Aftertime (Aftertime Series #1)

Aftertime (Aftertime Series #1)

by Sophie Littlefield

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Original)

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Overview

Awakening in a bleak landscape, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls enduring something terrible. Having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: her daughter, Ruthie, has vanished. And with her, nearly all of civilization. Instead of winding through the once-lush hills, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider—much less one who bears the telltale scars of a Beater attack—but she finds safety with an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. And she'll need him more than ever when his ragged band of survivors learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, weapons in a brave new world….

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373803521
Publisher: Luna
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Series: Aftertime Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri and attended college in Indiana. She worked in technology before having children, and was lucky enough to stay home with them while they were growing up. She writes novels for kids and adults, and lives in Northern California. Visit her online at www.SophieLittlefield.com.

Read an Excerpt

That it was summer was not in doubt. The nights were much too short and the days too long. Something about the color of the sky said August to Cass. Maybe the blue was bluer. Hadn't autumn signaled itself that way Before, a gradual intensifying of colors as summer trailed into September?

Once, Cass would have been able to tell from the wildflowers growing in the foothills where she ran. In August petals fell from the wild orange poppies, the stonecrop darkened to purplish brown, and butterweed puffs drifted in lazy breezes. Deer grew bold, drinking from the creek that ran along the road. The earth dried and cracked, and lizards and beetles stared out from their hiding places among the weeds.

But that was two lives ago, so far back that it was like a story that had once been told to Cass, a story maybe whispered by a lover as she drifted off to sleep after one too many Jack and Cokes, ephemeral and hazy at the edges. She might not believe it at all, except for Ruthie. Ruthie had loved the way butterweed silk floated in the air when she blew on the puffs.

Ruthie, who she couldn't see or touch or hold in her arms. Ruthie, who screamed when the social workers dragged her away, her legs kicking desperately at nothing. Mim and Byrn wouldn't even look at Cass as she collapsed to the dirty floor of the trailer and wished she was dead.

Ruthie had been two.

Cass pushed herself to go faster, her strides long and sure up over a gentle rise in the road. She was barely out of breath. This was nothing, less than nothing. She dug her hard, sharp nails into the calluses of her thumbs. Hard, harder, hardest. The skin there was built up against her abuse and refused to bleed. To break it she would need something sharper than her nail. Teeth might work, but Cass would not use her teeth. It was enough to use her nails until the pain found an opening into her mind. The pain was enough.

She had covered a lot of ground this moon-bright night. Now it was almost dawn, the light from the rising sun creeping up over the black-blue forest skeletons, a crescent aura of orange glow in the sky. When the first slice of sun was visible she'd leave the road and melt into what was left of the trees. There was cover to be found—some of the native shrubs had survived. Grease-wood and creosote still grew neck high in some places.

And it was easy to spot them. You saw them before they saw you, and then you hid, and you prayed. If they saw you at all, if they came close enough to smell you, you were worse than dead.

Cass stayed to the edge of the cracked pavement of what had been Highway 161, weaving around the occasional abandoned car, forcing herself not to look inside. You never knew what you would see. Often nothing, but…it was just better not to look. Chunks of the asphalt had been pushed aside by squat kaysev plants that had managed to root in the cracks. Past the shoulder great drifts of it grew, the dark glossy leaves hiding clusters of pods. The plants were smooth-stemmed without burrs or thorns. Walking among them was not difficult. But walking on pavement allowed Cass, now and then—and never when she was trying—to let her mind go back to another time…and when she was really lucky, to pretend all the way back two lifetimes ago.

Taking Ruthie, barely walking, down the sidewalk to the 7-Eleven, buying her a blue raspberry Slurpee, because Ruthie loved to stick out her blue tongue and look at herself in the mirror. Cutting across the school parking lot on the way home, jumping over the yellow lines, lifting Ruthie's slight body and swinging her, laughing, through the air.

Yes, pavement was nice. Cass had good shoes, though she didn't remember where she got them. They seemed like they might have been men's shoes, plain brown lace-up walking shoes, but they fit her feet. A small man, then. How she'd got the shoes from him…it didn't bear thinking about. The shoes were good, they were comfortable and hadn't given her blisters or sores despite the many days of walking.

A movement caught her eye, off in the spiky remains of the woods. Cass stopped abruptly and scanned the tree skeletons and shrubs. A flash of white, was it? Or was it only the way the light was rising in the sky, reflected off…what, though? There were only the bare trunks of the dead cypress and pine trees, a stand of dead manza-nita, the low thick growth of kaysev, a few of the boulder formations that dotted the Sierra Foothills.

Snap

Cass whipped her head around and saw the flash again, a fast-moving blur of fabric and oh God it was white, a slip of a little dark-haired girl in a dirty white shirt who was sprinting toward her at a speed that Cass could not imagine anyone moving, Cass who had run thousands of desperate blacktop miles one life ago, trying to erase everything, running until her legs ached and her lungs felt like tearing paper and her mind was almost but never quite empty.

But even Cass had never run like this girl.

She was twelve or thirteen. Maybe even fourteen, it was hard to tell now. Before, the fourteen-year-olds looked like twenty-year-olds, with their push-up bras and eyeliner. But hardly anyone dressed like that anymore.

