I sometimes participate in Weekend Writing Warriors, a challenge in which authors post 8-10 sentences of a writing project. I enjoy reading what others are writing in my genre, currently YA fantasy.
Imagine my delight when I read this excerpt from Joyce Scarborough’s After Me.
When last we left Jada, our dead heroine, her Afterlife Advisor had just explained that the Afterlife Admissions department was reserved for people who had no sense of humor when they were alive. Flo was just about to check Jada’s account in the LIFESCORE 6.2® program. We pick up as she discovers an unfortunate snafu.
And the excerpt:
“Okay, so what’s my assignment, scrubbing floors for being a slob while I was alive?”
Flo looked at her monitor and said, “No, I’m afraid you won’t be staying with us at all, because there’s an administrative hold on your account.”
“A hold—who put it there?”
One of her eyebrows went up and she said, “It’s an administrative hold, so do you really need an answer to that question?”
“Okay, fine,” I said, “so what does it mean exactly?”
“It means, Miss Gayle, that in order to clear your account, you’ll have to serve time as a Transdead Trustee back on Earth.” She typed something else then said, “I’ll print out your instructions and answer any questions you may have before you’re sent back.”
“Sent back?” I sat up in my chair and leaned forward to say, “You mean I get to stay alive?”
“Not exactly, you’ll be among the living and will appear to be one of them, but you won’t be alive, per se.”
That snippet was enough to hook me. I immediately bought the Kindle eBook and began reading. It is definitely one of the funniest and most original stories I’ve read in a long time. Also one of the darkest.
SPOILER ALERT: if you do not want additional plot points revealed, scroll down to the last two paragraphs.
Jada was killed by a sexual predator who lured her on the internet. Her afterlife assignment is to go back to earth under a new identity, find her murderer, and take him out. She is also permitted to do the same to any other predators she comes across.
After Me makes an excellent case against girls bantering sexually online. It scores high points with me for that reason, but I wish it went one step further.
Jada died a virgin, and never had a boyfriend in real life. As Transdead Trustee Gwen, her new identity is a formerly homeless prostitute, taken in by new foster parents. She attends high school and has a crush on Lew that gets serious very fast, and she wants to consummate it. She doesn’t, only because Lew draws back, thinking Gwen is reluctant. Afterward, Gwen tells herself it would be wrong to sleep with Lew, because when she completes her mission she will enter the Afterlife, leaving him with the pain of wondering why she abandoned him. That’s a good reason.
But as a Christian, I wish at least one of the characters had declined because they weren’t married.
I also have a problem with the vigilantism, although a case could be made that the killings were self-defense.
That said, I definitely recommend After Me. It’s a highly entertaining cautionary tale told with humor and imagination.
Have you read After Me? Do you think you will? Share your thoughts in the comments.