Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage After the Woods by Kim Savage
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 23rd 2016
Pages: 320
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
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Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

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I’ve had this book on my TBR since long before it had a cover- really, before it had a legitimate synopsis. I just loved the sound of it. So when it found its way to my porch, I was pretty thrilled. I loved it so much that I took it on a field trip to take photos of it in nature. Because the ones in my room weren’t good enough, really.

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Anyway, I am getting off track, as usual. The book, yes. It was actually different than I thought it would be, but I assure you it’s in a good way. It’s very psychologically and character driven, while still maintaining the mystery aspect.

Since it’s aptly titled, After the Woods takes place, you know, after Julia was kidnapped in the woods (see what they did there?), we know she’s physically okay in this moment. But as you’d imagine, she’s having trouble dealing with the mental and emotional healing process. It doesn’t help that she can’t remember most of it. Some people were like “ohh, that’s good, you don’t have to relive it!”, but Julia didn’t want to hear any of that. She wanted to know what happened to her, and I think that’s why I connected to her so quickly- I would have had to know all the things too. 

Julia’s quite intelligent, and inquisitive, and at times, a total smart-ass, which is very fun. I like that there are bits of humor in a book that could otherwise be too dark. She’s clearly beyond loyal, since she saved her best friend Liv’s life that day in the woods. She’s also worried about her mom, and how she’s dealing with it. They have a really nice relationship, which was also refreshing.

What about Liv? She’s eternally grateful for Julia’s heroism, and hugs her every day until the end of time? Not even almost. She’s annoyed that Julia even still cares about it. If Julia mentions some concern she has about being kidnapped? Liv rolls her eyes and brushes it off. Julia feels bad for Liv because Liv’s mom is the actual worst. Like, if you looked up “terrible human being”, I swear her description would be there. And I get it- Liv’s mom treats her terribly, but I still don’t see that as an excuse to, in turn, treat the friend that saved your life like rubbish. And while I did not like Liv as a character, I think her storyline was fabulously developed. Because I have to assume we aren’t meant to like her, basically.

So with the anniversary of Julia’s disappearance coming up and a new body found that could be connected to the kidnapper, the media is all over the place. Julia’s mom doesn’t really want her to get involved of course, and Liv’s mom… dyes her hair, just in case the cameras come. Well then. See what I mean about her being the worst? But Liv doesn’t want to talk to the media- and Julia will use any tools at her disposal to find answers. She’s resourceful like that.

This is hard to review because I don’t want to say much about the plot. I will say that I absolutely enjoyed the direction it went in. I will also say that I did know where things were heading by around the halfway mark, but that was okay, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book much. One of my favorite things about the book was that everyone had such different outlooks on this awful situation. And most people were perfectly happy to voice their opinions, even though in truth, Julia’s kidnapper was the only one who knew all those answers- answers that Julia needed to move on.

There’s a touch of romance that works well, because it didn’t get in the way of the actual story at hand- and definitely added some much needed support for Julia.

The writing was really great, and I enjoyed the pacing and the story, and especially how well each character was developed. I felt like I really got a sense of who the characters were, even some of the side characters. They felt authentic, and their reactions to some of these circumstances felt very authentic too. (Yes, that’s vague. Blame potential spoilers.)

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed this book! I loved Julia’s character and her quest for answers. I loved that she stood by her decision to save Liv, even when Liv wasn’t so likable. I loved that there were secrets, and lies, and all kinds of mysteries behind the mystery of the kidnapping. Overall, it was a really solid debut, and I will be eagerly anticipating the author’s next book!

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Two things: 1) Would you have saved your best friend? Or would have run like hell?
2) Do you think you would need to know what happened, like Julia? Or could you be content never knowing all the details? 

Posted February 25, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review / 27 Comments


27 responses to “Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

  1. Hmm that’s a hard question. I still want to live, but I don’t want to live with the guilt of leaving my bestfriend behind… I’d need to know what happened of course, what did they do to me, what happened, how did I escape. It’s important. I can’t experience something important and not knowing what happened. The curiosity would eat me alive! This book sounds amazing! Adding this to my tbr now, and thanks for sharing! 😀

    • Aw yay, you are welcome, I hope you enjoy it! And I feel you, I would NEED to know. I am team Julia on this one. But… I also feel like I would have run- and then tried to get help, of course. I guess you never know until you’re in the sutuation- and hopefully, none of us ever will be!

  2. This sounds like a really interesting read! If I were in her situation, which I’m very grateful I’m not, I’d have to know what happened to me too. I think not knowing is even worse, because then your mind would feel violated too? Liv sounds terrible. If I had a friend who saved my life, I’d hug them for eternity!

    I actually might pick this up now, great review!

