Cover Image: American Afterlife

American Afterlife

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Member Reviews

“No one wants to know. Even the earth’s crust and mantle, all of it. Of course it all belongs to God. And he’s sick of us, of our choices here. ‘And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air ; for it repenteth me that I have made them.’ And ‘behold, I will destroy them with the earth,’ and ‘I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.’ And that’s the truth. That is a promise he’s made, this catastrophic act of God. That’s what we’re seeing here, a purging. We are— collectively— evil people in an evil time.”

Wow this is DARK. Cielo is a 15 year old undocumented immigrant who stays behind after everyone else is evacuating following a devastating earthquake in Eugene, Oregon. Or almost everyone. She was afraid that she would be caught and deported if she had gone. But she is also worried about her mother, who has gotten caught up in a growing cult, the Collection of Redeemed Souls. And Cielo quickly finds out she's not the only one that stayed behind.

I really enjoyed this even though it was bleak and often tough to read.

Thank you netgalley and Crooked Lane books for giving me an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I always appreciate a good apocalyptic-type story, and I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do if I were in Cielo’s situation.  I don’t think I would have fared as well.  While trying just to survive day to day, add in trying to find her mom, and a cult?  Count me out.
Beautiful story of survival and family bonds.  Loved it.
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American Afterlife is one of those taut, riveting novels that you cannot look away from, that you read in just a couple of sittings, despite the fact that within its pages are relentless, heartbreaking horrors.

The beating heart of this story is fifteen-year-old Cielo, an undocumented immigrant living with her mother in a converted garage in Eugene, Oregon. At the beginning of the novel, her mother has been gone for weeks, and a massive earthquake has turned Eugene into an island, surrounding the highest parts of the city with stagnant floodwaters that have drowned most of the town. Cielo is completely on her own, foraging for food and supplies in semi-destroyed houses that may or may not contain the decaying bodies of her neighbors. She's trying to form a plan to recover her missing mother from the clutches of a sinister evangelical cult known as the Collective of Redeemed Souls, while also trying to hide from the cult members who are going house to house, rounding up anyone who is still alive.

I sucked in a breath on the very first page of American Afterlife, and I swear I didn't release that breath until I'd finished reading it. The world of this book is bleak and brutal, portrayed with vivid, intimate detail by Pedro Hoffmeister. His pacing and plotting are masterful as he explores the aftermath of a natural disaster through the eyes of one young survivor. Cielo is the best kind of character; she is hardened and brave but also vulnerable, wise to some ways of the world and completely naive to others. She is a character that you will root for and worry for, that you will want to protect and save from the horrors she's living through, even though you know she's capable of protecting herself. She reminded me a lot of Jade from My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

Suspenseful and full of heart and horror in equal measure, American Afterlife is an unflinching survival story with an unforgettable heroine. I highly recommend this one and I sincerely hope it gets the attention that it deserves.
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There is a powerful earthquake in Eugene Oregon.  Cielo is searching for food and supplies in homes either damaged from the earthquake or abandoned.  Due to no emergency services, Cielo doesn’t know who to trust.  She decides that she needs to go and searching for her missing immigrant Mexican mother.  Her mother was drawn to a cult, the Collection of Redeemed Souls.  Cielo continues to search for food, water, shelter and her mother while evading the cult.  The cult is searching for people they can compel to join their cult.  Will she find her mother?  Will she survive in this devastated state?

The novel is taut, and prescient exploration of survival and the humanity after an earthquake.  It’s a journey that Cielo takes alone making it all the more difficult to survive.  It’s a suspenseful book to read which Kept me wanting to read one more chapter before I went to sleep.  It’s a great novel to read!
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While this book does a good job exploring the protagonist's development in the aftermath of an apocalyptic disaster, the pacing was quite slow, and that unfortunately diminished my enjoyment of the novel.

