After The Woods by Kim Savage is what I would consider a YA suspense/mystery novel. It reminded me a lot of In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware just in Young Adult form.
The novel opens with friends Julia and Liv going for a run in the woods. Liv gets ahead of Julia and when she finally catches up she sees Liv on the ground with a man holding a knife to her throat. After Julia goes after him, Liv gets away and the man takes Julia instead. She later gets away and struggles throught the woods for two days before being found and taken to safety. Fast forward to almost a year later, Julia can’t remember much of what happened and Liv has been acting strange. Then the body of a girl is found in the woods in the same area where Julia was taken. Julia then tries to piece together what happened to her while she was with her abductor.
I say this for every book I review so I feel like a broken record but I really enjoyed this book. I think that although a work of fiction, it portrays what I could imagine to be emotions connected to abductions and what victims and their families think and feel and how making it home can impact them all.
I liked how Julia and Liv both dealt with it in different ways and although Julia was the one taken, Liv was the one acting out and being strange. It was almost as if it happened to her and Julia had to make her feel better instead of the other way around. In the beginning I thought they had such a good friendship so it made sense that Liv would feel that way but then I just started to think that she wasn’t good for Julia and was kind of holding her back from moving on. Then secrets are revealed and things become clear, maybe you don’t know people like you thought.
I also liked seeing the progression of Julia’s relationship with Kellan. It wasn’t the central focus of the plot but it still evolved and became more than I thought it would. I enjoyed how it was played out and I was satisfied with where it was at the end of the book.
The one thing I thought was a little weird were the families. Liv’s mother was overbearing and kind of treated Julia like a speck of dirt on her shoe, never really seeming to be grateful to her for basically saving her daughter. Also Julia’s mom and sort of secret father. That at times was confusing. Does her mom have feelings for him as a friend or something more. Why don’t they ever talk their arrangement? I’m not entirely sure how I felt about that aspect of the story.
As for the reporter. Was she friend or foe? At times I thought she really cared about Julia’s well-being but then other times she came off as a bitch who only cared about getting the story before anyone else. And her son was a little A-S-S.
Now for the ending… I liked the ending a lot. I thought it gave some closure to many of the characters and everything was tied up enough for my liking. Parts of the ending I figured out early on while other parts I was surprised by. Regardless it was definitely satisfying.
I gave After The Woods 5 stars on Goodreads and highly recommend it.