While Julia and her bestie Liv, are running on a trail, a man attempts to abduct Liv. Julia sacrifices herself and then miraculously escapes her capture in the next day that follows. Now, it's been an year and things just haven't felt right for Julia. Liv hasn't had appropriate reactions to her friend saving her life, there's a pushy reporter that Julia feels drawn to, and her mother wants Julia to focus on recovery without focusing on details (something Julia just can't do).
When the body of a missing woman shows up in the same wooded area, things start clicking into place. And Julia starts to see that there are some giant missing pieces in her fact-gathering.
I've been having the best luck with books released in 2016. Especially debuts! This book got me hooked right from the start. Julia and Liv were running in the woods when a strange man attacked Liv. Without even thinking, Julia sacrifices herself to save her friend. Now it's been a year since Julia escaped her captor and left the woods but things are more messed up than ever. There's Liv who has NOT acted like a friend, a reporter who isn't going away, and now there's a dead girl that has been pulled out of those woods.
This is a complicated story. And I had so many emotions reading it: disgusted, MAD, sad, fustrated.
Julia is such a smart character. She has all these feelings about what happened and she's suffering from a pretty severe case of PTSD, but she's also able to be so clinical when it comes to investigating her case. Well, it's more fact-gathering than it is investigating, but she's so detached while she's getting all this information together that it made her such an interesting character. She was serious and scientific about her fact-gathering, but she had this snarky, funny, vulnerable side also. She was an excellent main character-- and just everything about her, I couldn't get enough.
Not to give anything away, but the abduction turned out to be so much more than just a random sicko trolling for victims. As much as I love those stories too, I really LOVE when something out of the ordinary happens. And what happens in this book is seriously messed up. Like almost Dangerous Girls messed up.
There's a mild romance in this book and I definitely liked it. I usually wouldn't, but this relationship wasn't what made Julia whole again. I don't think anything makes people who have been victimized as she has "whole", but the love-interest to me just gave her the confidence to allow herself to FEEL. I also really enjoyed the secondary friendship with Alice. I could have read scenes with her and Julia in them forever.
OVERALL: Such a top shelf debut!! I would put it in the Must-Read Category. After the Woods was so much more than a kidnapping book-- it's a book about friendship and secrets and what it is to be a survivor-- it was twisty, haunting, and so very cerebral. I SO recommend this book!
This Book Contains:
- Woods (duh)
- Friendship issues
- Family issues
- Some graphic descriptions
- Track team
- Small amount of romance, but not a main factor
- Domestic violence
My Rating: 5/5
Date Published: 2/23/2016
How I got the book: LibraryCharacter: Liv
Book: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- Because she would completely relate to the messed up mother theme.