The girl held the blade the way they taught the kids now, firmly in front of her where it would have the best chance of slicing through a Beater's flesh. Because that's what she thought Cass was, a Beater, and the thought hit Cass in the gut and nearly knocked her over with revulsion. Her hands went to her hairline where the hair was just growing back in, soft tufts, an inch at most. She knew how her arms looked, covered with scabs, almost worse now that they were healing, the patches of flesh falling away as the healthy skin pushed to the surface. But that was nothing compared to the ruin of her back.

She hadn't been able to clean herself in days, and she knew she carried the smell. The long hair on the back of her head, the hair she hadn't pulled out, was knotted and tangled. Her nails were blackened and broken. Real Beaters usually had no nails left, but how could the girl be expected to notice a detail like that?

In the second or two it took the girl to cross the last dozen yards of scrubby land, Cass considered standing firm, wrists out, chin up, giving her an easy target. They were taught well; any child over the age of five could find the jugular, the femoral, the carotid, the ulnar. They practiced on dummies rigged from dolls and clothes stuffed with straw. Sometimes, they practiced on the dead.

At the last minute Cass stepped out of the way.

She didn't know why. It would have been easier, so much easier, to welcome the blade, to let it find its path to her vital core and feel the blessed release of her blood, still hot and red despite everything, bubbling over the slice in her flesh, falling to the hardened earth. Maybe her blood would help the land heal faster. Maybe on the spot where her blood fell, one of the plants from Before would return. A delicate mountain bluebell; they had been her favorite, the tiny blossoms shading from pale sky blue to deep lilac.

But Cass stepped out of the way.

Damn her soul.

Three times now it had refused to die, when death would have been so much easier.

Cass watched almost impassively as her foot shot forward, nimbly, her stance steady and her balance near perfect. The girl's eyes went wide. She tripped, and in the last moment, when the blade flew from her hand and she lurched toward Cass, the terror in her eyes was enough to break Cass's heart, if only she still had one to break.



Everyone remembered the first time they saw a Beater. Usually, it was more than one, because even in the early days they gathered in packs, three or four or more of them prowling the edges of town.

Cass saw hers in the QikGo.

Cass worked in the QikGo until the end. Where else would she go? She couldn't leave Silva, not without Ruthie. But as the world fell apart—as famine crippled Africa and South Asia, as one G8 capital after another fell to panic and riots in the wake of random airbursts, as China went dark and Australia mined its shores—Mim and Byrn held on all the tighter to their granddaughter. Cass had no detailed plan, only to wait until there were no more police, no sheriffs, no social workers, no one willing to come when Mim and Byrn called them to block Cass from seeing her daughter or even setting foot on their property.

When that day came, she would go to their house and she would take Ruthie back. By force if she had to. It would hurt, to see the anger and contempt on her mother's face, but no more than it had hurt her that Mim refused to acknowledge how far Cass had come, how hard she had worked to be worthy of Ruthie. The ninety-days chip she kept on her key chain. The two-year medallion she'd earned before her single relapse. The job she'd held through it all—maybe managing a convenience store wasn't the most impressive career in the world, but at least she was helping people in small ways every day rather than fleecing them out of their money, the way Byrn did with his questionable investment strategies. But she and her mother saw things through very different lenses.

It would not hurt Cass to see her stepfather, who was finally weaker than she was, his ex-linebacker frame now old and frail compared to her own body, which she had made lean and hard with her relentless running. She anticipated the look of powerlessness on Byrn's face as she took away the only thing he could hurt her with. She looked forward even more to the moment when he knew he had lost. She would never forgive him, but maybe once she got Ruthie back, she could start forgetting.

That time was almost upon them. Cell phone service had started to go in the last few days and the landlines hadn't worked for a week. Televisions had been broadcasting static since the government's last official communication deputizing power and water workers; that had been such a spectacular failure, skirmishes breaking out in the few remaining places there had been peace before, that the rumor was the government had shut down all the media on purpose. Some said it was the Russian hackers. Now they said the power was out over in Angel's Camp, and every gas station in town had been looted except for Bill's Shell, where Bill and his two sons-in-law were taking shifts with a brace of hunting rifles.

Who was going to care about the fate of one little girl now?

Two days earlier Cass had stopped taking money from customers unless it was offered. Some people seemed to find comfort in clinging to routines from what was quickly becoming "Before"—and if people reached for their wallets then Cass made change. People took strange things. There were those who had come early on for the toilet paper and aspirin and bottled water—and all the alcohol, to Cass's relief. Now people wandered the aisles aimlessly and took random items that would do them no good anymore. A prepaid calling card, a map.

Meddlin, her boss, hadn't made an appearance for a few days. The QikGo, Cass figured, was all hers. No matter. She didn't care about Meddlin. The others, the fragile web of workers who staffed the other shifts, had been gone since the media went silent.

On a brisk March morning, a day after the lights started to flicker and fail, Cass was talking to Teddy, a pale boy from the community college who lived in the apartments down the block with a handful of roommates who didn't seem to like him very much. Cass made coffee, wondering if it would be the last time, and wiped down the counter. There hadn't been a dairy delivery in weeks, so she set out a can of the powdered stuff.

When the door jangled they both turned and looked.

