If you like a heavy dose of creepy with your paranormal romance, then check out After Obsession by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel, in stores today from Bloomsbury USA:
Aimee and Alan have unusual pasts and secrets they prefer to keep hidden. Aimee’s deceased mother struggled with mental illness and hallucinations, and Aimee thinks it could be hereditary. After all, she sees a shadowy river man where there isn’t one. And then there was that time she and her best friend Courtney tried to conjure a spirit with a Ouija board . . .
Alan is Courtney’s cousin. His family moved to Maine when Courtney’s father went missing. It’s not just Alan’s dark good looks that make him attractive. He is also totally in touch with a kind of spiritual mysticism from his Native American heritage. And it’s not long before Aimee has broken up with her boyfriend . . .
But it’s not Aimee or Alan who is truly haunted – it’s Courtney. In a desperate plea to find her father, Courtney invites a demonic presence into her life. Together, Aimee and Alan must exorcise the ghost, before it devours Courtney – and everything around her.
Jones and Wedel team up nicely — writing alternating chapters, with Jones taking Aimee’s POV and Wedel taking Alan’s. The pairing works well, and each narrative voice is unique — while the story itself flows evenly across both narrators. They’ve also created a great mood with their setting.
It’s also refreshing to see Jones and Wedel give a fresh take on the paranormal genre. After all, there are so many books in this genre hitting store shelves these days, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd — but they definitely do so with After Obsession. It’s a nice mix of demonic possession, magical abilities, and Native American folklore.
Jones and Wedel also do a good job of creating sparks between Aimee and Alan. The chemistry feels natural, not forced, and they make their speedy teenage romance work in a way that doesn’t feel awkward or manipulated for the sake of the story. It’s also nice to see a teenage romance portrayed as loving — yet without the “I’ll die without” melodrama so often conveyed in YA. (And while, in some cases, is still highly enjoyable — it’s nice to see a teen romance portrayed without that element here!)
However, I do have two minor complaints.
The first is this: if you’re going to name a character Alan Parsons, you simply cannot wait until page 128 to make any sort of joke or reference to the Alan Parsons Project. Even if most teen readers might not get the reference, you can’t let it sit that long … us older readers will sit there staring at the early pages going, “Really? He’s named Alan Parsons? Really?!” Make the joke sooner, get it over with, and move on.
The second has to do with the cartoonish portrayal of TV news journalists in the book. Now, I’ll be clear here, I work in TV news, so I’m particularly sensitive to these misrepresentations. However, as a reader, I’m also a bit insulted that (a) Jones & Wedel seemingly did no research about how reporters actually behave or that (b) they simply chose to ignore reality and use this stereotyped portrayal to further a minor plot device. Couldn’t you have been a bit more clever in finding a way to make Aimee sleep over at Alan’s hosue? Does it have to be this cartoonish idea of TV reporters, lurking like vultures outside her home, waiting to pounce? Because I can assure you: TV reporters never behave this way in real life. Despite what you might have seen in movies, that’s just not the case. At all. Ever.
Like I said, my two complaints are really rather minor — and shouldn’t detract you from checking out After Obsession for yourself. Because they didn’t stop me from enjoying the book itself, either.
Also, bonus points because the book is quite clearly a STANDALONE — something so rare these days in YA, particularly in paranormal romance! I love being able to wrap things up in one book sometimes, and I really appreciate the effort Jones and Wedel made to do that with After Obsession.