The publication of dystopian fiction for young adults has abounded over recent years and After brings together 19 stories of apocalypse and dystopia by an impressive ensemble of authors including heavyweights such as Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix and Jane Yolen. The stories explore a range of scenarios concerning the end of the world and the last vestiges of humanity including war, plagues and flooding. What binds the story is strong characterisation, their ideas led plots and the indomitable sense of the need to find ways to survive in extremes of emotion and experience. The form enables focus on exploration of preoccupations and fears of society.
With its shifting emphasis and the definition it creates in the foreword, it is easy to foresee ‘After’ becoming a seminal tome for the genre. For the most part, the stories collected here are of exceptional calibre with ‘Faint Heart’ by Sarah Rees Breenan and the highly powerful ‘Visiting Nelson’ by Katherine Langrish, being particularly worthy of note and cementing their positions as key authors in the oeuvre.
Although the protagonists here are themselves young adult, the themes and the complexity of their positioning and exploration make the collection equally suited to adult audiences. A far reaching and notable collection.