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After the Woods
     

After the Woods

4.5 11
by Kim Savage
 

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"Statistically speaking, girls like me don't come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us."

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can't fully remember. Now it's one year later, and a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving Julia

Overview

"Statistically speaking, girls like me don't come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us."

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can't fully remember. Now it's one year later, and a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving Julia in a stupor at awkward moments-in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example.

At least Julia's not alone. Her best friend, Liv, was in the woods, too. When Julia got caught, Liv ran away. Is Liv's guilt over leaving Julia the reason she's starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with an explosive temper, Liv's way of punishing herself for not having Julia's back? As the devastating truth about Liv becomes clear, Julia realizes the one person she thinks she knows best-Liv-is the person she knows least of all. And that after the woods was just the beginning.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Magi Evans
Julia is unique. Almost a year ago, she escaped abduction after two days. It was not even supposed to be Julia who was taken. Out for a run with her friend, Liv, the two got separated, and Julia found Liv being attacked. Rather than run for help, she tried to get the man, Donald Jessup, off of her friend. Liv was the one who ran, and Julia who was kidnapped. Julia’s memories of the incident are fuzzy, but she has occasions where she zones out and certain puzzling memories surface. Her friendship with Liv has suffered since Liv thinks that they should both just move on. Liv has started seeing Shane Cuthbert, a violent drug addict, and Kellan MacDougall, the dreamy son of the local police chief, has noticed Julia. Meanwhile, a girl’s body is discovered in the woods, and Jessup died in prison. Now the anniversary of the abduction is approaching, and a local news reporter has started to focus on Julia, using her to get information for a story she thinks will get her noticed by national networks. As Julia’s flashbacks increase, so does her awareness that something is off with Liv. Savage’s excellent pacing tantalizes the reader, slowly suggesting that Liv’s rescue and Julia’s kidnapping were not quite as they seemed. Will Julia’s memories match the reality when the shocking truth is finally revealed? This subtle thriller will keep readers on edge until the very last page. Reviewer: Magi Evans; Ages 14 up.
From the Publisher

After the Woods:

"Savage offers up a mystery wrapped in a psychological breakthrough tied with the bow of lyrical language. The characters are engaging beyond their habitation of an intricately woven plot and supply readers with the motivation to care beyond the simple solving of the mystery. A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A remarkable, engrossing debut about what it means to be a survivor and the many ways to take control of your own destiny." —Booklist, starred review

"An entertaining mystery that will appeal to fans of Law & Order–type plots." —School Library Journal

"In her debut novel, After the Woods, Savage tells a story not unfamiliar from the five o’clock news, except this time the viewer is given a more detailed look into the incident. What results is an ability to empathize with the victim but also to fully comprehend the motives of the perpetrator, a man with limited intellect obsessed with an online fantasy world." —VOYA

