Carrie Jones and Steven E Wedel

Bloomsbury (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-1827-5

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

After Obsession is a young adult novel which is fast moving, entertaining and interesting, but not particularly thought provoking. It has limited depth, but the entertainment value is strong.

Two people wrote the novel: Carrie Jones is the author of at least three previous books, including Captivate, while so far as I can tell, Steven Wedel is a first time author. The novel certainly had the same tone to it as Captivate – it suggests that Jones may have been a more dominant partner in the writing.

Alan has just moved to Maine and he’s less than happy. He and his single mother moved to be with her sister and niece after the death of her brother in law. Alan doesn’t much like Maine – it’s cold. And the school is so small it doesn’t have a football team, which dashes his hopes of a football scholarship to university and a professional career to follow. And besides, he’s always had a sneaking hope that his father might come looking for him – even though he may not even know that Alan, the result of a one night stand, exists. This seems even less likely now they’ve moved.

When Alan meets Aimee, his cousin’s best friend, things instantly look brighter. There’s a real charge between them, and within days Aimee has split up with her boyfriend and the two of them are sharing their secrets. But before they can freely embark on a relationship, they have to solve a pretty big problem: Alan’s cousin, Courtney, doesn’t want to believe her father is dead. Vulnerable and grieving, she’s opened herself to a demon. If Alan and Aimee can’t successfully combine their unique talents to exorcise the demon, it’ll kill Courtney – and maybe everyone around her.

There really isn’t a lot of depth to this novel. For example, I never got a real sense of Courtney’s grief – we were told about it, but there was never a moment when I actually felt it, from her or from any other character. Nor did I have any sense that her mother was grieving a husband. It was oddly sterile in that respect. And although Alan is annoyed at moving, he shrugs it off within days. Again, there was little sense of real emotion here. And I didn’t really get a strong sense of the desperation that should have been conveyed late in the story. Essentially, this was a novel that skated over the surface emotionally. It’s hard to picture anyone being moved by it.

However, both Alan and Aimee are moderately strong characters. Aimee in particular conveys some of the contradictions of a real person; believing one thing but sometimes behaving in another way, having divided feelings about her psychic abilities, and similar conflicts. Both Aimee and Alan are from single parent families (albeit their circumstances are otherwise very different), but I didn’t really feel that either were much affected by that lack. Again, they talked about it; but there was no sense, for example, of the challenges a girl faces hitting puberty in a house where she’s being raised by her father and grandfather with her baby brother.

Nevertheless, it was easy to believe in the attraction between Aimee and Alan and much of their behaviour was also credible and convincing. If you’re happy not to delve too far below the surface, then they’re interesting characters.

Similarly, there isn’t a lot of depth to the plot, although that is undoubtedly in part a function of the length of most young adult books. Although there isn’t a lot of depth, it’s an interesting plot, and there is sufficient action to keep the reader involved and turning the pages. The action is well written and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when lots of things are happening. The plot is fairly tight – not too much that’s extraneous – and is resolved in a way that will satisfy most readers.

This is a pretty good book for younger readers. It’ll keep them interested and involved to the end, and they’ll probably find things to empathise with in the main characters. I’m not sure how memorable After Obsession will be in the long run; it feels rather like one of those TV movies that you quite enjoy while you’re watching but can’t describe a week later. Although Jones and Wedel have written an entertaining novel, there isn’t enough meat to keep you thinking about it once you’ve closed the covers. Sometimes that’s what you want, and this novel entertains well on that level.