"Feverish," Teddy said quietly. Cass nodded. The ones who'd been eating the blueleaf—the ones who'd lived—were unmistakable. The fever made their skin glow with a thin sheen of perspiration. Their movements were clumsy. But most remarkable were their eyes: the pupils contracted to tiny black dots. In dark-eyed people the effect was merely unsettling; in pale-eyed people it was both captivating and frightening.

If everything hadn't fallen apart, there would have undoubtedly been teams of doctors and scientists gathering the sick and studying and caring for and curing them. As it was, all but those closest to the sick were just happy they kept to themselves.

"Glass over over," one of them said, a man whose plaid shirt was buttoned wrong so that one side hung farther down than the other, speaking to no one in particular. A second, a woman with lank brown hair that lay around her shoulders in uncombed masses, walked to a rack that held only a few bags of chips and pushed it with a stiff outstretched hand, and as it fell to the floor, she smiled and laughed, not bothering to jump out of the way of the bags which popped and sprayed dry crumbs.

"Gehhhh," she crowed, and Cass noticed something else strange about her, something she hadn't seen before. The woman's arms were raw and red, blood dried in patches, the skin chafed and missing in spots. It almost looked like a metal grater had been run up and down her arms, her shoulders, the tops of her hands. Cass checked the others: their flesh was also covered in scabs.

Cold alarm traveled up Cass's spine. Something was wrong—very wrong. Something even worse than the fever and the unfocused eyes and the incoherent speech. She thought she recognized one of the group, a short muscular man of about forty, whose complicated facial hair was growing out into a sloppy beard. He used to come in for cigarettes every couple of days. He was wearing filthy tan cargo shorts, and the skin above his knees was covered with the same sort of cuts and scrapes as his forearms.

"Hey," she said to him. He was standing in front of a shelf that held the few personal products left in the store—bottles of shampoo and mouthwash, boxes of Band-Aids. "Would you like…"

Her voice trailed off as he turned and stared at her with wide unblinking blue eyes. "Dome going," he said softly, then raised his wounded forearm to his face and, eyes still fixed on her, licked his lips and took a delicate nip at his red, glistening skin. His teeth closed on the damaged flesh and pulled, the raw layers of dermis pulling away from his arm, stretching and then splitting, a shred of flesh about the size of a match tearing away, leaving a bright, tiny spot of blood that glistened and pooled into a larger drop.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Evocative, sensual, harrowing." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A fantastic new dystopian series...Littlefield's compelling writing will keep readers turning pages late into the night to find out what happens next. Outstanding!" Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars

-RT Book Reviews

"I loved this novel-it was Stephen King's The Stand in a bra and panties."

-Paul Goat Allen

"Wildly original, guaranteed to give you nightmares...examines the strength of one woman, the joy of acceptance and the power of love. A must read."