VOYA, February 2016 (Vol. 38, No. 6) - Erin Segreto
It has been a year since Julia was taken by a man she stumbled upon while running in the woods. Unlike most kidnapping stories, she was not his original intended victim. Julia’s friend, Liv, was caught first but escaped to run away and leave Julia behind with a madman. With very few memories of what happened for two days while her assailant chased her, Julia is trying to pick up the pieces and move on with her life, except that she cannot let it go as easily as everyone else seems to be able. Why would Liv run away so carelessly and why is she behaving like this was no big deal? The fact that Julia was not raped makes it seem to Liv that it was little more than a prank. When the body of a dead girl is discovered in those same woods, Julia’s memories begin to surface. With Liv’s increasingly erratic behavior and strange involvement in a dangerous online role-playing game, Julia does not know what she can trust, her friends or her fleeting memories. An overzealous reporter is also after the story, but can Julia discover the truth first for herself? In her debut novel, After The Woods, Savage tells a story not unfamiliar from the five o’clock news, except this time the viewer is given a more detailed look into the incident. What results is an ability to empathize with the victim but also to fully comprehend the motives of the perpetrator, a man with limited intellect obsessed with an online fantasy world. There are brief descriptions of the violence inflicted upon the victims but the emphasis is more on terror than physical details. Casual drug use is mentioned, which is appropriate to the suspense thriller Savage has created. Reviewer: Erin Segreto; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
12/01/2015
Gr 9 Up—The one time Julia runs fast enough to keep up with her best friend, Liv, during their training in the woods, she witnesses Liv get attacked by a strange man. Julia intervenes, putting herself in danger instead. Abducted by the man, Julia escapes two days later. She insists to Liv, her therapist, and her mother that she survived the attack relatively unscathed. After a body surfaces in the same woods almost a year later, Julia starts to experience post-traumatic stress disorder-related flashbacks and realizes that there's more to the story than the news coverage. She's not sure who to trust anymore but enlists the help of her mousy neighbor, a glamorous newscaster, and the dreamy son of the local police chief to unravel the connections. The plot is twisty and dramatic; the references to trauma and abuse are more titillating than profound, giving the serious subject matter a breathless tone. At times it seems like the author tries to address too many timely subjects instead of delving more deeply into one or two, and some of the characterizations seem forced, but the writing is clear and accessible. VERDICT An entertaining, if choppy mystery that will appeal to fans of Law & Order-type plots.—Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-10-14
Even after surviving the kind of ordeal most people don't, Julia still doesn't feel safe. Julia thought she knew what evil was: Donald Jessup was the man she'd had to escape from after he attacked her and her best friend, Liv, in the woods nearly a year ago. And he's dead, killed by his own hand in jail. So why does she still feel the need to investigate her own case? Why does she keep a notebook of evidence and discoveries? When a dead body is found in those same woods, Julia starts asking more question and even lets local reporter Paula Papademitriou help her in exchange for an exclusive interview. But the information Paula unearths makes Julia rethink her memories, her relationships, and Liv's secrets. Savage offers up a mystery wrapped in a psychological breakthrough tied with the bow of lyrical language. The characters are engaging beyond their habitation of an intricately woven plot and supply readers with the motivation to care beyond the simple solving of the mystery. The mystery, in fact, almost pales in comparison to the richness of the relationships, Julia's discovery of her own strength, and the examination of the different forms of evil. A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect. (Mystery. 14-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374300562
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
02/23/2016
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
254,636
File size:
411 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

After the Woods


By Kim Savage

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2016 Kimberley Haas Savage
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-30056-2


CHAPTER 1

353 Days After the Woods


Statistically speaking, girls like me don't come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us.

According to my research, in 88.5% of all abductions, the kid is killed within the first four hours. In 76% of those cases, it's within the first two hours. So when they found me alive after nearly two days, the reporters called it a miracle.

They liked it even better when they found out Donald Jessup didn't want me at first. He wanted Liv. But I took her place. Not only did they have a miracle, they had a martyr. In the eleven months since the abduction, more than half of the Shiverton Star's stories (so, thirty-two of them) have been about us. And Paula Papademetriou, who lives right here in Shiverton and anchors the evening WFYT News, still won't leave us alone.

Liv says we must move on.

It had rained a lot that November, and everyone's basement got water, and the high school gym flooded. The track warped in places where the water underneath forced it up, so the track team had to run in a pack all over town. Off hours and against coaches' rules, we trained in the woods.

I think Liv reminded Donald Jessup of a deer, all knees and angles and big brown eyes. In his sick mind he thought he was the Greek hunter-god Zagreus, his avatar in Prey, which he played 24/7 in his mother's house. Zagreus is the ancient Greek word for a hunter. My theory is Donald Jessup couldn't get enough of virtual Prey and decided to bring the action to life.

Liv doesn't let on that she used to be a bit of a gamer. Liv would never cop to knowing more about Prey than I do. It doesn't fit the perfect-girl image, the maintenance of which is her mother Deborah's full-time job. What little I know about Prey comes from my research — research that Liv wants me to stop. If Liv had her way, I'd have spent the last eleven months forgetting the woods ever happened.