The main conflict doesn't begin to pick up for over a quarter of the book, and that doesn't quite fit the "thriller" label given in the book's blurb. I was expecting something more in line with typical post-apocalyptic thrillers, where the protagonist is constantly encountering threats one after the other and struggling to survive, but for a long time in this story, the protagonist is simply raiding houses for supplies day after day and occasionally coming across some grisly scene left by the earthquake. Those little moments are good for development, sure, but they don't really advance the overall plot.

In short, this book is less of a thriller and more of an introspective exploration of the main character's psyche in the wake of the disaster. And while that's a perfectly fine thing to be, that didn't match my expectations based on the blurb and cover of the novel.
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A gripping apocalyptic thriller that felt all too real.  Cielo is a brave, resourceful young woman it is easy to root for.  In addition to the hellscape caused by an earthquake and tsunami, she has to deal with an extreme cult that is forcibly recruiting new members. The bleakness and dread surrounding her felt palpable.  Loved this novel.
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Horrifying and heartbreaking at the same time. 
Great apocalyptic thriller that had a true storyline. 
Just be prepared that this isn’t a happy and cheery one but a sad one. But it’s good. Well written.
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When I first read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. 
And y'all it didn't disappoint me either. 

American Afterlife by Pedro Hoffmeister is a wonderful, beautiful yet heartbreaking story. 
His writing was amazing and drew me in instantly. I was hooked once I started.
I love an apocalyptic thriller story and Hoffmeister hit this one outta the park. This was one of the best I've ever read. 
The characters were well developed and what they felt, I felt. 
This was such a fast paced thrill ride. I loved the format of this book. It made it even more enjoyable to read. 
I was truly engaged in the characters and story the whole time. 

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.” 

Crooked Lane Books,
Thank You for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
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Wow. What a heartbreaking, yet beautiful book. Survival, coming of age tale. A brave young heroine. Harsh at times yet brilliant. This will be a bestseller.
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This is a very bleak read.

I’m telling you from the start that after reading this, you’ll want to go pet a puppy or smile at a baby, but it won’t work and you’ll still be stuck in the despair of it all until you read something lighter.

That being said, it’s also a very good read.

Cielo is amazing.  I wanted to hug her and protect her – the only problem is that she wouldn’t trust me and would end up stabbing me or something before I could comfort her.  And then, as I lay there bleeding out, I’d still want to protect her from the author’s world.

The world the author has created is one of endless horrors.   Expect a read that pulls very few punches, gives you a heroine to truly root for, and leaves you breathless.

*ARC via Publisher
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Pedro Hoffmeister's "American Afterlife" is nothing short of brilliant. Hoffmeister's writing is vivid, imaginative, and  utterly compelling. Even though I REALLY needed to get some good quality sleep last night, I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. glued to this book. (Thanks, Pedro!)  Earthquakes and tsunamis are topics frequently discussed in my home. I've been married to an engineering geologist for 22 years, and I've read many nonfiction books about the Cascadia Subduction Zone. You could say I'm very picky when it comes to novels that depict life after the next Cascadia megaquake.  "American Afterlife" is the absolute best novel I've read about what happens when a 9+ quake hits the 600 mile-long fault where the Juan de Fuca and North American plate converge. Hoffmeister is an incredibly talented writer. Don't miss "American Afterlife" - you're in for a riveting read!
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A apocalyptic thriller that combines our worst fears with some of our worst prejudices. The Big One has finally hit the West Coast. What’s left after the 9.2 earthquake is swept away by the tsunami that follows. Teenage Cielo has been worried about her mother’s devotion to a cult that calls themselves the Collection of Redeemed Souls, as Mexican immigrants without legal US status, they have always been in fear of being discovered. Now, with the world on fire, their lives are about to get exponentially worse. When her mother disappears, Cielo makes it her one priority to find her, alive or dead, turning down help from the National Guard to search for her mother. Unfortunately, members of the cult have also chosen to stay behind, forcibly indoctrinating survivors into their group. Cielo is caught in a nightmare world of vigilantes, murderers, and cultists as she continues her seemingly hopeless quest. Scary as hell
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