Until The Beginning
by Amy Plum
When Juneau’s clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people’s gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.
Juneau and her new companion Miles’s cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau’s people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people – and herself – Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.
I read After The End in January this year and I thought it was so amazing to have a dystopian book about a clan that has survived until the end of it all just for one girl from this clan to discover that it was all a lie. That just blew my mind and I thought it was the coolest thing to have her whole world shattered and realise that it was all a lie. It also had the interesting factor of these powers her whole clan has and the immortality they are gifted from the mysterious Yara they dedicate their lives to.
There was a lot of adventure in the first book and some romance as well but at the end of the book Miles had died and Juneau is waiting to see if he responds to the yara after she performed the rite on him in an effort to save him. So this book picks up immediately after that and poor Juneau is having to haul Miles’s dead body around while still trying to hide from Whit and the organisation that wants to use her immortality for their personal gain.
It was a quick read because it was just a little over 300 pages so it didn’t take long at all but I didn’t love it. I think it still had all of the factors that made the first book so good but I don’t think it all moulded together as they did in the first book. Actually, the issue in this book is that it was too similar to the first. It’s good that the plot isn’t a total jump to something else but I don’t think much was achieved over the two books. It was just a lot of Miles and Juneau on the road, in a camp and eating totally unhealthy food and snacks from petrol stations. There was actually a lot of reference to the crap food they ate.
Then there was just this odd sort of low drop in the end where I expected something major but it fizzled out into something that was average and forgettable. I feel like I’m being too negative and I must say that I actually did have a few moments where Juneau and Miles made me smile and feel really happy when they were being an adorable new couple but overall it wasn’t a book I loved and that does happen sometimes.
“You are one with the Yara.”
“I see how you are and it makes me want to be strong.”
“I don’t believe anything you say anymore.”
I wasn’t really hugely invested in Miles and Juneau as a couple in the first book and I felt ever less towards them in this book but I can at least say that I enjoyed their banter throughout the book. Their mix of culture and upbringing makes for a hilarious match as they often confuse each other with their terms but also grow and learn together. I did think they put too much sex in this book because even though it wasn’t described in detail it still seemed out of place in terms of what was happening. I think their first time should have at least had a bit more importance but I guess they’re teenagers and when they’re out in the woods in a tent there isn’t much else to do!
The journey Miles took throughout this book was interesting because he went from a spoiled, rich teenager to a boy on the run from his own father and protecting a girl with powers greater than he can understand. Then he dies and is gifted these powers and immortality as well. He’s clearly freaking out when he realises the depth of his change when he connects to the Yara but I think he takes it well and carries on.
When they explained the scientific side of the experiments and the trials they did on the clan I was really happy because I love when stories seem so magical but then it’s actually a lot to do with science and technology. I would have liked more information on that and less of the stupid, cheap villain stuff but that’s how it is.
On that note, the big villain of the book (Avery) wasn’t that much of a villain. Whit was just a pushover and frankly, pretty stupid to believe Avery would use this medicine for good but Avery was just plain. He just wanted to be immortal himself and went to such crazy lengths to get it by capturing a whole clan of people and using a young child as a bargaining chip but then he didn’t even go beyond just saving himself. He could have been so much more of a villain but I guess he was just a scared man wanting to cheat death.
Until The Beginning was a nice flowing story about the greed of humanity and the spiritual past we’ve forgotten for our technology. There are some high and low points but for most of it, there are just a lot of repetitive actions. The book gets points for referencing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but I wasn’t blown away again.
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