-JT Ellison, author of The Immortals

Customer Reviews

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Aftertime 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
aliciasays More than 1 year ago
I liked the story and the determination of Cass to find her daughter, but I'm taking away a star because the editorial mistakes really bother me. There were random
The_Alternative More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has read my book review blog for long knows that I really enjoy a good post-apocalyptic zombie story every once in a while (actually find them hard to resist) and that's exactly what Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield is, a very good zombie book. Forget the Beaters (zombies) for a moment and why they've changed into crazed flesh-eaters. Put aside the fact that the world has pretty much come to an abrupt and disappointing end. What carries this narrative is the character development and quest motif. Littlefield's characters are fully fleshed out (no pun intended) and real. Some are mysterious, others evil and self-serving, most are flawed and a few even resemble people I know. Which is what makes them so compelling. Everyone who's ever loved a child will understand the motive driving the main character. That it occurs in a savage, wasted land makes it that much more interesting. There's nothing inherently unique about this particular zombie story but because it reads so quickly and the plot is so compelling you won't want to put it down. An enjoyable time away from the mundane this novel is a recommended for all the zombie and post-apocalyptic fans out there. (You know who you are!) 4 out of 5 stars The Alternative Southeast Wisconsin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post apocalyptic meets an Oprah book. I found reading thru this book that it was very interesting to read if not for all the hoopla. A women who survived a zombie like disease...then it just got boring. The plot moves along slowly only because the author keeps going back to the main characters past alcoholism and promiscuousity ...over and over and over...and over. The author kept going back to these so much that I actually verbally groaned after awhile and made myself read faster just to get thru these parts. Not to mention that the main character keeps getting hugged by people and then she cries, and cries...and cries. It made me wonder if the author had written this book to get some of her own problems off her chest and if she did you can actually read why she never got over any of them. Just read the first book of the series. Yer an alcoholic, you were promiscous in your youth, you couldn't take care of your kid and you survived a zombie-esque attack...got it. Now can we get to the story already....without so many huggsies. I'm not saying the author has to be more visceral, I don't need need non stop blood and guts...a good story that goes somewhere would be good enough, Just stop backtracking on your story so much and this would be a great read.
Megan Villani More than 1 year ago
Could be better. Interesting storyline and subject, but it would have been better with more character developement. Hope #2 is better!
JamesMarie More than 1 year ago
I was sorely disappointed in this book. The build up is not there and the character development is very thin. The only relationship between characters that can be related to is with the mother/daughter bond. The other relationships are very thin. Then, at the end of the book you are lead to believe there is a very tight bond between the lead character and her secondary which left me shaking my head. I think if Littlefield had taken this book to the next level and worked on the character relationships a little more it could have been a really fun read. As it is, the attention getting story is just not there.
badklv More than 1 year ago
Aftertime is a post-apocalyptic world, a desert of destruction, where disease has run rampant, and houses, towns, and cities have been ransacked. In this world, nighttime is man's best friend and Zombies "Beaters" outnumber human survivors. Aside from starvation, unbelievably unsanitary conditions, and the constant threat of losing your mind, being attacked and torn to pieces by a Beater is a survivor's biggest fear. After a bite, a victim's eyes glow, followed by extreme fever, followed by an emptiness that fills their entire being until the inevitable.they become one of them.the enemy. But Cass Dollar is an anomaly. She's been attacked, suffered the excruciating symptoms of the venomous Beater bite and survived, even healed from the severe wounds left behind. How did Cass survive and is she now a carrier of the lethal virus? Cass begins a journey across California Aftertime searching for answers and something precious separated from her during her attack. When I initially read the synopsis of Aftertime I was leery that it may be too far outside my comfort zone, first, because on the surface there looked to be no heavy romance involved, and second, because Zombies give me nightmares. But guess what? I was so wrong about both. I've enjoyed this book so much. Maybe it's because I am fascinated by the dark side of human survival when faced with adversity. I'm not sure, but regardless I loved the story. The sex was hot, but the story was so strong it would have been able to stand up without it. Of course, I prefer with. I read pieces of this story again and again, savoring the words and visualizing Sophie Littlefield's post-apocalyptic world.
harstan More than 1 year ago
She is the first known human to survive an assault by the flesh eating beaters without converting into one of these zombie-like beasts. Although she remains mortal and alive, Cass Dollar suffered immensely during her ordeal and afterwards; she remained hurt with many scars on her battered body. Her lack of memory of her trauma frightens her, but not because of what the Beaters did to her. Her beloved daughter Ruthie is missing and Cass has no idea what happened to her cherished offspring. However, in spite of her agony, Cass has one objective and that is to find her missing daughter Ruthie lost somewhere in the biologically bombed California wasteland. Smoke an outlaw accompanies Cass on her quest while the militia, scientists and a female sect pursue her for diverse reasons. This is a terrific post apocalyptic science fiction thriller starring a beleaguered lioness with one obsessed thought: finding and rescuing her Ruthie. Courageous Cass is impressive as she remains resolute in her quest while musing she is in her "third" life. The harsh California landscape adds to the eerie atmospheric aftermath of the pandemic catastrophe as the heroine continues her trek. Mindful of the Charlton Heston science fiction films, Aftertime is a strong opening act with. Harriet Klausner
