Title: Befor (After #0)
Author: Anna Todd
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Published: December 8th 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Book Five of the After series—Anna Todd’s Wattpad fanfiction that racked up one billion reads online and captivated romance readers across the globe! As told by Hardin and other characters, Before will explore the hero’s life before he met Tessa, reveal what happens after After, give you new insights on their turbulent romance—and revel in the awesome power of true love. #HESSA
First line: “When he was little, the boy used to dream of who he would grow up to be.”
My Thoughts (contains spoilers)
I’m not crazy about the After series but I was quite excited about getting my hands on Before. Honestly though, I thought I’d like this book a lot more than I actually did. I went into it thinking that it was something completely different. Originally I thought this book would only be in Hardin’s point of view and would just be a basic retelling of the first book in the series – which is my favourite out of the lot. However, it’s not quite like that.
This book is split up into three sections; Before, During and After:
Before: The first section is made up of chapters from four different people’s points of view – girls which Harden has had some form of ‘relationship’ with. Although I liked getting some more background information on these characters, it was boring and I felt like it was just there to fill out space. I know that the information in these chapters help to understand Molly and Steph’s actions in the other books in the series but I was pretty disinterested and found I had to really push myself through this first section of the book.
During: The second section was more like what I was expecting from the book as a whole. This is the largest section and is solely in Hardin’s point of view which I thought was interesting because I could really explore his inner turmoil and see how messed up he was before he began trying to be better for Tessa. That being said, I found this section a bit messy – along with the whole book actually. Todd just took seemingly important scenes from the first After book and transferred it into Hardin’s point of view, however, it wasn’t a seamless transition. I started really paying attention to this when I reached chapter twenty one, where I felt like there had been quite a drastic time jump. It probably wasn’t even all that long but it felt like it due to the fact that in the previous chapter, Hardin was toying with the idea of actually being Tessa’s boyfriend, then the next chapter she’s losing her virginity to him and he’s proclaiming his love for her. I understand not all scenes could be translated into Hardin’s point of view but after this point the chapters seemed further apart and the characters were referring to things that weren’t mentioned in this book due to those scenes being cut out. This would probably be fine if I had read After recently and could remember all of its minute details but it’s been about a year since I read the first book and I ended up feeling confused and a bit annoyed.
After: The third section of the book includes chapters from six different points of view and, again, I enjoyed the extra information but some characters I just don’t care enough about and some of the scenes written about are just random – not much useful information being gathered from them. I especially felt like this about Zed’s chapter – I didn’t need to know that he found a Tessa lookalike and would probably end up dating her. Also, some of the time frames in the chapters confused me because I never quite knew at which point in Hessa’s relationship these other point of views were written. Nevertheless, I was fond of the Hessa chapters in this section because I quite liked seeing them grown up with kids and how their lives have changed over the years. I also enjoyed witnessing their, especially Hardin’s, character development.
I feel like all I’ve done is focus on the negatives in this review and I don’t want it to seem like that because I didn’t hate it. I just went into it with possibly too-high expectations. I actually love Hardin as a character. I always love reading about ‘problem’ or slightly messed up characters because the way their minds work is so interesting – especially their decision making process.
Something I need to award the whole After series on is it’s character name originality. I have never read a series with weirder names than this and it provided me with a lot of comic relief when I first read them. I originally read this series on Wattpad when it was One Direction fan-fiction and the names weren’t that weird back then but when the books were published they obviously had to make name changes, some of them being:
Harry -> Hardin
Liam -> Landon
Zayn -> Zed
Is Zed even a legitimate name? Anyway, I understood why Todd had to change the names and she certainly was creative with her choices.
Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of the After series as it throws you back into the crazy world of Hessa and supplies you with some more added information. Saying that, you won’t really be missing out on anything if you decide to give this book a miss.
One last thing, I know the movie rights have been bought for the After series so I’ll definitely be checking that out if it ever comes to fruition. Fingers crossed.