Dr. Ricker, on the other hand, wants me to remember. Ricker is my new therapist, for better or for worse. The jury's still out on that one. Mom secured my first appointment the day we got home from the Berkshires. The trip started out as "a little time off" and lasted through the second half of sophomore year and the whole summer. I felt like one of those nervous Victorian ladies hustled by my mother to the English countryside for a rest cure. Less than a week after the woods, and as soon as the cops gave us permission, Professor Mom announced a sabbatical, pulled me out of school, and closed up the house. We hightailed it out of Shiverton in time for Thanksgiving for two at the vacation home I hadn't seen since I was nine due to Mom's workaholic tendencies. Mom said holing up 135 miles away from Shiverton would allow the media frenzy to die down. Also, it would give me time to get myself together: stop melting down at the sight of trees and such (for the record, Western Mass was the last place I should have been. So. Many. Trees.). But clearly it was a reflexive act. She was verging on a breakdown of her own, and needed to feel I was safe. After a while, between the homeschooling and our mutual lack of any friends, I actually looked forward to my visits with Patty Petty, RN, MS, CSW. Dr. Petty (Call me Patty!) was supposed to cleanse me of the trauma that I don't totally remember. Her expertise is expressive arts therapy, which involved staging interpretative dances of my feelings about Donald Jessup (I refused). We mostly ended up making masks out of paper and chicken wire, and drawing in what she called my art journal. I went along with it, mainly because Mom, in a weak moment during one of my crying jags, gave me her word this would be the extent of my therapy. But her word is weak. Because here I sit, as I have for all of September and October, on Elaine Ricker's cliché of a couch, deciding how to screw with today's template for Fixing Julia.

At least Patty Petty didn't make me play with dolls. "Seriously?" I groan as Ricker reaches for the basket under her desk.

Ricker is convinced Donald Jessup did something to me that I can't talk about, so I'm supposed to show her. That's where the anatomically correct dolls come in.

The basket rests on her lap. There are girl dolls and boy dolls.

"I know this is an unorthodox approach for someone your age. But I'm asking you to be open-minded," Ricker says.

"Open-minded means willing to play with dolls?" I ask.

"Uncovering lost memories is key to developing a plan for treatment. It may take a long time, and it may be painful. This is a marathon, not a race."

I want to ask if she's ever met a cliché she didn't like. But I stuff it, deep into my bowels, feeding the thing I think of as the black in my belly. I don't want to rouse the black because I actually like Ricker, with her glossy bangs, funky glasses, and big man hands. But that's not for her to know.

Best simply to remind her who's in charge.

"So I've been thinking about Newton's Third Law. Of Motion. You know: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," I say.

Ricker tucks the basket under her desk. "You can't touch without being touched."

"Exactly. Here's the thing. Two people, call them X and Y, are pushed by another person. Call him ... D. No wait: call him Z." I smile and continue. "We'll call the push 'force A.' If person Z exerts force A on persons X and Y, then persons X and Y exert an equal and opposite force A back on person Z. Axz = –Azx. And, Ayz = –Azy. You get pushed, you push back. Follow me?"

Her mouth parts, then shuts.

"Cool. So according to Newton's Third Law, how can Person Y not exert an equal and opposite reaction?" I say.

"You cannot compare individual responses to trauma," Ricker says.

"Work with me here."

She exhales through her nose. "Y wasn't pushed with the same force as X."

I sigh, throwing my boots up on the couch. "If you're more comfortable with dolls ..."

"Let me be clearer then. Only one of you was abducted."

"A psychopath dropped into our lives. Mine and Liv's. It was worse for me, I get that. But is it healthy to just go on, with no questions? Que sera, sera?"

"There is no useful outcome for comparing your recovery to Olivia Lapin's."

"I'm not talking about recovery. I'm talking about basic, everyday behavior."

Ricker scans her desk and settles on a small legal pad and a pencil. Her mouth twists as she scribbles for a second, then two.

I lean over my knees. "Are you sure that's how you spell 'que sera, sera'?"

I am a monster. She is trying to help me, and is probably the only person who can. Gosh knows I have a better chance talking with her than by mask making with Patty Petty, with her silver ponytail and turquoise and Wellies that smelled of manure.

