Annotation: Although Amelia and Joshua are trying to make the most of their lives together, Amelia wonders if she, being a ghost, can really give Josh the life he deserves. After the pair travel to New Orleans with Joshua’s family for Christmas, Amelia inadvertently takes part in a powerful voodoo ritual that will change her afterlife forever.
Personal thoughts: I was a huge, huge fan of Hereafter, and so I was eagerly anticipating this sequel for quite some time. After reading it, however, I’m not quite sure what to think. Everything I really liked about Hereafter was gone: Amelia learning who or what she is, her saving Joshua from drowning, their falling in love, her battling Eli. I understand that the author had to change up the story, but I don’t think I’ve read another sequel that is so starkly different from the first novel. Overall, I would say that Arise is a good book, but I wish that somehow the tone or feel of the novel would have felt at least slightly familiar. Either way, I plan to read the third novel when it’s released next year and would still highly recommend this series for tween and teen readers.
Plot summary: Now that Eli has been banished to the dark netherworld, Amelia has eternity, or however long her afterlife lasts, to spend with her boyfriend, Joshua Mayhew. But what kind of life can she offer Joshua; she is invisible to everyone but Joshua’s sister, Jillian, she can’t touch Joshua for more than a few minutes without materializing somewhere else, and she will be eighteen forever, forced to watch Joshua grow older. To make matters worse, Amelia has also become plagued by terrible nightmares of a strange place with a mysterious woman who warns her that she is in danger. When Amelia travels with Joshua and his family to spend Christmas in New Orleans, she hopes that the change of scenery will keep her, and the people she loves, safe from whatever is hunting her. But when she and Joshua meet a beautiful girl in a voodoo shop who promises that she can help solve their problems, Amelia inadvertently agrees to take part in a powerful ceremony that will change her afterlife forever.
Review: This highly-anticipated follow-up to Tara Hudson’s bestselling novel, Hereafter, proves to be a bit of departure from the original book, but one that manages to take the story in an unlikely direction. The events in the first novel are very, very different from the sequel. Gone is Amelia’s quest to learn who she is, how she died, etc., replaced instead by her desire to ensure that her boyfriend, Joshua, is able to live a safe and normal life. This is somewhat odd considering that, in Hereafter, they met when Joshua nearly drowned and proceeded to battle a rogue spirit, but Arise explores this concept quite a bit regardless. The setting also changes drastically, from Oklahoma to the French Quarter. The voodoo element also makes for a new addition to the overall feel of the book, as does the result of the ritual that Amelia takes part in. The events of the story make for an effective platform from which the third and final novel in the trilogy can continue on, but, overall, the tone of Arise is different enough from the book that it makes the reader wonder what exactly to expect in the last installment. To say that the sequel is unsuccessful or not as good as the first book in the series wouldn’t be accurate, but fans of Hereafter should be warned that they are in for something very different in almost every way possible. The third novel, Elegy, is set to be released in 2013.
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Hereafter by Tara Hudson, Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Everneath by Brodi Ashton.
Themes: Ghosts, the afterlife, demons, romance, voodoo, death.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from VOYA and Kirkus. Sequel to best-selling novel.
Series Information: Second novel in Hereafter trilogy. First novel, Hereafter, released in 2011. Third novel, Elegy, set to be released in 2013.
Discussion questions:- Why do you think Amelia was considering ending her relationship with Joshua? Do you think it was the right thing to do?
- Why do you think Jillian didn’t like Amelia?
- Do you think it was really Amelia’s father in her vision of the field? Why or why not?
- Who do you think the red-haired girl is from Amelia’s visions? Do you think she is a protagonist or antagonist?
- What do you think happened in Gaby’s voodoo ceremony? Do you think the result was good or bad for Amelia? Why?
- Which novel did you like better: Hereafter or Arise? Why?