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Jess, Witchford Wonders Carnegie

After the Fire

‘After the Fire’ is set in modern day Texas, USA. Its about a girl named Moonbeam, who is seventeen years old. The story line swaps between her “before” life, and her “after” one. “Before” she is trapped inside a religious cult called the God’s legion. Here she and the other members are controlled by their leader, the prophet Father John. “After” she is inside a rehabilitation centre in the aftermath of the fire that allowed her to escape. In the “after” sections of the book, Moonbeam is suffering from trauma. As we read through the story we slowly begin to understand why she is in the state that she is in. We gain this insight from her memories of the God’s legion compound before she was rescued. Inside the compound, Father John rules the lives of the followers of the cult. He uses force and supposed holy messages to make rules and ensure that the followers obey him. All members are utterly convinced that father John is a messenger of God’s word, and that’s why they follow him so unquestioningly. But members of the community begin to lose faith, and trouble unfolds.
I really liked ‘After the Fire’ because of the way that Hill gives us only tiny bits of information about Moonbeam’s life “before” in small amounts, by swapping between before and after. This is effective because it adds to the tension of the story, because the reader doesn’t know what’s going to happen next or what twists the plot is going to take. This makes the story seem more real because Moonbeam would feel very tense and nervous about sharing her experience within the compound. The book also helped me imagine what life inside cults must be like, as the description is very vivid, and the characters very powerful, especially father John’s character. He is portrayed as a very threatening individual, and all the other members of the cult are intimidated by him. I could see how, because they were so frightened of him, the cult members would follow his lead.
I think this book would be suitable for readers aged 13 and above, because it contains themes such as violence, manipulation and sexual references. The narrative has cultural and religious references which explore a completely different culture to ours.

Posted on: 8th May 2018 at 09:03 pm

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