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Rebirth (An Aftertime Novel) Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2013
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"Evocative, sensual, harrowing." -Publishers Weekly on Aftertime, 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, Barnes and Noble Book Club
"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
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.
Top customer reviews
I love this series, I love it. I plan on re-reading it soon and am jonesing for the release of #3 in 2012. This book made me cry, made me laugh -- and made me stay up late reading. I felt Cassie's pain and her anger. Sophie Littlefield is an amazing author who tells an amazing tale.
The setting for this story is in post-apocalyptic California, post the bio destruction of the land during wars, post the collapse of the government, and post the rise of a zombie type creature that was created by bio-engineering to plants - it is After and everything that came prior to these events was Before. In Aftertime, there is no government, no infrastructure and everyday is a fight for survival. So that is the backdrop for the story - running from zombie like creatures, trying to find food, groups vying for power, true evilness coming out in humans that are no longer held back by societal rules, and attempts at creating a new civilization. All the good and fun parts of post-apocalyptic stories. But for me, the true story is one of self discovery and growth. The main character is Cassie. We learn in Aftertime (book #1 in this series), that Cassie is a recovering alcoholic, she is a woman who learned to survive and use her body early on in her life and thus thinks that much of her power lies in her sexuality, and she is a mother of a very young child. Cassie is desperately trying to create a life where her daughter, Ruthie, can survive and she is in love with a man, Smoke, that she hooked up with in Aftertime. But Smoke leaves on an expedition, which means there is no guarantee that Cassie will ever see him again. Dror, a man who is a leader in the community Cassie is surviving in, must head out on his own expedition and Cassie decides her and her daughter need to go with him if they are ever going to survive and find a safe place to live --- and Cassie hopes to find Smoke again. This story is a quest, Cassie, Dror and Ruthie traveling the now dangerous highways of California, trying to find refuge in abandoned homes, and fighting other survivalists along the way. The entire time Cassie is protecting her daughter Ruthie, mourning the absence of Smoke, and attempting to hope that Dror feels committed to her and Ruthie enough that he will continue to protect them.
Cassie's past is not pretty and she often remembers what she was like when she was an alcoholic, when she would go home with man after man in her alcoholic stupor, or the abuse she sustained as a child from her mom and step-dad, but despite the unattractiveness of her past Cassie is determined to make a change in her future. She is very concerned about those around her and she is leader. Sophie Littlefield is a very brave author, she allows her story to go places many authors are afraid to go. I was really impressed with the scenes between Cassie and Dror. First off, the scenes were incredibly hot. Maybe the hottest I have read in any book. Second, Cassie was in pain and reverting back to how she quieted her emotions and those around her when she was an alcoholic - Ms. Littlefield didn't take the easy way out, she brought Cassie's past to the forefront. Cassie believes all of her power lies in her body and sexuality and she believes she was manipulating Dror. What she doesn't know is that Dror cares deeply for her. This is not an easy topic to address, Cassie is in a relationship with a man she loves and a man to whom Dror is friends with - but who left her to go on an expedition. Cassie is a mom of a young child, yet she goes out in to dangerous territory seeking safety instead of waiting for death to come to her. I have read some reviews criticizing the "infidelity" or the fact that Cassie doesn't follow sexual rules of conduct. I have also read reviews criticizing the fact that Cassie brings her daughter on this dangerous quest. Well, this setting of this book is not present day California where Cassie could just hide out with her daughter and wait for the cavalry to come. She is in a situation where she has to be proactive and find something safe and good. She knows the man she loves in likely in danger and she does not know day to day if she will survive. Add on to that, this man left her without even saying good-bye. Cassie does not even know if he still wants her or loves her. People in very stressful situations do not always do the most socially appropriate things and I applaud Ms. Sophie Littlefield for allowing the story to naturally go where she wrote it.
A significant character in the aftertime books is Ruthie - Cassie's almost 3 year old daughter. Rarely are kids included in adult books of this genre and if they are - they are usually put there to pull on the emotional heart strings of the reader (e.g. The Passage by Justin Cronin). Ruthie definitely does some heartstring pulling, but she is not just a throw in. The fact of her existence reshaped who Cassie is and every step Cassie takes is tempered or governed by Ruthie's needs. During Aftertime I was very stressed about Ruthie and that does not change in Rebirth, but Ruthie has started to add to the story and she is an important character.