"The most important thing to remember is that when an evil act is committed, the shame belongs to the perpetrator. Donald Jessup's shame is not your shame —"

"And my strength is my survival. I covered that with Patty Petty," I interrupt.

Ricker folds her swishy pant legs and leans back until her chair creaks. Dramatic leg swoops signal a change in tactic.

"It might help our progress to put a name on what you're experiencing. The clinical term is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD."

"That happens to me every month. I bloat and break out. One word: Motrin."

Ricker doesn't blink. "When a person experiences a physical threat, and the person's response involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror, certain side effects can result for that person. I'd like to explore if you're experiencing any of these side effects," she says calmly.

"As a person?"

Her face is blank.

"Just checking."

"Sometimes, the traumatic event is re-experienced over and over, in the form of dreams, or during the day, as intrusive thoughts. Do you have thoughts, Julia?"

"Never. I never think," I say, grinning.

"Another feature is avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma."

Liv thinks I have the opposite problem.

"Julia?"

"Still here. Not thinking."

"Perhaps it would help if I gave you a specific example. Because the abduction happened during track practice, you might avoid running."

"I still run. Like a madwoman. Like someone's chasing me. Doh, bad joke. And in case you're keeping count in your little notebook of the PTSD markers that I don't have, that's like the tenth negative."

The cell phone on her desk buzzes.

"Restricted range of effect? That means you're unable to have loving feelings where they previously existed," Ricker says.

"Are you going to pick up? It might be one of your kids."

She holds my eyes and turns the phone facedown. "Are you having difficulty feeling affection, Julia?"

"I'm as loving as ever. Ask my mother. You, I'm not so sure about, seeing as your kid might have an emergency and you're not answering your phone."

She pretends to write words, but draws small squares. "Irritability? Outbursts of anger?"

"Zen as ever. Ask my therapist."

She blinks at the phone.

"Maybe I'm projecting my own experience, but you are freaking me out by not answering that phone. Answer it. Seriously. I don't care."

"Normally I would never allow an interruption on our time. But that was my emergency ringtone. I promise this will only take a second."

"I won't tell," I stage-whisper.

Ricker says a deep hello, pressing the curve of her hand into her top lip as she listens. She sets the phone down and stares at it for a second.

"I was just yanking your chain about your daughter. Is everything okay?" I ask.

She smiles tightly at her lap, and when she looks up, she's the composed Ricker again. "I apologize. Where were we? Oh yes. We know for sure that you have the final symptom: inability to recall aspects of the trauma. That said, I'd like to hypnotize you."

"Whoa! What?"

"It will be like falling asleep. When you're fully under, I'll regress you to those lost moments."

"Can't we just wait for my memories to return?"

"It doesn't always work that way. Repressed memories can stay repressed for a lifetime. They're not like seeds. Shoots won't rise from the ground without some nurturing," she says.

"I'm not so sure of that. Ever hear of the yellow tansy? It's the worst invasive plant in North America, and it grows better when ignored. Pretty, fragrant, and totally poisonous."

"Once we understand the past, we can move forward."

My master plan — to humor Man Hands while secretly rejecting her textbook dogma — suddenly seems wrongheaded. If she wants to understand what happened in the woods, we're on the same page.

"I'm all for understanding," I say.

The secretary's light tap at the door signals Ricker's next appointment is waiting. I lean across the couch, reaching for my bag on the floor.

"Julia," Ricker says suddenly. "The reporters. They'll be back."

I sit up slowly, frowning. "Why would you say that?"

"Slow news cycle." Ricker rushes over her words. "Or they might try to make a big deal out of the one-year anniversary. It's less than two weeks away."

"I'm aware."

"You need to be prepared to reject them completely."

"You make it sound as if I actually like the attention."

"I simply want to be clear about where you should put your energy in the days ahead. The media is in the business of selling stories. Our business is healing you."

I consider pointing out that, unlike the media, not one of the persons supposedly concerned with my healing has used the word brave to describe what I did. As in, Brave Teen Saves Friend, Brave Girl Fights Off Predator, or Lucky Teen Escapes Attacker Because of Brave Friend. Nor do they take advantage of the delightful wordplay my name affords: Meet Julia Spunk, a teen whose name suits her perfectly.

