I’ve spent $132.75 on the After franchise, so Lord help me

by smithstandard

I am a 30-year-old woman OBSESSED with an adult romance book series. #noshame.

Well, maybe a little bit of a shame. I can’t deny that my level of infatuation and interest in Anna Todd’s book series After might be slightly unhealthy. It was also completely unexpected. I had seen trailers for the movie adaptation of it ages ago and never batted an eyelid, and I never knew there was an entire book series which was a worldwide phenomenon. I was completely oblivious.

I kind of wish I still was oblivious.

Not because I didn’t fucking love the book, but because of my aforementioned obsession with the story.

I picked up the first book off the shelf in Target before my recent trip to Cambodia. I figured I could use another contemporary romance to enjoy on the flight there and when I got some downtime. Turns out, I devoured nearly the entire thing in a matter of days and quickly learned it was much more ‘adult’ than I initially thought it would be, being that it was about two people in college.

When I say it’s adult, I mean, it’s very explicit. There are sex-scenes/touching scenes every couple of chapters and these moments are described in detail. I have #noshame once again in admitting that I was here for it. Those scenes made me melt and I would like to personally thank Anna Todd for sharing her stories via that self-publishing app four years ago, because you gave me another Twilight, another love story to be obsessed with.

Admittedly, the storyline itself, is not anything brand new.

To quote my partner when I told him what was happening he said: “This sounds like the shittest storyline. Why are they playing truth or dare?” But don’t listen to him. Even though I guessed what was happening from the start – it didn’t matter. I know the storyline was kind of predictable, but the lead character Hardin Scott (WHO IS EVERYONE’S DREAM FICTIONAL CHARACTER) was ridiculously addictive, and I think that’s what I loved the most. And Anna Todd knows how to write a book that’s filled with shit the reader’s actually want – lots of dialogue and minimal boring description. #praiseanna

I can’t talk about this book and not mention the obvious: emotionally abusive undercurrents.

If you’re anything like everybody at the moment, I suspect you’ll probably analyse the book and notice there are some underlying hints of abusive behaviour from Hardin Scott. That perhaps the leads Hardin and Tessa are in an emotionally abusive relationship, that the cycle of them fighting and making up is exhausting etc. Sure. Sure. I get it. But in a world where we analyse EVERYTHING I implore you to just take this story as it is – as a fictional romance. Do your best to not tear it to shreds. It doesn’t mean you’re anti-feminist for loving this story and I will fight anyone who tries to start me on this.

I also have some additional confessions to make.

Whilst sitting on a balcony drinking beer and people-watching in Vietnam a few days ago (humble brag no big deal), I PURCHASED the rest of the books in the series via The Book Depository. Didn’t care, just clicked all of the books and bought them. And I cannot wait for them to arrive. *Note: If you have read all of the books: PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS DURING OR AT THE END OF THE SERIES OR I WILL CUT YOU. Ahem.

After I got click happy, I THEN realised the After movie was on Netflix.

It wasn’t available in the Cambodian Netflix zone, but when we arrived in Vietnam, it popped up. So naturally, I downloaded it for the flight home, so I could compare it to the book. A risky game, but after watching a couple of snippets on YouTube, I thought I might like it.

Look, we all know movie adaptations are never as good as the book. Time constraints, dialogue on paper vs dialogue in real life doesn’t always work etc. but people make do with what they can. I was told by a few people that the movie was pretty average, so I kept my expectations low – and that worked out for me.

I bloody loved it.

I soaked it all in like a teenage girl on the flight home and while it was kind of corny in parts, I still really enjoyed it. I do wonder whether I’d like it just as much if I hadn’t read the book … I think because I knew what was happening as it unravelled, that I was okay with how quickly things came together. Watching the movie without the book may be a different experience, so keep that in mind if you’re going straight for the film.

Also note: The movie is much more wholesome and romantic than the book (I think). And rightly so. They couldn’t make a movie based scene for scene on the first book – it would be way too confusing and graphic, not to mention emotionally draining. I would also like to add that I think the Hardin Scott in the movie is so beautiful. He’s a 21-year-old dude and I am here for him. Way nicer than book Hardin, so do yourself a favour and treat yourself to his face.

LOOK AT HIS FACE.

Additional confession time – yes, it gets worse.

When we landed in Australia, I realised After wasn’t available on Netflix here. And I was not happy. So guess what I did? Yep. I bought it. I PURCHASED A MOVIE I HAD ALREADY SEEN, so I could have it on standby. I think I was delirious with exhaustion. Honestly, obsessed. Lord knows how much money I’ve spent on this entire thing ($132.75 to be exact, but who’s counting).

Honestly, I think the reason I got so obsessed, was that I wished I could write as well as this woman.

And with absolutely no disrespect to Anna Todd, this style of writing is incredibly simple. It’s how I like to write, what I love to read and seeing someone do it so effortlessly was both refreshing and intimidating. I can only hope I produce something that resonates with readers as well as this did one day. If you take anything away from this other than the fact that I am crazy and there is something fundamentally wrong with me right now (I blame my heightened emotions from my recent trip), do yourself a favour – give the After world a crack (book number one, then movie).

Han x

P.S. They’ve just finished filming the sequel and I am legit fan-girling for it to come out. My heart can’t take it.

I mean, just look at the two of them. Seriously.

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