and we finally meet Noah. He is dressed very blandly in a polo shirt and khakis. This will inevitably used as an argument for why he's not good enough for Tessa once she meets Harry/Hardin. For some reason, his smile is described as "perfectly lined", whatever that means.

We finally get a description of Tessa as the narration casually describes her "pull[ing her] dirty blonde hair into a bun". Other Suethors, take note; it is, in fact, possible to describe your character's looks in first-person without having them look into a mirror. And then Tessa's mom goes and ruins what little good-will I'd managed to regain for this novel.

"Honey, we can wait a couple minutes while you fix your hair," My mom says quietly, running disapproving eyes over me.

You Judgmental Ass: 3

And this is why I made the count so it could include people other than Tessa. Seriously, Mom, what's wrong with how she had her hair? Messy buns are considered fashionable right now! And then the chapter ends with the three of them heading to the car.

Chapter 2

The next chapter opens with the car pulling through the gates of the college. Tessa reveals that she's apparently only seen the campus on the website and on brochures. Did she not go on campus tours? She describes the throngs of parents saying good-bye, the clumps of new students, the intimidating size of the campus, and all of it sounds reasonable until she describes orientation as short and how she sits alone. See, when I started college, orientation was a several day event and we were put into groups and had to do icebreakers and stuff to help us get to know each other. I also looked up WSU's orientation. It's several days long as well, and happens during the summer, months before the first day of school. And for this, I'm starting my third count:

How Do I College?: 1

For whenever the suethor gets something wrong about college. I'm tempted to give a second point almost immediately because Tessa describes getting her room key from an adult woman. At my college, the entire orientation and move-in process was overseen by RAs with no actual adults present. That could just be how my school did things, though so I'll hold off on the How Do I College point. I will give Tessa a point for referring to the woman as "seemingly nice".

You Judgmental Ass: 4

Seriously, as far as I know we never see this woman again, so Tessa taking the time to say that the woman might be faking her niceness just seems weird and out of place. Tessa, her mom, and Noah head up to her room with Noah "carrying [Tessa's] bags". First, real nice of you two to make Noah do all the work. Second, how does Tessa have so little stuff that Noah can apparently carry it all in one trip? I feel like college kids usually have a lot more supplies than that. Tessa also takes a second to sneer at her mom's watch because "she certainly couldn't afford [it], but purchased [it] anyway."

You Judgmental Ass: 5

Tessa's room is apparently B22 in C hall. Shouldn't that make her room C22, then? Or does the B mean Tessa's in the basement? Tessa also lets us know what stuff she brought with her: "a few clothes, a blanket, and some of [her] favorite books." Okay, now I'll give that a point.

How Do I College?: 2

Where are her school supplies? Her toiletry kit? Just how few clothes are we talking? The trio reaches Tessa's room and her mom gasps in shock when she sees it because Tessa's roommate has covered her side with music posters and she has lots of tattoos and eyeliner.

You Judgmental Ass: 6

The roommate might be a bit of a surprise, but gasping seems a bit of an over-reaction. Tessa describes the other girl's smile as "intriguing" and gets all flustered and stuttery, continuing the trend of accidental lesbian subtext in this sort of novel.

Meyer, Is That You?: 2

The roommate introduces herself as Steph, saying "Welcome to WSU, where the dorms are tiny and the parties are huge!", much to everyone's shock. I have to question how exactly Steph and Tessa ended up roommates. See, my college, and I'm pretty sure a lot of other colleges, have freshman that don't already have a person they want to room with fill out a personality survey that's used to match them with someone similar. I don't believe for a second Tessa and Steph would've had anything in common, which just makes it painfully obvious that they're only roommates because the author needed a way for Tessa and Harry/Hardin to meet.

How Do I College?: 3

Speaking of Harry/Hardin, there's a knock on the door and two guys with tattoos come in. Tessa freaks out because "OMG these are the girls' dorms? Why are there boyyys?????", completely ignoring the fact that she already had Noah in her room. She even goes so far as to say "maybe Washington State was a bad idea," while her mom looks like she's ready to pass out.

You Judgmental Ass: 8

One point for each of them. One of the boys introduces himself as Niall (I don't have his published name on hand) and seems like a perfectly friendly person "despite his harsh appearance".

You Judgmental Ass: 9

Oh yeah, he looks sooooo harsh. I'm going to cut myself on his edge. Suethor, if you wanted to write about your good-girl self insert falling for a punk guy, that's fine, but why'd you pick this band?

Tessa then inspects the other guy in a long, detailed paragraph:
My eyes shift to the tall brown haired boy leaning against the wall. His hair is a mop of waves on his head, pushed back off his forehead and he has metal in his eyebrow and lip. My eyes travel down his black t-shirt to his arms which are covered in tatoos as well, not an inch of untouched skin is seen."

Yeah, uh, nice try, Suethor. Pretty much the only thing you got right was his hair. I mean, yeah, he's got tatoos, but I'd hardly call that "not an inch of untouched skin". Our love interest, who hasn't officially been named yet, doesn't say anything to Tessa and just looks at his cellphone, clearly annoyed by the whole event. Niall says good-bye to Tessa, and he and his friends leave. Tessa's mom immediately demands she get a new roommate.

You Judgmental Ass: 10

Tessa tries to calm her down by saying Steph probably won't be around much, so she won't be to much of a problem. Tessa's mom is having none of that, and declares, "you will not be in a room with someone who allows males into her room, those punks at that!"

You Judgmental Ass: 11

First, who uses the word "males" like that anymore? Second, YOU HAVE NOAH IN THE ROOM WITH YOU RIGHT NOW! I'm pretty sure he's a male! But hey, this seems like a pretty big conflict. How will Tessa resolve it?

"Mother..please," I look into her blue eyes then to Noah, "let's just see how it goes. Please," I beg. She looks around the room again, taking in the decor covering Steph's side and huffs dramatically.

"Fine," she spits, much to my surprise.

Oh. That was easy. Why exactly did we need to act like it was a huge deal, then? And then the chapter just ends. Now this plot set-up could actually work with some minor tweeks. All you'd need to do would be have Tessa be a bit less judgmental, make it more clear that she's just parroting her mom's beliefs, and have the plot be about her learning to break away from her overbearing mother and become her own person. Obviously, none of this happens because otherwise I wouldn't be here complaining about this book. Next chapter starts a separate little plotlet, so I'll wrap things up here.

You Judgmental Ass: 11
Meyer, Is That You?: 2
How Do I College?: 3


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