After Series by Anna Todd (Review)

After my holiday to the Dominican Republic last year, my long term goal of the year for reading 12 books grew closer to being successfully reached. I ended up borrowing a series from a friend, who’s read far beyond anything I could personally imagine, with over 150 books last year alone! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this series. 

I have personally watched all the films as they have come out and really enjoyed them, despite the somewhat cringe-y acting. I love the romance and the draw of the characters, despite the love interests not being perfect. It reminds me of the reality of relationships.

Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way. But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to. But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before. 
Tessa has everything to lose. Hardin has nothing to lose… except her. After a tumultuous beginning to their relationship, Tessa and Hardin were on the path to making things work. Tessa knew Hardin could be cruel, but when a bombshell revelation is dropped about the origins of their relationship—and Hardin’s mysterious past—Tessa is beside herself. Hardin will always be… Hardin. But is he really the deep, thoughtful guy Tessa fell madly in love with despite his angry exterior—or has he been a stranger all along? She wishes she could walk away. It’s just not that easy. Not with the memory of passionate nights spent in his arms. His electric touch. His hungry kisses.
Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about first her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim. Tessa’s life begins to come unglued. Nothing is what she thought it was. Not her friends. Not her family. The one person she should be able to rely on, Hardin, is furious when he discovers the massive secret she’s been keeping. And rather than being understanding, he turns to sabotage.
It's never been all rainbows and sunshine for Tessa and Hardin, but each new challenge they've faced has only made their passionate bond stronger and stronger. But when a revelation about the past shakes Hardin's inpenetrable facade to the core-and then Tessa suffers a tragedy-will they stick together again, or be torn apart? As the shocking truth about each of their families emerges, it's clear the two lovers are not so different from each other. 

It's difficult to review a singular book in the series without the full review of the entire series. Each book follows very much on from the previous, with little time passing between. I struggle to remember the events in each separate book as it feels like one giant one. Not only that, but whilst the context varies a little, the events are repetitive and similar throughout the giant book series. 

To a certain extent, I do struggle a little with some of the storylines present. It brings about the topics of cheating and toxic abusive relationships. Whilst they do slowly come to a peak and improve, it never feels as though the author stresses how wrong these are and never puts support in place for the characters to seek help should it be needed. The relationships explored have only word to describe them...toxic. Yet still, you can't help put love this couple. You can't help but see that whilst the damage is extreme, real relationships have problems and they aren't picture perfect. 

Funnily enough, I never knew the history behind the story but it started apparently as Harry Style fan diction on WatPad. It's an interesting premise although I can't picture Hardin as Harry in the slightest. It does however make the books make sense. They are incredibly long novels, and slightly repetitive, but of course they began with releases chapter-by-chapter with no editing. 

Ultimately, the story shares a real love story, filled with ups and downs. It teaches that a person can changes and if they wanted to, they would. It's about sacrifice and forgiveness. With many questions still left unannounced, the emotional whirlwind this series takes you through is wild. It's not the most well written, nor will it go down as literary genius, but it's easy-reading and fast-paced. It leaves you wanting more always. 

Hardin and Tessa's dramatic love affair became a vortex pulling in everyone around them. For the first time these others are given voice as they appear before, during, and after the events in original After novels. Alongside them, Hardin's account of his first encounters with Tessa -- which will change what you thought you knew about the brooding boy and the angel who loved him.

The last book is the one book with a difference. Instead of the two sharing their lives side-by-side, it tells the story of Hardin prior to Tessa and gives some background to the story. I actually didn't love this book. I found it quite difficult to get into, after the change of pace and change of writing voice. Whilst it gives the context of what made Hardin, Hardin, it is quite boring and I struggled to slowly finish the book sadly.