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The past was Before. The present is Aftertime. Once upon a time, monsters were the stuff of b-movies and campfire tales, and could safely be ignored. And ignore them I did. Last year, a slew of authors got me to believe enough in their science-based vampires to be frightened. It seems that this may be the year of the zombie for me. Not the Voodoo, risen from the dead, magical kind, but the scary, all-too-real, disease-transmitting kind. Sophie Littlefield¿s kind. Ms. Littlefield, it seems, doesn¿t want to be pigeonholed. Her latest novel, Aftertime, is a radical departure from anything we¿ve seen previously. The first-person narrator is Cass Dollar. Cass has awakened after an indeterminate period of time, badly wounded, in clothes she has never seen before. As she seeks to orient herself, so does the reader. We discover that Cass lives in the near future in Northern California . The details of what happened to Cass, and to the country, are somewhat sketchy, and sussing them out is part of the pleasure of the novel. (There are details, but I don¿t want to spoil them for you.) What is clear is that something led to a disease. Many of the old and young died outright. But surviving the initial fever was a far worse fate. It is the diseased survivors that have become zombie-like cannibals, predators, killers, and spreaders of disease. Cass awakens in a terrible state. She partially remembers being attacked, and given her appearance, it¿s hard to escape the conclusion that she was turned. Certainly, she has lost time. But far, far worse, she has lost her three-year-old daughter. Finding Ruthie is Cass¿s quest. The reader navigates this altered, post-apocalyptic landscape alongside her, and Cass¿s voyage of discovery becomes ours. In many cases, empathy with the central character will carry you through a book. I have to admit that I didn¿t really relate to Cass. I share neither of her most distinguishing and motivating characteristics: motherhood and addiction. Cass isn¿t a warm and fuzzy character. (I¿m pretty sure the warm and fuzzy have died off in this harsh world.) But I cared about her, and I cared about her quest. I was with her in horrified fascination every step of the way. Leading up to the startling final pages of this book, I thought to myself: All bets are off. I had no idea what Littlefield was going to do, up to and including kill off her narrator. She managed to pull off one of those great endings that made me feel completely satisfied as though the story had been told. And yet¿ I wondered. Has the whole story been told? Certainly, I¿m still curious about a lot of what went on Before. And while Cass¿s tale came to a satisfying conclusion without annoying hanging threads, it¿s a brave new world. There are surely more tales to be told. I was curious enough to make inquiries, and I learned that Aftertime is, in fact, the first of a trilogy. Excellent!
pollywannabook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyI¿m unabashedly obsessed with the new AMC show The Walking Dead about the zombie apocalypse and the few remaining human¿s struggle for survival. It¿s shocking, and heartbreaking, and so beyond words awesome that my love for zombies has reached an all new high. I can¿t get enough. Which is why I¿m geeking out of my mind after reading AFTERTIME because I felt almost the same way reading it as I do watching The Walking Dead: Captivated.The story follows Cass, a young mother and recovering addict, as she searches desperately for her daughter mere months after the mysterious infection set in and turned most of the population into ravenous, cannibalistic zombies. Her only companion is a reclusive man known simply as Smoke. He agrees for his own reasons to help Cass and together they brave a world that is barely recognizable anymore. Zombies carry off children to feast on in their nests, power hungry men seize what little society is left and begin Rebuilding it to suit themselves, cults thrive, oblivion is sought after by anyone sane enough to know what¿s happening on the streets each night. The horror is unimaginable. This is the world the Cass wakes up in. Alone and nearly skinned. Desperate to find her daughter, terrified of what she can¿t remember, and fiercely determined to survive. She¿s like Terminator¿s Sarah Connor and Downside Ghost¿s Chess Putnam rolled into one. A deeply damaged woman with a seedy drug and alcohol hazed past full of dark alleys and strange beds. She¿s clawed her way out of addiction and has only one care in the world: her daughter. The story is epic in scope. We get a real sense of the entire world ending and waking up to a nightmarish reality that few could have imagined. We never leave the POV of Cass, yet the people she encounters, both friend and foe, add their own piece to the Aftertime world. The dialogue in the first half of the book is understandably scant, but the story itself is startling and unputdownable from beginning to end.AFTERTIME is hands down the best zombie book I¿ve read all year. Hide your wife, hide your kids, and hide your husbands `cause they eating everybody out here. Seriously. No word on the sequel yet, but AFTERTIME is the start of a planned series. So please go buy this book when you can. I have to know what happens next.Sexual Content: Two graphic sex scenes
JamesterCK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My opinion: First off we meet Cass, who is wandering by herself alone. She has no recollection of what happened to her, but she has scars all over her body. A new plant species was introduced to the U.S. and by eating it, people developed a severe fever. If they survived that initial fever, they would slowly develop into what we would consider zombies; they are driven by the need to eat human flesh and only that. Cass knows she was attacked by these creatures, called Beaters, and she did get the disease for a while, but somehow her body fought it off. The attack happened two months previously and now Cass has no idea where her 3 year old daughter Ruthie is, but she knows she needs to find her. Due to the scars though, she knows it will be hard to prove to anyone that she isn't a Beater, so luckily she wanders across a young girl. The girl takes Cass back to the place where she's staying and is able to plead her case. There she meets a Smoke, a man who is determined to help keep people safe and help keep sort of an order. He agrees to take her to the Library where she lived with her daughter before she was taken, to see if by some miracle Ruthie is still there. Cass hates relying on other people, but she knows early on that she can trust Smoke. When they get to the Library, Cass is treated as a stranger. A woman she used to know there confides that if they know that she was attacked by Beaters, she will most likely be disposed of. She also learns that her daughter was bitten and developed a fever and signs of the disease too, but like Cass she recovered. But Ruthie is not there anymore, she has been sent to a place called the Convent where they believe their faith will cure anything (but to a lot of people it seems more like a cult). So Smoke accompanies Cass on her journey, and they find themselves growing closer and closer with each passing day. But Cass knows that her ultimate goal is to find her daughter, and she can't let anything distract her...not even the man who would give his life for her.I really, really liked this book. Cass was definitely tough; living in times like that would be hard enough, but not to know what happened to your child was be impossible. I really liked Smoke too, he was so confident and kept his morals even when the rest of the world was becoming almost barbaric. It was obvious he would do whatever he had to to keep Cass safe and help her in her mission. She held back from him a lot, because she was afraid that she could be a carrier for the disease and infect him somehow. Cass had a rough time growing up; her dad was suddenly gone, her mom remarried and her stepdad sexually molested her. Then she ended up becoming an alcoholic and sleeping with lots of different men. She got pregnant and still had trouble changing. Her mom took Ruthie and then Cass became obsessed with getting her child back. So she cleaned herself up, which is really admirable, but still her mom would not give Ruthie back to her. So when the disease started changing people and chaos erupted, she took Ruthie, and that's how they ended up at the Library. I think she constantly feels like she has to make up for the bad choices she made earlier in her life, make it up to Ruthie for not being there for her like she should have been the whole time. It's easy to believe that this is what the world would look like if something like this happened; it reminded me of a lot of the zombie movies I have seen, half of the U.S. was blocked off to contain the disease from spreading. It also reminded me of the game Fallout; while not the same premise, the outcome was much the same, groups of people forming their own societies with different rules and ideals and having to trade items for other items since money became worthless. It was a really good book, keeping you guessing on what will happen at the end and a lot of suspense. I look forward to reading more from this author!My rating: 4/5 stars