"If your business is healing me, then isn't it in your interest that I stay broken?"

"Maybe I'm not being clear. I'm advising your mother that you should stay away from all press."

Deep in my belly, the black thing shifts. "I can handle it," I insist.

"When it comes to the press, it's your mother's job to handle it. I know it's hard to hear this, but the work we have to do is here, in this room." She sits back and sweeps her hand in front of her head — "Here" — and her chest — "And here."

She's losing my favor fast. I roll my eyes so hard I see stars. "We're done, right?"

Ricker nods, tucking her lips. I scramble off the couch and yank my cuff down to cover the metal doorknob, one of many tricks for never being cold again. The door opens and there is Mom, a shudder through her springy, dark curls.

"I apologize! It was me knocking," she calls to Ricker, then leans in and says in her shrink-shop undertone: "I need a few minutes to catch up with Dr. Ricker, and I wanted to make sure she had time for me before her next appointment."

"Sorry I used every minute. I won't do it again," I say.

Her smile falls. "You can't think I minded."

"I didn't. I was teasing."

"Oh!" She reaches to smooth my hair, then stops. "I won't be long."

I watch Mom slide through the door, a sliver of a woman, birdlike, with a small head and hollow bones. I take over her chair, feeling ungainly, stretch my legs, and scan the room, daring someone to say something. A fat kid with emo hair and a mole on his cheek points his phone at my head and takes a photo.

"For real? I'm right here!" I lean over my knees. "I. Can. See. You."

He jams the phone into his jacket and rises, shuffling over to a receptionist talking into a headpiece. He begs her for the men's room key, which she shoves through a glass arch. The last thing I need is this loser posting my photo for his pals to ogle. I trail him into the bathroom and kick open the door.

"Give me your phone."

"This is the men's room, freak!"

The black thing in my belly flicks. "Give it or I'll send that mole to the other side of your face."

"Here." He holds it up. "Look, I'm deleting it."

I swipe the phone from his doughy hand and pitch it over the stall wall. His eyes widen at the porcelain clatter, followed by a plop.

"What the ...?"

I harden my gut. "Now it's deleted."

His mouth opens and shuts soundlessly. Finally, he stalks into the stall, reappearing with his dripping phone. "What do you even care if I send your picture to a couple of my friends?" He pulls paper towels from the holder on the wall. "It's not like your face isn't going to be back all over the news by the end of the day."

I remember Ricker's weird warnings. What are she and this dork talking about? I squint at him.

He wraps his phone inside a mealy towel wad, shaking his head. "Who would ever guess that in person, you'd be such a bitch?"

"Excuse me?"

"I mean, if anything, I'd expect you'd be super happy. Grateful, even."

"Grateful?" I hiss, my breath hot behind my teeth. "That's rich."

"Yeah, grateful. Most people would feel lucky they got out alive."

I snort, an ugly noise that echoes off the stalls and lingers. "Thank you so much for putting everything into perspective for me, Moleman. What am I even seeing Elaine Ricker for? I could just come see you! But here's the thing." I poke his soft shoulder. "Dr. Ricker isn't a fan of her patients showing up on the Internet. Pictures of them at her office and whatnot. It's a violation of patient confidentiality. I wonder how she'll take your little transgression. Drop you as a client, I imagine."

He jabs his sausage finger in the air at me. "Oh man. Now I get it."

"Sorry, too harsh? You prefer your abductees with cream and sugar?"

"You haven't seen the news, have you?"

"I've been the news, Dough Boy. And I can tell you, it sucks. So no, I don't watch much of it these days."

The mole slides toward his ear in a sickening grin. "Then you don't know about the body."

* * *

The video is at the top of the WFYT Web site. I tap Play on my phone's touchscreen. Hometown gal–slash–glamorous ladyanchor Paula Papademetriou ticks her voice down a notch, the way she does when she's talking about Nor'easters, school shootings, and Liv and me: "A couple out walking their dog early this morning stumbled upon a body police believe to be eighteen-year-old Ana Alvarez, who went missing while jogging in the Sheepfold section of the Middlesex Fells Reservation in August of last year. Many are wondering about the involvement of a man arrested for an attack on two local girls in these same woods nearly one year ago."

