After the End

AftertheEndTitle: After the End
Author: Alex Kidwell
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link:  Buy Link After the End
Genre: contemporary
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Andrea

Review Summary: A sentimental and emotional tale of a man accepting the loss of his partner and choosing to move forward. Emotional and sentimental aren’t my thing so it wasn’t a good choice for me.


After Quinn O’Malley loses his partner of ten years, Aaron, to cancer, he withdraws from everything. In a single tragic moment, he goes from an artist with a loving partner and a future to an uninspired comic book store owner who barely exists. He hides behind a shield of grief, refusing to let Aaron go. He feels guilty for even trying to imagine a life apart from what he’d had.

The charming party planner Quinn’s best friend insists he meet on a blind date isn’t someone he’s ready for. Brady Banner walks into Quinn’s small frozen world and turns everything upside down. For years, Quinn has focused on endings, but as Brady begins to thaw his existence, Quinn realizes that one moment can do more than stop a life—it can also start a new one.


I think this book is best described as sentimental, melancholy and sweet. I can see why it has such high ratings. This book would be a good choice for readers who like that sort of thing. It’s not what I enjoy reading, so this wasn’t the book for me.

Quinn lost his partner, Aaron, two years ago. Quinn basically stopped living when Aaron died. When the book begins, he is going through the motions of life but he’s lost interest. I would describe him as being clinically depressed and in desperate need of some therapy and antidepressants. Anyway, his friend Tracy keeps pushing him to move on and sets him up on a blind date with Brady. Brady is funny, charming, kind and thoughtful.  Brady is a great guy, and I liked him.  He must see something in Quinn that I didn’t, because Brady continues to pursue Quinn despite having to compete with the dead partner. Really, the dead partner is almost another character in the book. Aaron is never alive during any part of the book, but he has a huge presence because he is constantly in Quinn’s thoughts.

I understand why so many readers liked this book. The characters and the story are well developed. The secondary characters are even good. I enjoyed Anna and Tracy and thought it was wonderful to see a happily married lesbian couple. At first I even liked how the couples were always holding hands or kissing in public. I’ve come to expect some situational awareness and response to it, but that was never part of their thought process. As the book went on, the lack of it started to feel unrealistic and that bothered me.

The biggest issue I had with this book was that I didn’t like all the emotions. The characters kept talking about their feelings with each other, and Quinn was constantly crying or having an emotional breakdown. I quickly went from feeling compassionate toward him to being annoyed by him. Then came the point where Quinn suddenly decided it’s okay to live again. The period of deep depression ends and the romance takes off. After that, the book was too sweet and romantic for me to enjoy. Every kiss was monumental and every sexual encounter was awe inspiring. I can’t understand that. Hell, I don’t even believe it’s possible. :sceptic:  I guess the bottom line is that I wasn’t feeling the love or passion between them.

If you love sentimental and sweet, this is a book I think you’ll enjoy. If you’re like me, and that’s not your thing, you probably want to pass on it.



  • I like your review Andrea. I find that a reviewer’s emotional reactions to a story always give me the best idea whether the story is going to be for me. I would prefer that to a falsely inflated rating based on editing and other writing techniques, and completely ignoring how the reader felt.

  • I enjoyed this book very much. I think it’s unfair to review a genre that you admittedly dislike and give it a poor rating. That’s like reviewing a m/m book and then giving a poor rating because you think gay sex is icky.

    Was the writing bad? Were the characters poorly developed? Were there glaring plot holes?

    My only criticism of this book was, as you mentioned, the PDA without a second thought or concern. While that would be ok in a perfect world, that is not the world we live in.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by disliking this genre. I dislike sweet and emotional. I seem to find them sprinkled throughout every genre.

      I’m not going to give a great rating to a book I didn’t love. The best I could do was explain the reasoning behind my rating. I realize what I didn’t like will be exactly what some readers will love, which is why I put it right up front.

      • The ‘genre’ being sweet and emotional. Some readers are going to look at the 2.75 rating and think ‘this is not a very good book’, when in actuality, the reviewer just doesn’t like this kind of story and would probably never rate a sweet and emotional story any higher. IMO, it does readers and authors a disservice to review books you are predisposed to dislike.

        • It’s not like I was reading a book clearly classified as sci-fi and then saying I don’t like sci-fi. As much as I wish they would, publishers don’t label their books as being emotional/sweet or emotional/dark.

          I’ve seen others say they use reviews to weed out the overly angsty books. I use reviews to help me weed out the sweet books and steer me toward the darker ones. That’s exactly why I read the reviews, to get a bit more information than the blurb provides and then use that to decide if it’s a book I’ll enjoy. I would even say that a lot of times the critical reviews are more helpful to me than the glowing reviews.

          • I actually never heard of genre being sweet and emotional, I know that there are sweet romances which sometimes are marked as such and sometimes not. However as far as I know sweet romances usually mean romances with no explicit sex, right?

            I also do not see a problem with bringing how you felt about the book into review. Honestly, for me it is hard to write a review otherwise – without describing how I felt. And you let the other readers know that characters are well developed, writing is good, etc, so readers would know that as long as they like sweet and emotional stuff they are likely to enjoy the book.

            I am definitely checking it out, thanks Andrea.

            I also want to add that not only it is impossible to predict whether your favorite subgenre or genre may disappoint you, but the writer you specifically picked up hoping for a great read may not give you that.

      • I agree with you, Andrea. In fact, since a review states an opinion (ONE opinion, no more, no less) how you feel about a particular book is going to influence your rating no matter what. Balancing a low rating with giving credit to good writing etc. looks reasonable to me.

        Besides, I loved this book; I found it well-written, poignant and sweet and JUST what I needed at the time I read it. :yes: :yes:

  • I love sentimental and sweet! I am only 25% into this book, just started it last night. but I like Brady’s and Quinn’s PDA. I can’t wait to get to the point when Quinn decides its OK to live again.

  • I loved this book. I thought Chapter 5, when Quinn’s grief is finally thawing, was brilliant. I love angsty, emotional books so it worked for me. You’ve written a very fair review, saying it wasn’t your thing.


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