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Book Review & Giveaway: After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

Title: After Obsession

Author: Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Horror, Speculative Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury (US & UK)
Publication Date: September 2011 (US & UK)
Hardcover: 320 Pages

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can’t stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They’re wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it’s neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It’s Alan’s cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.

Stand alone or series: Can be read as a stand alone (but with potential for future books in a series)

How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher at BEA

Why did I read this book: I have mixed feelings towards Carrie Jones’s work. I have read and enjoyed the first two books in her Need series because the actual storylines are fantastic. The only reason I’m behind on finishing Entice is because while I enjoy the storytelling, the actual writing (especially dialogue and characterizations) tends to feel a bit too…simple for my tastes. That said, when I saw After Obsession at BEA this year, I was drawn to the novel because of the dual authors and the promising possession/exorcism/horror-type premise.


Aimee has always been a little different. Beautiful but withdrawn, Aimee has the ability to heal with her touch, and has frightening premonitions when she dreams. Though her gifts run strong, Aimee hides and pushes away her abilities for fear of ending up like her mother, who had similar powers but was consumed by madness, drowning herself in the river. While the loss of her mother leaves a huge hole in her family, Aimee struggles to maintain the balance of normalcy with her younger brother and grandfather while her father works longer and longer hours. Things are even worse when her best friend Courtney’s father is lost at sea, and certainly dead. Courtney is devastated by the loss and hasn’t been acting the same ever since…but Aimee chalks up her strange behavior to grief and does her best to be there for her best friend.

The loss of Courtney’s father throws another pair of lives into a tailspin. Along with his mother, Alan leaves Oklahoma (and a likely athletic scholarship) behind to live with his aunt and cousin Courtney. Frustrated by his new school and its lack of a football team, Alan finds it hard to fit in – especially considering that in this insular New England town, his large frame and strong Navajo features stick out like a sore thumb. Then, Alan begins to notice that something is off about his cousin Courtney and her mood swings – he has his own supernatural gifts, inherited through his Navajo father and ancestors, and he knows that something much more sinister is at hand.

Something is wrong in Goffstown; an ancient evil stirs beneath the glassy surface of its cold river. It is up to Aimee and Alan, with their supernatural abilities, to figure out what is the source of Courtney’s sickness, and how to stop it before it destroys her.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this book – the title, cover, and my experience with Carrie Jones’s pixie books suggest paranormal romancey YA. In fact, After Obsession is a good old fashioned small town horror story – complete with requisite creepy Maine township setting, an ancient evil that pervades into said creepy town’s hush-hush history, and even a nasty case of demonic possession (complete with exorcism, naturally). Narrated in alternating chapters following Aimee and Alan’s viewpoints (I’m assuming that Carrie Jones wrote Aimee’s chapters, while Steven Wedel handled Alan’s), After Obsession is executed smoothly, blending both narrative voices nicely while the story builds to its climactic supernatural showdown. I loved the idea of the novel and certain parts of it were effective, spine-tingly fun, including a maleficent spirit hovering by Courtney’s room, physical infestation (Courtney undergoes the usual possession signs of speaking in tongues, displaying supernatural strength, physical deterioration, all that jazz). The ominous figure of the “River Man” is a good a bogeyman as any, and as he situates his insidious agenda on the town, causing people to become violent and cruel, the tension grows.

There was, unfortunately, a level of hokiness to the writing that jars one’s reading experience – especially considering the novel is trying to build an atmosphere of terror and foreboding. Also questionable is how quickly Aimee and Alan reveal their deepest secrets (of their supernatural abilities), and how easily the both of them jump to the “Oh, well it MUST be demonic possession!” conclusion without any real investigation or discussion (i.e. Alan diagnoses Courtney’s demonic affliction after a detailed study of interwebs). I was also not so impressed with how quickly our two protagonists fall in love, or that there was a romance subplot in the first place. It’s so…predictable, isn’t it? Beyond the triteness of our hero and heroine getting all insta-connected and goo-goo eyed at each other, their romance is strangely devoid of any spark. There’s a lot of buildup to a single kiss and for much of the novel Alan is kissing the top of Aimee’s head (which strikes me as familial, not so sexy-timey).

Far more interesting, at least to me, was how these characters were developed individually. While Aimee’s powers are somewhat undefined (other than she can kinda see/dream about future things, and she gets a tingly sensation when she shakes hands and can effectively heal people), I loved her inner turmoil with her mother’s memory. Since her mother shared the same abilities, Aimee fears that if she uses her gifts, she, too, will become “crazy” and suicidal. Through gradually revealed memories and as she learns more about the evil that plagues Courtney, however, Aimee learns that her mother may not have been crazy and suicidal after all. While Aimee is a strong protagonist, it is Alan that steals the show – I loved his struggle to carve out his own cultural and spiritual identity, even though he faces dismissive comments from his (white) mother and jibes from his (also white) classmates. Mr. Wedel, a newcomer to YA fiction, does a fantastic job of nailing Alan’s feelings of anger and alienation, and I appreciated that the novel isn’t afraid to show some of the uglier, more racist elements present (especially in small town, predominantly whitebread America). Never having known his father, Alan still tries to connect with his Navajo father’s heritage, reading books, searching online for information, even performing his own vision quest and receiving a spirit guide. The blend of Alan’s powers with Aimee’s is a well-crafted balance, and I love the inclusion of Navajo myth and legend in After Obsession (especially considering that most possession stories are usually of the white Catholic bend).