The cold and nausea come at once, like they sometimes do, and prickles erupt on my chest. I jam my phone deep in my pocket and take the back stairs one floor up, duck into the women's room, and lock the door. I tug my cuffs down before pressing my palms against the chilly walls, and sway over the toilet, willing the black, or lunch, or anything to expel itself so I will feel better. Nothing comes.

Get ahold of yourself, Julia. A body in the woods is just another fact.

To normal people, researching facts about abductions, and then your own abduction, labels you all kinds of morbid. But research soothes me. The methodical ordering of gathered facts is a beautiful thing, especially when I order them in ways that make me feel safe. If I put my hand over my heart while I reread the facts I've collected in my Mead wide-ruled black marble composition notebook, my heart beats slower. I sway out of the bathroom and down the stairs, leaning outside Ricker's waiting room. I slide down the wall. The carpet smells of cleaning chemicals and mud from shoes, but it's not a totally unpleasant spot to sit. "You are good," I whisper to myself, rubbing my knuckles across my chest with one hand and feeling through my messenger bag with the other. I touch my notebook's hard taped spine, then a pencil. On a clean page, I draw a circle. Next to it, I draw a second overlapping circle of equal size.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from After the Woods by Kim Savage. Copyright © 2016 Kimberley Haas Savage. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Kim Savage was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and received her degree in English from Stonehill College. She lives with her husband and three children north of Boston, Massachusetts. After the Woods is her debut novel.
Kim Savage was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and received her degree in English from Stonehill College. She lives with her husband and three children north of Boston, Massachusetts. After the Woods is her debut novel.

