I love when newbie writers make it big. It gives me hope that celebrities aren’t the only people getting lucrative book deals. So when I first heard about Anna Todd’s insane Wattpad success with her book After, I was pumped for her… until I started reading.
You see, Anna Todd isn’t much of a writer. Not only is she lacking in style, she has little imagination, and her prose makes me want to move to a cabin in the woods because if After is getting picked up by Simon & Schuster (and Paramount Pictures), the apocalypse is upon us and fire will soon rain from the sky.
I have nothing against Wattpad. Wattpad, for all appearances, seems to be awesome. It’s an online platform where writers can post short stories and novels, chapter by chapter. It’s a safe place to find people who share your passion for vampires or smut or, in Anna Todd’s case, the band One Direction.
That’s how this whole After nightmare first began: as One Direction fan fiction, starring member of the band Harry Styles. Let me tell you the plot, because I know you’re clawing your eyes out by now, dying to hear what kind of brilliant storyline would earn such a rabid fan base.
Tessa is an annoyingly naïve virgin who’s never had a touch of alcohol in her life. She heads off to college, where she meets stereotypical bad girl roomie Steph. We know Steph is bad because she has… tattoos. (Not tattoos!) Steph is friends with all sorts of party animals, including Harry.
Now, here’s where it gets really original: Harry has tattoos, too, and he’s a total sarcastic jerk who Tessa feels mysteriously drawn to. Oh, and he’s British, like his namesake. But as we find out, Harry likes to read, which makes him totally deep or something. Author Todd even fits in the obligatory “I bet you like Mr. Darcy” conversation, because there aren’t enough Darcy references in the world.
After is being called a more innocent version of Fifty Shades, which makes me grind my teeth to nubs because Fifty Shades was atrocious enough. If it weren’t for the sex scenes in Fifty Shades, the book would have been nothing but the constant nagging of an insecure idiot (which should be the tagline for After).
The dialogue is stilted, like some high schooler decided to write an after-school special about the drama, drama, drama of drinking vodka. Literally, lines like “Hey, Tessa, how was your day?” appear in brain-melting abundance, as well as references to Tessa’s parts “down there.”
Even worse, perhaps, than the writing and unoriginal storyline are the comments from the masses who find After so dang brilliant. Most of the comments are barely legible, so repugnant is the grammar and punctuation. No wonder these readers are hypnotized by the flat characters and mundane conflict of Ms. Todd’s literary disaster.
But Simon & Schuster? Paramount? What in God’s name are they thinking? If this is the crap that passes for literature in 2014, we might as well give up hope. We have become the film Idiocracy, where only the dumb people procreate, watering down our gene pool to the shallow level of pond scum.
If After is evidence of anything, it is that smart people have become the exception. Soon, we will be hunted down by drooling Anna Todd fans with pitchforks and burned as witches.