'After the fire was an unforgettable story based around a life that no one could ever imagine to be normal. I started reading without knowing anything about the book, and as soon as I read the first page, I was absolutely hooked.
It was based around a girl, called Moonbeam. The story unravels her life throughout the book as each chapter goes from before the fire, and after the fire. The fire is both a literal thing and a way of metaphorically describing the life when she was within a certain place and after she got out of that place.
The place she lived in was run by a man, who they called
Father John, who was devoted to God and had rules which were not dare to be broken. He said he was the messenger of the Lord and everything he said, was not him speaking it was just him passing on speech from God. No TV's, games, mobiles, relationships were aloud and the outside world and the outside people were never aloud to be spoken of, and if they were, very negatively. If any of the rules were broken there were severe punishments including being locked in a metal box for days (in severely hot temperatures) without any food to eat. He also ordered other people to beat others as it was the 'Lords orders.' People went there in search of faith and not knowing what they were in for, once they were there, they were trapped.
He also told them that outsiders were terrible, awful people and they don't find the true path of the Lord. These people would apparently, murder them in the most horrific ways, and they were said to be monsters.
The words that Father John told people in this proximity got inside their heads, some peoples more than others. Babies were born there and it affected adults and children, even at the age of 15, become extremely devoted to their rulers words and they would do anything to stand by them. Others, as they grew elder, took the view that none of these words were real.
Father John tells them that there will be a war, with the outsiders, and 'knowing' it will come, he prepares them for it by giving them fighting practices, guns and other weapons and teach them that they should kill outsiders. So, when the time comes, they all follow Father Johns orders as he is a terrifying figure, so the event is awful and there is a huge fire, many people die and Moonbeam tell her story of life before the fire, and what led up to it, and discovering how she will ever recover. (Note: this does not give anything away, you know this at the beginning!)
The book was structured in a clever way so that the main character Moonbeam, was unravelling the story to us, and characters in the book at the same time. She was taken somewhere after she got out where she stays for a month or so, where she talks to different people, two in particular, a therapist and an FBI worker, where she slowly becomes more confident in telling her story to them and the reader. This means that the story goes back to the moments she is telling her therapists in certain chapters, and it goes back to present tense so you feel like you are at the moment.
I think this was clever as it was written in 1st person so not only was the stories she was telling in present tense, but being in 1st person meant you got hold of her feelings and meant the whole story was much more emotional and fascinating.
Another reason why the structure used was clever is because you know from the first page that she is alive, and she survives the traumatic events, but the story unfolds how she survives, what she goes through, both physically and mentally, and the journey she goes through with others both looking back on her moments in the base and her learning to trust 'outsiders' who she was told before were awful people who she could not trust.
The story also involved other characters who were described so well and you learnt how different people were affected by their experience and words they went through. This taught us how some people are easily touched by words, but also being fed lies which are all you are ever known, are easily believed, and are so hard to be unravelled.
The use of the chapters going back and forth from after and before the fire was a clever affect as in both situations, Moonbeam developed at the same pace, in different ways. In the Base, where she had grew up in all that she remembered, she started to lose faith in trusting Father John as the story went on, where as in the outside, after the fire, she gradually trusted her therapist and FBI more. I think this was clever as the same emotions were shown twinned with each other but in opposite ways.
The book had stories in which were distressing and it was quite a dark plot. Throughout the book, it unravelled more and more secrets of both Father John and MoonBeam actions and views whilst she was in the base and I was itching to know more every page I turned.
The topic, being based on religion, was interesting as it gave an extreme affect on it and how it can be used in the wrong way. It demonstrates not being able to have your own views at all, but having very restricted views and if those weren't obeyed, you would be punished. I think this outlined how important it is to have your own views and be able to say them without people judging you.
I also think it highlighted the fact that people who come across important can affect you with the words and you can be easily persuaded.
It also taught that right and wrong can be changed frequently and it is not always set in stone. It is based a lot around point of view and it is important to know sometimes right and wrong's can change.
Overall, It was a book which I finished very quickly as I was so gripped, and I will definitely be recommending it to everyone I know. It has so many important, truthful messages which are so valuable to todays society and I think it is an important read for all ages. It was quite dark but also by the end uplifting, as you watched characters grow in their mind and adjusting to the world. It was sad at times, scary at times, made you angry and rejoice.
It was a book full of emotions and it was deeply interesting. I would recommend it to ages 14+, it is a YA book but i would also recommend it to adults.