Friday, 26 September 2014

After- Anna Todd BLOG TOUR

This is a weird one for me to be writing about as it feels very close to home!  I'm friends with a lot of the other bloggers on the UK tour for After, but I don't think they were familiar with it until The Hot Bed, Simon and Schuster's raunchy side, started promoting it.  Whereas I knew all about After. 
If you've read my blog before, you'll have seen me talking of my love for One Direction-maybe even the 'celebrity crush' promo video for a book earlier in the year, where I'm holding a picture of Louis and the drool is almost visible.  That's the small scale side of the obsession.  Here comes the full on confession.  I saw them four times this summer-twice as VIP (absolutely amazing.  Niall did the Better than Words thrust practically IN MY FACE).  I went to support Louis and Niall in their charity games.  I've been tweeted by Anne, Ruth and Dan, and DMed by Keith.  Liam's car nearly ran me and my friend Svenja over at 1am on his way back from a late night trip to KFC to beat the munchies.  And I actually met Dan and nearly died with excitement (I'm a huge Dangirl Fangirl. Gotta love someone who strums that well.  Ahem).  
Basically, I'm just sharing a few credentials here so people who find my blog via Anna know I'm not a carrot ;) 

Any excuse to relive the 'meeting Dan' moment, even though my hair did look exceptionally shit that day
And if none of that made any sense to you, you're obviously one of the bookish visitors not a Directioner...
If you know me then you'll know I unashamedly read/write/champion fanfiction.  And One Direction fanfiction is my area of expertise.  I've read it all-the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright weird.
Anna Todd is the most well known writer of fanfic in our fandom.  She has an absolute 'Anna Army' clamouring for updates and there are people who've had 'Hessa' tattoos, make endless manips and are probably as obsessed with 'After Harry' (who has been renamed as Hardin for the print version) as they are with Harry himself.  And because Anna is so bloody lovely, answering hundreds of fans tweets daily, running an online reading group and aiming to meet as many fans as she can in person, it has grown, and grown, and grown.  It's like an After snowball running away down a hill, building up speed and bundling up new readers with each update.
I'll be honest.  I resisted After for a long time, partly because of the hype.  And also, I seriously struggle with any serialised fiction because I am the most impatient human on the entire planet, and waiting for updates on fanfics I read nigh on kills me.  It was only when I started interacting with Anna on twitter that I finally started reading it, but when that happened I was hooked.
This is quite a rambly opening for a blog post, I admit.  But I couldn't launch straight into a review without a bit of background, because it is the background which has brought us to this point-where After is on the verge of release to an unsuspecting public.  Fans will be slightly reluctant to share, because Hessa is part of our fandom and we are a very tight, loyal bunch (best fans in the world, eh Nialler?).  Yet in saying that, I think everyone that's enjoyed After on Wattpad will be thrilled for Anna and the success she is having. 
She's one of us, afterall. 
The Blurb
Anna Todd's After fan fiction racked up 1 billion reads online and captivated readers across the globe. Experience the Internet's most talked-about book, now newly revised and expanded, for yourself! There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there's everything AFTER...Life will never be the same. #Hessa
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 undeniably hot! 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. He'll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again.
Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin's prejudice about nice girls like her? Unless...could this be love?
The Review 
Here goes nothing... This is literally one of the most scary reviews I have ever had to write!
But before I start, I need to get the negative out of the way- I really don't like the name change to Hardin.  I understand why it had to be altered, but Hardin just sounds so unBritish. I did kind of get used to it after a while, and for anyone coming to After for the first time it wouldn't be an issue at all.  I guess he'll just always be Harry to me *shrugs*  The other major name changes are Liam/Landon, Louis/Logan, Niall/Nate, Zayn/Zed- I actually really like the last one, but the others not so much.  They're only names though, and I can get over that.
For those who don't know, the story itself is in classic New Adult frenemies territory- preppy girl (Tessa) goes off to college leaving her reliable-yet-unexciting boyfriend (Noah) back in her hometown.  Finding herself thrown into a group of alternative types with tattoos and piercings, Tessa wonders where she fits in.  It's her roommate Steph who really opens Tessa's eyes to how appearances can be deceptive, and I love her.  She's a strong female with a real sense of her own identity and is a good friend to Tessa-she's got that rebellious streak but a good heart.  I'd love a friend like her.
Hardin is a bit more complex.  He's troubled, and broody and at times downright rude.  But he's also sexy as hell and has a reputation for being pretty darn amazing in bed. Oh, and he likes reading the classics.  Which all in all makes for a lethal and undeniably attractive character.  In real life I look for devotion and honesty, but in fiction I like my men with a bit of attitude and Hardin has that in bundles. 
Hardin was physically based on this beautiful man. What's not to love?
Of course, I'm not giving anything away if I let slip Tessa and Hardin become 'involved'.  It's messy and toxic with some steamy sex thrown in for good measure, but mostly their story is of fraught arguments and a power struggle. 
This is where some people find After hard. 
Both Tessa and Hardin can be selfish, both Tessa and Hardin are stubborn.  There is a lot of game playing between them where they seemingly testing each other. Tessa does this through meddling in Hardin's fractured family life, whereas Hardin closes off, uses sex to control Tessa and for large parts of the book is pretty awful.  There are people who have said After glamorises abusive relationships and that it shouldn't be released, especially when teen girls are reading it.  Two points on this from me.  Firstly, I don't think it does.  Tessa goes into the relationship with her eyes wide open and builds enough confidence to leave if she so wished.  And After has always been more about infatuation than straightforward love.  Secondly, those who say 'teens shouldn't read after because it gives an unhealthy view of relationships'- would you let teens read Jane Eyre?  Because having a wife locked in an attic isn't really healthy either, but I don't think Bronte was advocating it just because she used it as a plot device...
The editing has definitely improved the quality of the writing.  Wattpad is a fabulous place to get down ideas but Anna and her editors have really added to the style and substance of the book.  It is really, really readable- one of those books where you settle down to read a few pages and BAM- half your day is gone because you have been suckered in.  Put simply, if you're a fan of new adult fiction, then you have got to read After
Overall, I am really, really proud to 'know' Anna.  She built up from writing updates on her phone to a publishing deal and the After series is going to be a huge global phenomenon, even moreso than it already is.  I'm glad to have found Hardin and Tessa before the explosion which is coming.  And although it makes me a bit sad to say it, it's time for the fandom to share Hessa *sob*

And I am EXCEPTIONALLY fortunate to have a little video snippet of the gorgeous Anna that she made exclusively for Books with Bunny (see, told you she was lovely) thanking everyone for their support.  Mwah. xxx

 1D fanfic lovers, you can find me on Wattpad here .

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