Published 2011 360 pages
Summary (from the publisher)
Destiny awaits Bianca and Lucas…
Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transforms Bianca into a wraith but also turns Lucas into a vampire – the very creature he spent his life hunting – they are left reeling.
Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help… Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her ghostly transformation has given her.
A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They've overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges after life?
Afterlife is the fourth and final book in Claudia Gray’s popular Evernight series. The Evernight books have followed the star-crossed romance between Lucas, a young vampire hunter, and Bianca, a child of vampires, who met and fell in love while students at the shadowy Evernight Academy. Written for the Young Adult market these books are primarily a fantasy romance serial – so they are best read in order from the start.
Hourglass ended on a huge cliff-hanger. Bianca had just died and risen as a wraith but before she can get to grips with her new powers Lucas is killed by a vampire. Leaving Bianca with the terrible choice of letting Lucas rise as a vampire (something he’s always said he’d rather die than be) or killing him before he rises as an immortal. Tragic, dramatic and gripping – Hourglass was always going to be a hard book to follow. Afterlife begins from the exact point that Hourglass left off but somehow it loses Hourglass’s spark and turns from compelling dark tragedy to just plain gloomy in the transition.
When it came down to it Bianca couldn’t kill Lucas but he has terrible problems with being a vampire. The hunger for blood is overwhelming and when combined with Lucas’s loathing of what he’s become – he’s turned into a sad and desperate character overnight. The lovers can be together forever now because they are both dead and immortal but once again fate conspires to keep them apart – this time it’s Bianca’s poisonous wraith blood and Lucas’s dangerous nightmares that make it unsafe for them to be intimate.
Bianca persuades Lucas to return to the sanctuary of Evernight so that he can learn to cope with being undead and this is where the mystery and action parts of the plot start to take form. Previous books have hinted that Mrs Bethany, the sinister vampire headmistress, has a secret agenda when it comes to wraiths – in Afterlife Bianca and her usual crew of vampire, ghost and human friends get to find out first-hand exactly what Mrs Bethany is plotting.
With its morose backdrop of lives (or afterlives) gone sadly wrong Afterlife makes a gloomy and slightly lack-lustre ending the Evernight series. Even the big reveal and action scenes at the end of the novel can’t lift this story’s gloomy mood. There are themes of reconciliation and redemption running through the story and yet, with the exception of Bianca and her father, all of the scenes of reconciliation seem either forced, or sad and slightly wrong. Usually reconciliation and the chance to set things right or make amends would be the brighter point of a story but that isn’t the case here.
Somehow Ranulf the weird monosyllabic ancient vampire of earlier books has stolen all the best lines in Afterlife. He is just about the one single bright spot in this story. Even the unlucky in love but otherwise upbeat Balthazar seems sunk into gloomy apathy…
For me Afterlife lacks the tragic romance and associated drama that made Hourglass such compelling reading. All in all I liked the story, but not as much as I’d hoped to and not as much as previous series offerings. Still, this doesn’t stop me from eagerly awaiting Balthazar’s spin-off novel which is scheduled for spring 2012 where I’m hoping to see him finally get the girl and maybe resolve the problem of his nutty sister too… Can’t wait!
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