    • Aw thank you!! I agree, VERY grateful not to be in the situation, also would need to know 😀 Liv is the worst. The absolute worst. I mean, I felt for her, but like, having a bad home life doesn’t excuse complete assholery, you know? I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

  3. I tend to struggle with YA mystery books because they are very predictable for me. I’m easily able to guess what happened, but I’m very curious about this one. I’m glad that you enjoyed the direction of the plot. The MC sounds like one I can get behind too. I’ll be sure to pick up a copy when it releases.
    And man those questions you asked were loaded. I’d like to think that I would have tried to save my friend’s life and want to know what happened to her, but I’m not sure how I would react in that time, you know?
    Fab review, Shannon!

    • I am the same way, I feel like I can usually guess too. Like I said, I DID guess, but like, it was so psychologically driven, that it was okay that I knew- because the characters didn’t, and I felt like that was the bigger deal, if that makes sense?

      I don’t know what I would do either. Probably run 😉 I mean, I WANT to say save the friend, but in the situation? I feel like your instincts just take over. And I would HAVE to know what happened to me. That I am sure of! And thank you dear ♥

  4. Oooh, I’ve ONLY heard good things about this one so far AND I AM EXCITED. ;D Not that I have a copy, haha, AHEM. But I’m going to find myself one eventually and devour it because thrillers. YUUUUUS. (Also I loved the photo!! :D)

  5. I would have definitely saved my best friend! And trust that I will want to know the truth and wouldn’t stop at all.
    I definitely got even more interested when I read “psychological”. I love those books! They sometimes play with your mind and I like that…in books only please. I’m glad you enjoyed this one 🙂

  6. Ok this is a case where I judged a book by its cover, never read the blurb and got it all wrong. I thought it was like fantasy or a retelling and was all eh. But this sounds like my kind of book!! I need answers about what happened now! I would like to think I would have defended my best friend but I have a feeling I would run 🙁 Great review!

  7. Ooh this book sounds so fun! Im definitely interested and I’ve heard good things about it so far.

    You know that guy who punched a bear to save his tiny dog? That would be me. I’d punch a bear.
    If I was kidnapped, though, I’d really want to know what happened s ok that they can try to catch who did it and because I’d hate having this empty gap of time of not knowing what happened. It’s the worst feeling!

    • AWWWW! That is awesome- I wish I would punch a bear, but alas, I would likely weep in a corner 😉 I would definitely want to know all the things. And that is basically how Julia felt, like there was a chunk of time missing, and it was just NOT okay! I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

  8. I lovveeeee this cover, it’s so beautiful. Okay, now that I’m done with that… I honestly can’t say. I would love to think I would save my friend, but you never know in the heat of the moment. And I wouldn’t want to know what happened. I’ve never been a very curious person and in my experience digging up hidden things almost always makes it worse. But when I’m reading a book I want to know everything possible ever! Funny how that works out…

  9. I’ve only ever seen this book in passing and I’ve never really give much thought to it until now. The premise is definitely interesting and I love the fact that the book focuses on the psychological and emotional impact the kidnapping had on her and I would definitely want to know what really happened instead of having no memory of it at all.

  10. Hey at least Julia is alive, I suppose, right? Or I guess those 48 hours were not great. Dude, I can’t believe her best friend just left her after being SAVED. Like ok there. I don’t think I was ever interested in this though. Because it seems too thriller-y for me. AND TO ANSWER THE Q’s

    1) Would you have saved your best friend? Or would have run like hell? Ughhhhhh. Ideally I would save my best friend. I think. I don’t know, I HOPE IT NEVER FREAKING COMES TO THAT. I would save you though Shannon, can I get brownie points?
    2) Do you think you would need to know what happened, like Julia? Or could you be content never knowing all the details?
    I WOULD NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THIS.

  11. Ooh, this sounds really good and I LOVE that photo you took of the book! I tend to stay away from mysteries/thrillers because I am a total chicken however, after looking at the minuscule amount of books I’ve read that are out of my comfort zone, I think I will start navigating other genres (naw, look at me being all brave and adventurous) and this book might be one I pick up!
    To answer your question:
    1) I would try to save my best friend and in my head I would totally like kick that guy’s butt and rescue my friend BUT I know in real life I’d totally freak out and I’d probably run but I hope that I would calm my nerves and try to rescue my friend. OH MY GOSH just thinking about this terrifies me. *hides under bed*

    2) I would need to know EVERYTHING. I NEED ANSWERS OKAY.

  12. The book sounds really interesting. I might have to check it out at some point. I love how you posed questions at the end of your review!
    I’m not sure about question one because I probably need to read the book to know all of the circumstances.
    Question two: yes! I hate not having the answers!

  13. oooohhhh. this sounds wild. this also sounds like that new movie with that girl from the hunger games. (Nat Dormer?) I can’t remember the movie name. Gah. She goes to a forest, looking for her sister and it’s SIMILAR but not so much. I’m so glad it was fabulously developed and there were such lovely side-characters. I’ve been looking forward to this & I’m so obsessed with the cover! It’s so eerie & pretty!

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