AlishaNeedsToRead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quick Take: This book had my pulse racing for much of the time I spent reading it. The lush visuals, the emotions, the mystery and (of course) the high chill-factor made this an absolutely wonderful read. I was so spooked and unnerved, but absolutely could not tear my eyes from the page.Review:So, this book has an official blurb and all, but really I think the story as a whole somewhat defies brief description. The best that one can do is to describe the beginning, which is intentionally disorienting; the protagonist herself can barely gather her wits about her enough to make coherent thoughts, and even has a chunk of time missing from her memory. What's immediately clear is that the world--at least from the protagonist's perspective--is different; something hugely substantial has happened, and the desolate landscape is almost unrecognizable.From the moment Cassie began describing her surroundings and checkered memories, I was hooked. She's a very emotionally (and physically!) damaged individual, and spend a lot of time thinking about her failings. Her main source of guilt is the fact that she does not know where the whereabouts two-year-old daughter, Ruthie. This in fact becomes the main driver of the story; Cassie will stop at nothing to find her child. Politics related to a post-apocalyptic environment? The fate of the world? Not the focus here; it's barely even addressed, actually. This book is all about the emotions, motivations, and perseverance of the main character. Most other characters are unimportant, save for the contributions they make to Cassie's journey; in this way, this book is very much an odyssey in the vain of...well, The Odyssey. ^_^What's also found in spades is horror. The imagery used in this book ranges from violent and gory to chilling and quietly moving. Yes, there are zombies here, called Beaters. Indeed, there is much flesh being rent from bones. ..and yes, it all freaked the living daylights out of me. I contemplated putting the book down in a fit of whimpiness, but found it was difficult to do so; Littlefield really manages to draw the reader in with her descriptions, even the intensely grotesque ones.The pacing of this book feels effortless; as in any good odyssey, there are moments of high-tension punctuated with some emotion and personal development. Cassie is sympathetic, and her internal struggles resonated easily. There is a romantic element in this book, though it by no means overtakes the story. I found that it was developed in a believable and understandable fashion; I appreciated that it wasn't overly sweet and dramatic, which might not have fit in with the tone and focus of the book.So. If you decide to read this book, what can you expect? You'll find a fair amount of gore, violence and human desperation. You'll also find a vast physical and emotional journey that is both touching and haunting. This book will be the first in a series, though I'm not clear on how many books there will be in total or whether it will continue its focus on Cassie. Regarding the latter, I sure hope she remains the protagonist; I'm hooked on her personal story and will gladly freak myself out on flesh-thirsty zombies to find out how she fares.
dasuzuki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So I don't know how I missed the fact that this was a zombie book even though when I re-read the synopsis it says it right there. I thought it was just a dystopian story so I was doubly happy to start this book since I love zombie books. Sophie Littlefield's take on zombies is the perfect balance between traditional zombies but also some unique traits that make her zombies stand out. If you are looking for zombies that are somehow sexy or a romance between a zombie and a regular person go look for a different book. I don't know where the idea of sexy zombies came from but I want my zombies shuffling and flesh eating. There are some points where it can get a bit squeamish as the characters describe exactly how the zombies attack people and tear at their flesh as well as some of the cannibalistic actions they perform on themselves.Cass can come across as a little harsh because of all she has had to overcome and has learned to depend only on herself but you get glimpses at her vulnerability as people like Smoke, a fellow survivor who is helping her to find her daughter, begin to get beyond the shell she's built around herself. Smoke has his own mysterious past that we only get glimpses of but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that I suppose will be revealed in a sequel. The fascinating part of this book though were the different groups that evolved after most of the population fell prey to the beaters or sickness. You have those that believe prayer can cure the beaters, those that take advantage of people's need to escape reality for a few hours and those that want to create a new world order.The story dragged a little but next thing you know the story starts zooming along and you are at the climax before you even realize it. I enjoyed this book but it didn't enthrall me so although there were enough unanswered questions to make me think there will be a second book I'm not sure I will read it.
23blue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Through this entire book I felt hope. Hope that our main character Cass would find her daughter, hope that there was some way the world would survive, and hope that there was somewhere safe. Despite the horrors of the world of this story I wanted her to make it and for there to be a chance at something more. This story does get resolved but is left open enough for her to write another which I would certainly read. Even through all the bad things people are banding together and making things work. A few twists take place with Cass being taken and recovering, scared but still recovering, the goofy my way or the highway reunification guys, the religious cult, the compound of safety and vice. One of the things I liked about this book was the ability of people to clear out an area and make it safer.