Title: Until The Beginning (After The End #2)
Author: Amy Plum
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2015
Genre: YA Paranormal
First, I’d like to clarify something: when searching out this book on Goodreads, it is classified under dystopian, science fiction, and fantasy. While I don’t care what the majority of people shelve this book under, it does make it misleading to others who decide to read it. I still loved the story. And it still has very paranormal elements. But it is in no way a dystopia, science-fiction, or fantasy book. Glad we cleared that up! 😉
Juneau manages to bring Miles back from the gunshot wound, but only because she put him through The Rite, a ceremony people of her clan undergo at 20 that keeps them from aging and disease. While she waits for Miles to come back from death-sleep, she has to hide: Whit’s people are still after her for some unknown reason. She gets closer to locating her kidnapped clan: they are being held captive by “Hunt” Avery, an eccentric billionaire that owns a ranch filled with endangered animals to hunt. While still connecting to the Yara, the spiritual force that guides the planet, Juneau communicates with Tallie, bringing her to help prepare for what will be either a quick battle or a bloody war.
Miles is in the throes of death-sleep. He is fortunate: the bullet was near fatal, but Juneau stopped it and saved his life. However, he had to promise to live the life of one that follows Gaia, nature, and all things of the planet. Miles is no hippie, but what he experiences in his near-death sheds a lot of light on Juneau’s beliefs. When he wakes, he has a new appreciation for her and for her connection to the Yara. But is it a result of Juneau’s Rite, or the drug Amrit that everyone’s been after? He’s unsure, but he knows one thing: he’d follow Juneau anywhere and feels inextricably linked to her. He realizes that he can start to do the things Juneau can: he can sense her feelings, he can read the fire. He can even take out electricity to the electric fences surrounding Juneau’s tribe…
A poignant book about the connections made between man and nature, Until The Beginning explores the theme of social change and technological dependence. Everyone is after Juneau for this miracle drug, but only for profit and self-gain. Juneau doesn’t want that and just wants her family back. But as the lies are stripped away by Whit, she realizes he is just as bad for turning his back on his people and her. He tells her that her beliefs have nothing to do with the Yara and everything to do with the “side effects” of having Amrit in her blood. Is the Yara real? She’s sure she can feel it. But coupled with Miles’ skepticism and Whit’s creation of the drug, Juneau has no idea where she belongs.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Definitely. The concepts of the Yara and Gaia are from a 1970s theory and following called The Gaia Movement. This would make an excellent resource for the classroom. The students can see the Symbiotic relationship between the earth and mankind, and it brings up lots of ethical questions, such as,”How far would you go to get something you want?” Something that would literally give you youth and immortality. There are a lot of good themes here to explore, am I plan on making a lesson plan using the book.
There’s nothing that us objectionable for children to read. I would give this to my niece, who is 12. So I would comfortably say 12 and up. Wasn’t listed on Lexile.com, so I had to guess, and I would think the range is what I’ve suggested.