Tuesday, January 14, 2014

REVIEW: After Math and Redesigned by Denise Grover Swank ( #NATour )

I have a lot of misgivings about the new adult label.  I'm going to admit that straight away. So when I heard about Faye's New Adult blog tour, I didn't immediately jump to take part... but I also don't enjoy the feeling of being left out. So I decided to pick up a new adult book and give it a chance.  That book just so happened to be After Math by Denise Grover Swank. And while I still don't love this play on words (after ... math/aftermath) I did wholly enjoy this wonderful, romantic and heartfelt story.  I enjoyed it so much that immediately after finishing After Math I went off to download the next book in the Off the Subject series, Redesigned.

After Math tells the story of university student, Scarlett, who suffers from social anxiety and who feels more comfortable doing math equations than she does at parties or with anyone else besides her best friend, Caroline. And then Tucker Price, junior and bad boy, walks into the tutoring centre where Scarlett volunteers and everything changes for her.  Because Tucker is failing a maths class and only Scarlett can help him get through it.

I think the thing that I liked so much about this story is the execution of it.  Yes, many new adult books follow a similar storyline - bad boy meets girl in university, they fall in love, happily ever after.  Usually there are issues and emotional baggage that one or both is carrying around that immediately prevent the two love interests from getting together. So far, so predictable.

But what I loved about After Math is that it would have been easy to paint Scarlett as a doormat and a virgin and so inexperienced with men and with love and sex that she feels more strongly about Tucker than she'd most likely feel if she hadn't dated more or experienced more.  Instead, Scarlett, despite her social anxieties, stands up to Tucker and refuses to be disrespected or treated badly.  And that is just what Tucker needs. Someone who will challenge him, someone who expects more of him instead of giving him an easy ride because of his athletic ability or his background or his looks and charm.

After Math was a book that I really fell in love with. I read it very quickly and became very emotionally invested in both Scarlett and Will's stories and their relationship.   I love that it takes a familiar story and gave it interesting characters and a relationship that I really cared about for the entirety of the novel.

And then I picked up Redesigned, another book in the Off the Subject series by Denise Grover Swank and I was impressed all over again.  Caroline, Scarlett's best friend in After Math, wasn't a character that really stood out for me if I'm honest. And it was really interesting to read more about her in this book.  Scarlett was incredibly nice about her from her perspective in After Math, especially considering that Scarlett has a policy about the men she dates ... they have to be the right major and have great prospects and bank accounts.

And all of this comes up very openly when Caroline meets Reed Pendergraft, a maths graduate student that she meets at one of Scarlett's parties. Despite being very attracted to each other, Caroline shuts down Reed for not falling into the right categories.  And this becomes very awkward when Reed is also involved with an important committee that Caroline is also part of, organising a fashion show. 

It is at times hard to connect with Caroline and her gold digger ways especially when she turns down such a nice person like Reed but we do eventually begin to understand Caroline's motivations for her decisions. And while I didn't love Caroline and Reed as much as I loved Scarlett and Tucker, I did still did really root for them throughout.  I kind of wanted to shake Caroline a bit and just shout at her to just let Reed know about her background and why she is the way she is. But I could also really understand why she found that difficult.

Instead of a straightforward relationship, Caroline's and Reed's is one that is much more tempestuous and I loved watching their relationship unfold. It seems to built mostly on attraction rather than a mutual respect for one another but then that does begin to change once they both let down some of their emotional walls and let each other in.  I really felt for Caroline's backstory in particular and I loved how she bonds with disadvantaged children as part of her fashion studies.

Redesigned was another wonderful new adult book that I couldn't put down once I'd started. After reading some real duds, After Math and Redesigned made me feel excited and energised again about new adult fiction!

This post is part of the New Year New Adult Blog Tour hosted by the very lovely Faye from A Daydreamer's Thoughts.  Please do visit Faye's blog for more info and keep up-to-date with all the fab posts lined up for this month.

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  1. I started reading this series and then got sidetracked. It looks like I've been missing out on quite a lot and need to get back to it.

    1. I'd really recommend going back to these books for sure :)


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