Review: After Math (Off the Subject 01) by Denise Grover Swank

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Scarlett Goodwin’s world is divided into Before and After.

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker Price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him.Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?

My impressions:

I honestly swear I am up to no good. Yes, my friends, I’ve sinned again – one moment of weakness and here you are: I went to Lucimazon (anathema sit!) and bought a New Adult novel just because I was curious and it cost me merely one US dollar. Then, as if I had no better positions on my TBR list, I started to read it. You can guess the outcome – the book was not entirely a hit, featuring some of less pleasant NA characteristic traits. Oh well. As a form of atonement I decided to write a review.

First of all let me tell you that I found the blurb interesting enough and the book started out with a bit of potential, I liked meeting a character which suffered from social anxiety, I appreciated the fact that she liked math and using it she was able to build protective boundaries around herself.

 Still it was surprising that, for an advanced math college student, Scarlett knew pretty little. I got a distinct impression that the author didn’t feel completely comfortable around that topic – we were never told what branch of maths was the closest to Scarlett’s heart, what kind of math problems she liked solving the most, who was her favourite mathematician and/or theory and why. Even while we saw her tutoring Tucker, we never heard her explaining things to him, reasoning or elaborating on this or that problem – not really. It sounded especially spurious if you compare those scenes to the ones with Tucker teaching Scarlett the basics of running – those lessons I found far more believable and concrete. After a while it started to bother me that Scarlett never thought and spoke like avid mathematicians do.

Then there was that strange ‘second boyfriend’ of Scarlett, Daniel and her ‘bff” Caroline. I really didn’t understand why such  characters were featured at all – they didn’t contribute anything to the story. Daniel’s only function consisted of making Tucker jealous from time to time and Scarlett – embarassed. Caroline was there to make Scarlett go out, attend some parties and then shake her head and comment on her love life. They were like two cardboard props, nothing else, soon discarded and forgotten. Oh wait, they may be used in other parts of the series…if you actually care about them. I admit I don’t.

The pace of the narration was nice but a bit predictable, so typical for all NA books I’ve read so far. The constant roundabout of: “they meet because they are forced to do so, they speak a bit, they fall in love, they speak more, they go to bed, they quarrel, they go to bed, they quarrel and make up and go to bed” is really anything but original. Funny thing, the narrative voice of Tucker, a badass football rising star, sounded sometimes so very close to a narrative voice of a girl; mind you the book is told in 1st limited person, from Scarlett’s POV – weird indeed. A positive remark – Tucker was not a controlling, overbearing jerk. He was just a jerk. Still, with NA books, you should be thankful for small graces.

Finally let me add something about that little note from the author you might find at the end of this and many other books as well. Here is the direct quote:

“If you enjoyed AFTER MATH please consider leaving a review and recommending it to your friends.”

Such a short, innocent sentence and somehow it can always make me more or less annoyed, pressing the wrong set of buttons. In my view Ms. Grover Swank (or any other author who includes it) hereby informs her customers and readers that she enjoys hearing only good opinion about the novel in question and if somebody has any negative feedback, no matter whether the critique is deserved or not, they should shut up and disappear from the universe…Excuse me? Are you really an adult writer?

Correct me if I am mistaken but it seems that such authors want to create a protective circle of mutual appreciation, full of starry-eyed fans, around their less-than-averagely-good work (my skewed opinion only of course but a good novel would defend itself, right?) so no unpleasantness can permeate inside and reach their sensitive ears. How very Young Adult of you. With the emphasis on ‘Young’.

No final verdict this time – I don’t feel it is necessary.

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5 Responses to Review: After Math (Off the Subject 01) by Denise Grover Swank

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Not NA!

  2. LOL, I know. I promise to behave from now on.

  3. red witch says:

    "I honestly swear I am up to no good." I think that should be 'solemnly'. You solemnly swear that you are up to no good. What is NA?

  4. LOL I didn't want to repeat that HP quote but you are perfectly right – it should be 'solemnly'. NA = New Adult. Some publishers want us to believe that it is a new genre when really it isn't. If you want to know more – I've written an essay about it some time ago – here is the link .

  5. I like the idea of a heroine who does "maths," as the Brits say, but it sounds like the author did zero research into actual math. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazyyyyyyyyyy.

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