Okay, so lest you think this entire book was emotional and questing stuff - it wasn't. The last third of this book is action packed and tense. It is full good guys, bad guys and gray areas - fighting, interrogation and escape scenes. It has horror filled gore scenes with zombies eating people, lots of fun stuff! If I had any nails, they would have all been bitten off during the last 1/3 of the book. The first ½ to 2/3 of this book does have less action than Aftertime, however it is important to the story and I really loved all of it. I like Cassie, I like the characters and I love the story being told.
I cannot wait for book #3.
I must admit that my annoyance was mostly surrounding Cass & her reasoning to leave the Box... **SPOILER ALERT** WITH her child! I'm not a mother, but this seemed like a patently bad idea. Especially since the point is made that Cass only decided the place was no longer worthwhile after Smoke departed. Really, Cass? Ruthie didn't need to grow up around other children & have better until your man hit the road on a quest for revenge? It was all good until he left & then it was untenable? Whatevs. Now, as a character action, I was annoyed but from a storytelling POV, I took this as the way to get her out of the Box & on to Rebuilder world in Colima with Dor. I can live with it. I found her repeated use of Ruthie as her touchstone when presented with moments of peril & general crazy felt less solid than her plight in book 1. Afterall, for all Cass's "woe is me" Ruthie was brought into the present crisis directly by Cass's actions & decisions.
And then there's Dor. Honestly, I was not invested in Dor (this is where I confess boredom) & could never deeply connect with his character because I was still invested in Smoke's story (yes, I had suspected what his secret was tied to in Aftertime Book 1), so I wanted to get on to that. Also, I felt allegiance to Smoke & his plight & didn't much care for Cass seeking to hookup with Dor, not 48 hours after Smoke left the Box. Especially since for Cass she was bent on self-loathing, anger & usury. Her being angry over Nora (Smoke's long cast aside now dead ex) was made even more hollow for me after that. She yammered on & on about being betrayed but she displayed little to no loyalty & allegiance to anyone but herself, so it came off as narcissism & got very old, very quickly. Cass wallowed good & deep in her self-pity & bitterness & while I was interested in where this was all going, I found that often, I was losing patience with her being so all over the place. As a character she made me straddle the fine line between "I'm repulsed but I still care about you" & "I don't even care what your problems & issues or how damaged you are! Get yourself sorted!" I've walked this road with Kara Thrace of BSG & she was one of my favorite characters of all time, so I hung in with Cass. I believe in complex redemption. I won't know until the end of book 3 if Cass delivers, but I'm going to see it through.
I also have to admit that I wasn't very fond of the use of Ruthie as mute-but-prescient & able to dispense premonitions in toddler vernacular when sleep dazed. I thought having her mute was useful because being on the road with a toddler while trying to hide from Beaters & human threats is a lot more risky with a toddler you can't guarantee to be quiet. I was willing to let that bit go as a reader. But also a mono-syllabic clairvoyant? I'm sorry, I call shenanigans.
I want to say that I had enough energy & interest in Sammi & her plight but Cass took up just about all my energy, so I can't. It was interesting but I can't say I would have missed Sammi specifically if she weren't here. That part of the story could just as easily have been told through some other random girl & kinda was as it was picked up in a new character to take us into book 3.
I'm no fan of "love" triangles (I tend to believe that true love is not fickle, so easily waning & certainly not a group sport), so I won't pass judgment on the one offered here (I can't even recognize one of the angles here as anything resembling love). I tend to feel they're trite in general & never compliment the players/characters but only serve as a device that's often not expertly executed & make everyone involved a little less interesting & little more unlikable. The one here may be well executed if that's your thing but I am one to resist them on site, so I reserve objective opinion.
Honestly, & this isn't a slam to the story told in this book, I think I could have skipped this one & gone straight to the last & been perfectly happy. I won't reveal the exciting bits in the last half of the story but I will say it does not disappoint & made a great case for this installment & reading the final installment.
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