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After the Woods 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'After the Woods' is a chilling young adult mystery/thriller novel that will have readers eagerly devouring its pages to see what will happen next. The story is unique and original with rounded characters and a plot full of unexpected twists and turns. One of the things that makes this book so different from others like it is that the story doesn't focus solely on what happened while our main character, Julia, was in the woods. It deals almost entirely with what happens in Julia's life after she was rescued. I found this to be a refreshing vantage point and it didn't take away from the suspense at all. Julia - our main character and narrator - was taken into the woods by a dangerous man and stayed there for 48 hours. We learn bits and pieces of what happened during that time as Julia experiences flashbacks that allow her to remember details of those days that had been previously locked away in her mind. I loved trying to decipher all of the memories and figure out what happened before the characters do - it's one of the many reasons why I love this genre so much. Aside from the flashbacks and details of what happened to Julia in the woods, we get to see how the experience changed her and Liv - the friend she rescued from the attacker. This was a very intriguing part of the book and I enjoyed seeing how the experience had changed each girl. During this part of the novel, we are able to see the real life consequences Julia and Liv must deal with every day. It speaks in detail about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and how the trauma impacted Julia's life and changed her in so many ways. I really liked that the author included this topic in the book because it's so relevant to the story and to today's society. I liked watching Julia change and grow during the book - as she begins to remember everything that happened to her as well as dealing with it and eventually being able to heal and move on with her life. One of the final things that I loved about the story was the author's writing style; the book is told in the first person point of view - from Julia's perspective. I'm a huge fan of first person POV because of the deeply personal connection the reader can develop with the narrator - which is exactly what happened for me with this book. I found myself empathizing and relating to Julia right from the beginning of the story, and those feelings only grew stronger throughout the novel. We get to know everything about Julia - her thoughts, fears, feelings, hopes and dreams, memories, and so much more. By the end of the book, it felt like I had been right there alongside Julia the entire time - or as if she was telling me the story herself or in a journal - which made it all the more realistic for me. Overall, this was a fantastic YA mystery/thriller with a lot more going on than meets the eye. The writing style was solid and well done, which gives the book a complexity that wouldn't have otherwise been possible. I definitely recommend this book for fans of the genre along with readers who enjoy suspense, horror, and survival stories! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
A twisty psychological mystery that kept me guessing. Liv and Julia are a fascinating character study and the subtle commentary on media and journalism was so good. This multilayered and gorgeous book has me very excited to see what Kim Savage does next.
ReedsReadsReviews More than 1 year ago
I bring this review to you today after hours of slaving away at my keyboard in pain – sort of like how I felt while reading this book. For those of you who don’t know, I broke my thumb last week and I am currently sporting a full, special Sammi-sized thumb cast – which, as you can imagine, makes typing very, very difficult. But I do so because this is a book that needs to be shared, talked about, and cherished in ways that are impossible to describe. After The Woods is terrifying, plain and simple. This book will give you the chills like you’ve never had them before and it will make you enjoy it. After The Woods will bring tears to your eyes, it will make you bite your tongue so hard you’ll taste your own blood, and it will make you scream in rage all while clinging desperate to the edge of your seat. I have never read a book like this before. Books… they don’t usually scare me. They don’t make me want to look over my shoulder and they don’t make me so obviously frightened even my friends ask if I’m alright. Until now, that is. After The Woods is a very special book – it was powerful, intoxicating, and it forced me to see things in a new light that I hadn’t even known existed before hand. This book will change you – it will make you painfully aware of what is out there and just how little you truly know the people whom you call friends, even if you’ve known them for years. After The Woods brings into question just what you should sacrifice for the people you call friends. It examines the unintended consequences of selflessness. Julia Spunk was out running with her friend Olivia, or Liv, when Liv ran ahead and was violently attacked. Julia comes upon the scene and tackles Liv’s attacker, and then Liv abandons her and Julia is kidnapped. She spends two days being hunted in the woods like some sick game… and her best friend ran away. Left her there. Think about that for a second… just, wow. This book takes place a year after the events of the woods, hence the title. But, boy, the woods were not the end of it. You can’t walk away from something like that and not be different – just as Julia is different. Julia is our main protagonist, and I love her. She is cold, calculating, morbid, and everything you think someone who suffered what she did would be. She loves Liv, she lives her life day to day trying to sort through all the information she possibly can while simultaneously trying to figure out just what happened in those woods. She is broken, but strong. Traumatized but defiant and unafraid to puzzle things out most people would want to leave alone. She is so, so strong – it was truly something beautiful to read. I, in all honesty, felt like it was an honor to be in her head and read her thoughts. Now, Liv. Liv I want to strangle, hit over the head with a chair, and then strangle again. She was horrible. She was the complete opposite of Julia and the epitome of a character who is an integral part to a story even though you hate their guts. Overall, After The Woods is an astounding and shocking thriller of a book that I will never forget. A story of bravery, friendship, and what it means to be a survivor – After The Woods will haunt you. This book will plague the back of your mind forever and you will love every second of it. Full of twists and turns you won’t see coming, this book is something I will not be likely to let go for a very, very long time.