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The "romance" between Smoke (stupid name for a grown man - just because the world has gone to hell doesn't mean people would be taking on silly nicknames) and Cass is stretching it - 24 hours in and she's smitten with him? Yeah, whatever...Anyway, for the first 1/3 of the book, in the back of my mind, I was thinking "finally, a post-apocalypse story that doesn't have the women being herded for rape or the men creating gangs and shooting everyone who's not in theirs". Then we see the development of the "cliques" (no, none of them are original - the "militants", the "sinners", the "religious", the "hermits") but at least none of it devolved into the post-apocalyse serial rape "farms".As another reviewer suggested: this story is not as much about an apocalypse but more like the redemption of a woman, set in an apocalyptic environment. I liked the apocalypse - the origins, the response, the solution... it was all very believable and realistic. Even the zombies struck me as believable, for the most part (I'm still not sure why they are super fast).I did not relate to Cass on any level (and this is the main reason why this book only gets 3 stars) - there was some sense that her deep desire to find her daughter was more related to her addiction (and her need to redeem herself from it) than because she wanted to find her daughter. I see now that this novel is a Harlequin production, which means the personal redemption thread, and the quick romance, and Cass's sexual background make MUCH more sense now. As long as you keep in mind that this book isn't trying to tell you about surviving the apocalypse as much as it's trying to tell you about a woman's survival and redemption, you should like it. Oh, and there is no supernatural root to any of it - it's all a manmade tragedy.
ElizabethJH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a thrilling and haunting read! I loved the world descriptions, and really thought the idea of blueleaf was very fascinating and original. The talk and stories of the beaters left me on the edge of my seat as well as finding out what happened to Cass. The ending is what sealed a 5 star rating opposed to 4 stars for me. The ending was very shocking and suspenseful and wrapped this book up nicely as well as leaving the reading wondering....what will happen next?
tlm0000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very excited when I found out I would receive this book to review. The book didn't materialize when it was supposed to and I guess that should have been a sign. Two things will peak my interest; Zombies & End of Civilization books. This book has them both. The story line is interesting, the characters could be interesting, but they're not. The main character spends so much time remembering things that the story at times seems to move backwards instead of forwards. I understand the reason, filling in the back story, but I do not appreciate the way it is done.I did not like the pace of this book nor did I find any character to latch on to.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Sophie Littlefield's YA thriller Banished, I thought it only made sense to check out her new adult post-apocalyptic series, Aftertime. Though a far cry from Banished, Aftertime offered a new adventure for readers to enjoy filled with emotion, redemption, family and even zombies...Cass lived through the apocalypse, only to wake up in a devastated California filled with zombies and without her daughter, Ruthie. Without any knowledge of what's going on, Cass sets out to find her daughter, and ends up finding Smoke, a man who dares to trust Cass, and maybe even to love her. As Cass journeys through the new world, she finds that things aren't way they were before.Aftertime is a heavy-handed read filled with emotion and even more redemption for our main character. Probably the best thing the story has going for it is that it's more original than most post-apocalyptic novels out there I've read, with a realistic and honest plot that's still possible to relate to, despite the grim, dark future. However, I'll admit that at times the plot felt a little angsty, put the overall originality of the plot was worthwhile.Cass is also an honest character that I found myself rooting for. While she annoyed me at points, I grew into her story and wanted her to succeed in her quest -and even get the guy in the end. While I wouldn't say that this the best novel I've read in the genre, it's good for something different, and a quick read.
MargK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When the world falls apart and all you've ever known is taken away--your life turned upside down--how will you survive?How will you adapt?Will you change, and if so, who will you choose to become?What beliefs will you hold on to?What will you be willing to fight for?Will you lead or will you follow?These are the questions that I look for in dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. It is the exploration of human nature & behavior that fascinates me.One of the strongest of all animal instincts is the drive to survive. Unlike with other animals, however, the human struggle for survival is far more complex than just a hardwired fight or flight response. People are capable of awe-inspiring feats of bravery & ingenuity in the face of danger. They can be confronted with insurmountable odds and still refuse to give up. Some can even challenge that biological instinct for self-preservation and risk their own lives in order to protect, help, or save others. On the flip side, people are also capable of horrific acts of selfishness & brutality in order to preserve their own well-being. Some people will cheat, lie, steal, and kill--do whatever it takes, no mater who it hurts--so that they may live & prosper.Then there are those who choose to survive through blind acceptance of a path set forth by others who assume leadership & control. They accept & adapt to whatever social structures, conditions, rules, and expectations are set before them no matter how unfair or outright wrong they may be. They do so because they don't feel that they have the strength to survive on their own. They do so because they are afraid to challenge the status quo. Thus, they adapt to things like militant law, unjust persecution/punishment, segregation, and oppression.Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield addresses all of this and much more without any reservation. It does so by taking the reader on a fast-paced, action-packed journey through the eyes of a mother determined to be reunited with her daughter at whatever the cost.The story of Aftertime takes place in an unspecified near-future (probably about a couple of decades from now) in which international conflict between nations has reached a fever-pitch and bioterrorism has run rampant. With advancement in technology, biological weapons have been designed to attack livestock & vegetation with deadly precision. Consequently, widespread starvation forces scientists to artificially create a dietary substitute called K7 (kaysev)--a plant that is composed of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Not long after crops of it are established, however, a new variety referred to as blueleaf starts to grow. As it turns out, when ingested, blueleaf causes a disease marked by delirium & high fever. Many die from the fever alone, but those that survive enter into the next stage of the disease. This stage results in gradual loss of almost all cognitive ability, fixed pinpoint pupils, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. The infected slowly turn into zombie-like creatures called Beaters and spread the infection through their saliva.Be forewarned, Aftertime is not a light read by any means. It is not for everyone; it's certainly not for the faint of heart. There is some heavy stuff dealt with in this book and some very graphic imagery. And both the very best and the very worst of humanity is put on display.With that said, I will admit that I completely, unexpectedly fell in love with this book. Here are three most significant reasons why: (1) it made me think, (2) it made me experience a gamut of emotions, and (3) it gave me goosebumps.Need more reasons? Okay, here we go.I loved Cass. She was such a damaged, complicated, multilayered character and the epitome of a fighter. She reminded me of why I have such a deep respect & admiration for mothers. In fact, her unwavering determination and unmeasurable love for her daughter reminded me of my own mother. The combination of inner strength
