Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

AfterpartyAfterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
Published by: Simon Pulse on December 31, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother -- whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her...and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler's spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.

Afterparty has one hell of an opening paragraph! It starts with the end (near the end of the school year) and then backtracks back to the beginning of the school year. That REALLY pulled me in. See for yourself:

Good girls don’t usually kill their best friend.

HOLY SHIT, right??? I wanted to consume this awesomeness NOW.

After the explosive beginning, Afterparty slowly winded down for me. On the one hand, the tension was slowly building, but on the other hand, my interest was slowly waning.

Graph showing intensity increasing and interest decreasing

I think large portions of the book just felt like the same thing being rehashed over and over again. Emma struggles with her moral compass. She’s not sure if she should just be a good girl, or if she should break away from her dad’s overbearing rules and go a bit wild. She and Siobhan fight over this, then make up, then they fight, then they make up. And when she’s not busy stressing over that, she’s drooling over Dylan. These same problems kept popping up over and over again, manifesting in slightly different ways. After a while it did start to feel like the story was a bit on repeat.

But it was interesting to watch both Siobhan and Emma spiral downwards. Siobhan was always a bit crazy and manipulative, but you really start to see her get truly EVIL towards the end. And Emma.. well you definitely start seeing her branch out and get check marks off her list of “bad girl things to do”. I also like how she slowly started to detest Siobhan.

“I am not clinically depressed or suicidal or insane. I just want to kill Siobhan, is all.”

However, I do think that Emma’s downward spiral could have been more gradual. In many ways, Afterparty reminded me of the movie Thirteen. In Thirteen, Tracy’s downward spiral is gradual. She steals money, she shoplifts, she gets a tattoo, she has sex, she starts doing drugs, she starts doing HARDCORE drugs, etc. It just gets worse and worse and worse. But in Afterparty, Emma was reluctant to do most of the things she did for like 75% of the book. It didn’t really feel like she was going downhill that much for the simple reason that she wasn’t sure she even wanted to go to a certain party, and then when she did, she never did more than just drink a little. That same thing happened that same way several times. But then, at the end when she goes to Afterparty, View Spoiler »

Also Emma wasn’t always the most likable character.. although I guess that’s part of the point. As the reader, I knew that she was making bad choices and I was yelling at her for them. But she still made them. And that’s the whole point of the book, but it also made it hard to really connect to Emma.

Going back to Dylan… I kind of hated him. Siobhan was portrayed really well. She was the best friend who Emma WANTED to really like, but Siobhan clearly had some serious, intense issues. She was a bit crazy and manipulative. It’s clear that her relationship with Siobhan is toxic and Siobhan is trying to take Emma down with her.

“I made you and I could undo you in three minutes. Two online.”
Siobhan

“You won’t survive five minutes in the real world without me. You’d be fucked if I didn’t have your back, and you don’t even get it!”
Siobhan

But Dylan… Dylan was portrayed as the ‘perfect’ guy, even though he also had a ton of problems.. but his problems were just ignored.

First of all, I just didn’t like Dylan. I didn’t like his personality and I thought he acted REALLY immature. He skipped all of his classes all the time (not even joking), he used Emma for her notes because she did attend class, he’d go out and get totally stoned, and he never let Emma talk to him. Literally there are like 5 times in the book where their conversation goes like this:

“Let’s leave. Dylan! Could we please go? I really need to talk to you.”
“First we find them,” he says. “Then we leave.”
[..]
I say, “Could we please talk somewhere? Like now!”

She’d yell, “I need to talk to you NOW!” and he’d just ignore her or change the subject.

I thought he was kind of an ass.

For the first part of the book, I was hoping Dylan would be another life lesson, much like Siobhan turned out to be. Siobhan was the one who taught Emma that some friendships are toxic and there are some lines you don’t cross (and partying isn’t what it’s cracked up to be). I thought Dylan would be another lesson, like: the guy you think is perfect is actually an ass. But nope. Dylan’s problems seem to be ignored by Emma and the author throughout the book. Except when they fight a few times, Emma never stops looking at Dylan as “the perfect guy”.

Then the book dropped off at the end

The climax (what we’re told at the beginning) was INTENSE! That was crazy. But what happened after the climax was a bit disappointing. I felt like the story just… died a little. It dropped off. It seems like things were magically resolved, but as a reader I didn’t FEEL like they actually were resolved. For some reason it wasn’t satisfying. I almost can’t explain it, but I did have a big sense of, “That was it?”

Afterparty wasn’t a perfect book, but it was fascinating

Just like I was morbidly curious about the movie Thirteen, I was morbidly curious about Afterparty. It’s the kind of book that’s really fascinating because you can see the characters spiraling downwards. You want to yell at them to STOP but obviously they don’t listen. It’s like watching an accident happen in slow motion. It’s scary, it’s definitely a cautionary tale, but it’s an interesting (and slightly addictive) read. You just HAVE to know what happens!

I’d say that Afterparty was a little rough around the edges, but was still enjoyable. Some parts of it were really addicting just because I was desperate to see how things played out. I particularly recommend it if you’ve seen and liked Thirteen!

The Verdict

prettygood

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7 comments

  1. Huh that chart intrigues me – mostly because I DNFed this one but lawd that writing was SO not for me that there’s no way I can get through all of that though like it was giving me a headache haha. I’m not even kidding. Anyways, I also agree about her downward spiral I could already see that it was a tad overdramatic in the 100 or so pages I read. Like she meets this badass girl and BOOM she’s stealing horses and other random “badass” things. Judging by Dylan’s character and that ending I count I would have ended up glad I pulled through and finished this one >.<

  2. I’ve seen some pretty neutral reviews so far for this one, so I might skip it, but I can definitely see where Afterparty didn’t work for you, especially with how unlikable Emma was and how abrupt her character development was. Dylan does sound like a complete jerk, too, because what kind of person just randomly ignores someone when she says the she needs him?

    Fantastic review, Ashley! I’m sorry this one wasn’t as intense throughout as it originally seemed.

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