Editors: Datlow, Ellen and Terri Windling
Review Issue Date: December 1, 2012
Any librarian who has been asked for books just like The Hunger Games will appreciate how this collection of short stories will satiate readers hungry for tales of futuristic woe. As the title implies, these stories do not describe the (political, environmental, socioeconomic) disasters but instead describe events post-apocalypse, what life is like afterward. The variety of tales and writing styles is wide. Cecil Castellucci offers a story where cities have vanished and knowledge of science is lost, but society somehow still runs via strict rules about cross-breeding. Jeffrey Ford presents a coming-of-age tale where becoming an adult means getting your own firearm. Not that far-fetched, but when it is law that everyone must be armed, and when teachers joke around by aiming their handguns at students who misbehave in class, things can get dicey fast. Genevieve Valentine presents a tale where the media manipulates survivors for the government, staging wars, family reunions, and touching scenes of bravery and hope. The actors in these mini-movies best remain anonymous because terrible things could happen if the public finds out about them.
The sixteen other tales cover everything from lycanthropy and mutation to the lengths one would go to find lost family members. These are good, smart, well-written science fiction pieces. They throw readers into the tale, and they must figure out things from context as they read. Teens seeking a dystopian fix, as well fans of science fiction, will be well pleased by this book.—Geri Diorio.
For any lover of dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature, After is a must-read. The disasters in the collection are incredibly varied and creative. Despite the bleak premise, the stories do not all strike a gloomy tone; the authors capture many emotions, ranging from poignant to comical; from stirring to chilling. Even given the short length of each piece, the characters are all very easy to get attached to. Each story will leave readers craving more of the author’s work. 5Q, 4P.—Holly Storm, Teen Reviewer.