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed After Obsession and look forward to more from the Jones-Wedel writing team – because there’s gotta be a sequel, right? Recommended.

Notable Quotes/Parts: You can check out the Google Preview of the book HERE.

Additional Thoughts: You can check out the official trailer and learn more about After Obsession by visiting Bloomsbury’s Facebook Page.

Rating: 6 – Good, actually leaning more towards a 7

Reading Next: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick


Courtesy of the publisher, we have one ARC of After Obsession up for grabs! The contest is open to US street addresses ONLY and will run until Saturday, September 17 at 11:59PM (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here telling us which possession book or film is your favorite. Only one entry per person, please! Multiple comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!


Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, & sony

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  • Stella
    September 15, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Uh, Thea, I think you got the series info on this one wrong…

  • Ana
    September 15, 2011 at 12:41 am

    😳 Thanks Stella! Fixed.

  • Martha M.
    September 15, 2011 at 1:14 am

    My favorite possession has to be The Exorcist! I have watched it a zillion times and it still creeps
    me out everytime I watch it.

  • thuy
    September 15, 2011 at 1:25 am

    I don’t really have a favorite but I do like the denzel Washington movie fallen. Super creepy.

  • Susan Laura
    September 15, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Christine by Stephen King

  • Mandi Venard
    September 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

    My favorite has to be The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.

  • heather
    September 15, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I’ll go with “A Certain Slant of Light” by Laura Whitcomb, which is more lovely than scary.

  • Gillian Chisom
    September 15, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I’m not a huge possession fan usually, because I’m a little bit of a wimp, but I just read Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton and loved it! Also, this is my first time commenting here, so thanks for the great reviews! I always look forward to reading them!

  • Adam
    September 15, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Congratulations on your BBAW win!

  • Thea
    September 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Whoops, template control error! Thanks for the heads up, Stella (and Ana, for fixing while I was away). And loving all the possession story picks, everyone!

  • MarieC
    September 15, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Okay, so this is corny, but I favorite possession film is “All of Me” with Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Great comedy.

  • Heidi
    September 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

    My favorite possession novel would have to be Song of Susannah by Stephen King from his Dark Tower series.

  • ThisViewOfMine
    September 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Does the tv show True Blood count? If not, im secounding Heahter’s pick, ‘A Certain Slant Of Light’.

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    September 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

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  • Carla
    September 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    the cover for this book is literally so ridiculous that i dont think i can make myself read it.

  • Vanessa
    September 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I have to say The Haunting of Alaziabel Cray by Chris Wooding.

  • Emily Lehmann
    September 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    The Exorcist, it’s a classic!

  • latisha depoortere
    September 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I don’t know many I like Demon’s Lexicon I really want to read this book thank you for the great giveaway!
    tishajean@ charter.net

  • Chris Bails
    September 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I think the best possession movie is a tough choice. I loved Paranormal Activity. The lady got possessed by the ghost. That movie scared the crap out of me. I am not good with scary movies and I covered my face a lot during that movie. Loved the 2nd movie also. This October they are bringing out the Paranormal Activity 3.
    This book looks great and would love to win. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    September 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I love Stephen King’s Christine. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

  • Elizabeth
    September 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Hi, I love Carrie Jones and can’t wait to read this book!! I would say my favorite possession movie is Stigmata. I haven’t read a possession book yet but I think this book would be a great start!

  • Jen
    September 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Um the only possession book I can remember having ever read is The Demon’s Lexicon, by Sara Rees Brennan. :mrgreen:

  • Patsy Hagen
    September 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    My favorite possession movie is Carrie. I don’t have a favorite possession book.

  • Stephanie K.
    September 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    My favorite possession book is The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.

  • SaraC
    September 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I’m usually terrified of possession stories/movies, but I’m willing ot give this book a go!

  • Van P.
    September 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Would love to read this! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    September 16, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Okay, this may be weird- and it’s totally out of character for me- but my favorite possession film is “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” I think it’s because the actress who plays Emily is so fantastic.

  • Jen B.
    September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I have to go with a classic. The Exorcist is still amazing. I also really enjoyed Paranormal Activity. I saw it when it first came out and I was with a really great audience. I just don’t think it will stand the test of time like The Exorcist!

  • SwiftScribbler
    September 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Totally on board with Lindsey Elizabeth–I don’t even like horror movies, but I loved the Exorcism of Emily Rose!

  • Audra Holtwick
    September 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

    i don’t enjoy horror movies- i love Supernatural and Haven

  • Adrienne
    September 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Favorite possession story.. I’m going to go out on a limb here and state Tales of the Body Thief by Ann Rice….I read the book so long ago but it has stuck with me all these years. It was one of the last great books of that series and then after that it went down hill in a basket from hell 😯

    Thanks for the give away!

  • Jill
    September 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I’m just getting into possession stories and haven’t read/watched a ton, but I really loved “Splendor Falls” by Rosemary Clement-Moore (it’s kinda got some possession-y moments).

  • Ash
    September 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I think my favorite is Possess by Gretchen McNeil, great read! πŸ˜€

  • Scribe Kira
    September 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    the demon’s lexicon

  • Donna S
    September 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    The Showtime movie called Possession was one of the best I have seen.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  • Heather
    September 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve really never read a possession book before! So I’ll have to opt for The Exorcist. Creeeepppy.

  • Bethie
    September 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Jessy
    September 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I loved the demon’s lexicon

  • Morgan
    September 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Favorite movie involving possession would have to be Constantine with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz.

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