KathyMacMillan More than 1 year ago
At once a twisty psychological thriller, an exploration of the shifting boundaries of friendship, and the story of two teenage girls attempting to navigate the toxic situations they have been dealt, this book will haunt you long after you reach the last page. Julia’s been called a hero, a miracle, a plucky teen who beat the odds – but she knows that there is more below the surface of the day that she attacked the man trying to kidnap her best friend, Liv, and was then taken by him in her place. Despite Liv’s deflections and the advice of her mother and therapist, Julia is determined to find out the truth – even if that means turning to a skeevy reporter ready to use Julia to further her own career. Julia made it out of the woods alive, but will she – and her friendship with Liv - survive the aftermath?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall a great book! It was so supenseful and kept me wanting to read. I highly recommend it!
Allan Haas More than 1 year ago
After The Woods is a book for more than YA readers I found it was very well written, Even after finishing it I found myself reading portions of it over and over just for the enjoyment of reading .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. A true thriller from start to finish, it's a must read. I can't wait for Kim Savage's next book!
CCG123 More than 1 year ago
I was riveted by this book and could not put it down. The plot is fascinating and the writing is superb. I highly recommend After the Woods.
PrincessicaOfBooks More than 1 year ago
I don’t know why, no I really don’t know why, but I only read this at night or in the dark. It wasn’t because I wanted to make the experience, say, more realistic. It’s just that that was the only time I was inclined to read. With that being said, here’s a tip: Don’t read this at 1:15 in the morning, when the house is asleep and the world is dark. You will get scared and you will stay up for an extra hour watching cat videos. After the Woods was definitely suspenseful, at least in my opinion. However, like I said, I am scared easily. It didn’t actually have the traditional scary things, like axe-murderers or spiders, but it did keep me questioning, “What if?” Like all good thrillers, almost each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger and some vague-but-it’ll-mean-something-later sentence or two. I think that is what is kept me reading. I really liked what Savage did with the media aspect. She showed us to not believe everything that the media provides– they twist it and morph it and not everyone is trustworthy. Media can be corrupt; words can be manipulated. I find that this is becoming more and more important as we experience new problems like police brutality, terrorism, and other world/human problems. I will admit that it’s very evident that Savage did her research and investigation. This curiosity is clearly transmitted into Julia’s character. I really admire how much research went into this because it shows how dedicated she is to her debut. However, there are things I didn’t like and didn’t work for me. First of all, it wasn’t really a mystery. It sounds like a mystery, but it didn’t feel like it. SPOILER: Already from the beginning, you are told Donald Jessup is dead. Kidnaper is gone from the story.. now what? END SPOILER. I get what Savage was trying to do but I don’t think was done correctly. The climax was just anticlimactic. In fact, I read a lot of this novel in a nonchalant voice, which isn’t the best thing when reading a thriller. I also felt that the romance was unnecessary. After the Woods is one of those books that don’t need romance to work. It was bit unbalanced. For example, the therapist that is a really big character in the beginning is hardly in it at the end. The main character did a few stupid things that made me want to scream at her, “WHY. SHE TOLD YOU NOT TO, OH MY GOSH.” Overall, I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and even though I didn’t enjoy After the Woods as much I had hoped, it’s still pushing me to read more thrillers and suspense.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
After The Woods received some killer reviews on Goodreads. At first, that surprised me a little, because honestly, I didn’t like it that much. So maybe I just didn’t get it, or maybe I’m not the intended audience for this book – I have to admit I read a lot of thrillers, so I don’t get scared easily, and this book certainly didn’t succeed in doing that. Given that most people do seem to like it, don’t be put off by my review. Tastes differ, and maybe I just have peculiar taste. Anyway, on to the review. Two girls go into the woods. Julia and Liv. But only one makes it out – Liv. Julia spends two more days in the woods with a mad man, and narrowly manages to escape. Fast-forward one year. Liv is bent on self-destruction, almost like she was the one traumatized, not Julia. A dead girl is found in the woods, and this brings back all the memories o what happened to Julia in the woods. As she starts to uncover the truth, she learns horrible secrets she never wished she knew… At first glance, the plot sounds great. And it starts off with a bang too. Unfortunately, it quickly goes downhill from there. First of all, the book has no suspense. It was fairly obvious to me what had happened even from the start. The killer is dead too, by the way, so that’s solved already. The whole media aspect was interesting but pushed a tad too far, becoming slightly unrealistic. I did like Julia, though. She was tenacious, intelligent, witty, and I liked her interactions with the other characters. I could’ve done without the romance. It didn’t really add to the narrative, and I thought the characters lacked chemistry. All in all, it was enjoyable, but not entirely my cup of tea. I thought it would have more suspense and would keep me on the edge of my seat – alas, not. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
SMParker More than 1 year ago
Do you like your psychological thrillers dark? Compelling? Complicated? Then read the first harrowing scene in After the Woods and try to put it down. (spoiler alert: you won’t be able to). Savage’s debut tells a tale of the warped lengths a person will go to in order to discover (or hide) their true self. Her characters are haunted and hunted, and she’ll keep you guessing about the real enemy right up until the end. AFTER THE WOODS is only the beginning of a journey that will take you to Before The Woods and back. Sound twisted? It is. In all the right ways. Watch your step.