C.Ibarra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, wow, wow! After reading numerous young adult dystopian tales, it was refreshing to read about survival in a post-apocalyptic world from an adult's point of view. Cassandra Dollar wakes up with injuries consistent to those usually inflicted by the Beaters (AKA flesh eating zombies) that are roaming the world since a government mission gone wrong. She vaguely remembers being attacked, but knows people can't recover from the infection that ravages the body after coming in contact with an infected's saliva. At least until now she had thought it impossible. Quickly the desire to reunite with her young daughter, Ruthie, sets Cass into motion and on a long and difficult journey. The need to know her baby girl is safe is the force pushing and driving Cass to continue even when the outlook looks hopeless. She finds an ally in a man named, Smoke, who puts his faith in Cass, even though she doesn't feel she deserves it. Together they search for Ruthie in a world defined by Before and After, and discover along the way that the Beaters aren't the only threat to humanity. Cass is one of the most damaged heroines I've ever met. She has suffered a difficult life littered with addiction and abuse, but not once does her maternal instinct falter. That is what made me love her. She is an amazing woman who I felt a connection to almost immediately. This book is gritty and violent. I was concerned during the first chapter that the gruesome and gory details would be too much for me to continue, but Cass makes you want to keep reading. The author's writing teamed with a fast paced plot, and relatable characters made is painfully difficult to put Aftertime down once I started reading. The romantic elements involving Cass and Smoke, was a nice addition to the plot. I like that the author incorporated tender, and sometimes not so tender, moments between the two without detracting from the action and survival that I've come to expect from dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels. Smoke is a man with so many layers, and I think we only saw a brief glimpse of who he is (and why) over the course of Aftertime. As far as Smoke is concerned, chivalry is not dead in Aftertime. He is always ready to sacrfice himself for the greater good. He is one of those men who is difficult not to love. I hope we'll learn more about what he is hiding, and his life Before. All around this is just a great read. Not for the faint of heart as the author touches on sensitive topics and doesn't spare readers the gruesome details. This is a book that will take root in your head and leave you pining for more. I'm eager to read more from the talented author!
nanajlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WOW WOW WOW. I can't wait for more! Through some snafu, I received Aftertime and the sequel Rebirth for review and I'm so glad I did. Both books are amazing reads, with rich descriptions of struggle in a post-apocalyptic world. Aftertime follows Cass as she struggles with her self, her alcoholism, her past abuse, and her sexual proclivities. Add to the mix the implosion of society and a mutant genetically engineered plant that turns people into flesh-eating zombies, and most people would willingly give up the fight. Cass is stronger than that, she lives for the chance to re-rescue her daughter and provide a better childhood than the one she had for herself. Along the way, Cass encounters Smoke, who is willing to help her on her journey, for no other reason than he is a good man. Finally finding acceptance from someone without an ulterior motive, Cass fights the zombies, the cult, and the criminals. Wow what a heroine.
Stephy5g on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Exciting, rush of a read. This book keeps hooked until the end. You follow the characters through a journey of addiction and abuse to finally finding what she needs to make a her life right for her. The author uses great details to leaving little to the imagination but keep you coming back for more.
dgoo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aftertime was an engaging and exciting read with a strong and very flawed female heroine, a compelling story and, somewhat surprisingly for a post-apocalyptic novel with zombies, beautiful prose. I haven't read a book involving zombie like creatures before, but this story did not follow the path of zombie storylines that I think most people would be familiar with. The story was frightening, often chilling, with it's post eco, bio and energy terrorism world, one that didn't seem too far fetched given our current global political, bioengineering, and GMO climate. Highly recommended to science fiction or future dystopia fans.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Powerful characterization of a haunted, former alcoholic heroine whose one obsession is finding her little daughter in the messed up world of a near future California, post-bioterrorist attacks. She wakes up in a field after several weeks of memory blackout, during which she was a zombie, as the terrible scars on her back prove. She seems to be the first person to ever recover from the disease, which is pretty horrifically described. I will spare you all, but it's the stuff of nightmares. It seems to be caused by eating a fairly poisonous plant, a highly nutritious biologically engineered plant's hybrid cousin which causes euphoria but then turns people into flesh eating vicious zombies. Oh, you government and your unintended consequences. They also seem to be contagious zombies. Not quite following the science there, but the main concern is whether Cass wil survive and find her daughter amidst the wasteland of a dystopian, zombie filled California. Pretty good stuff.
mbg0312 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I kind of skimmed this one on my Android phone, but I regret not paying more attention to it. I'll probably re-read it at some later date, and I'm going to pick up her other novels - A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty. I quite enjoyed what I read, but I think I needed the dead-tree version to pay maximum attention. I'm definitely looking for more of her stuff.
Nikk1s on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The characters are so complex, and I became emotionally invested very early on. Cass is so complicated and interesting. She is strong and capable but broken and on a journey for peace in a world of chaos. You want her to succeed and to keep fighting. The characters are always moving to stay alive and so the action of the story keeps pace realisticaly. This story is dark and somber and the ending is hopeful but not in the traditional way of happy endings. This has become one of my favorites and I highly recommend to anyone looking for something new.