Book review: After We Collided by Anna Todd

After We Collided, the second book in the After series, is a slow train wreck, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense. I mean it’s a story in which I know something bad is going to happen, and yet I can’t look away. But actually, it may be more accurate to say the book is a series of slow train wrecks, as it is a very long story with several smaller disasters for Hardin and Tessa to alternately create and then overcome. I must be a sucker for reading about these kinds of disastrous relationships because while book hunting around town, I picked up a spin off featuring a side character whose relationship had seemed so stable as seen through Tessa’s eyes, and the prospect of that story turning into another train wreck had me running to the cashier with ridiculous enthusiasm.

In this second installment in the series, Tessa is often just as responsible for the friction in her relationship with Hardin. But I’m perhaps getting ahead of myself. After the first book ended with Hardin and Tessa seemingly separated for good, Tessa attends a book convention in Seattle as part of her internship working for Vance, and after a night out on the town, she drunks dials Hardin, who of course comes running to see her. This encounter ends about as well as I expected, but it does get them back on a path to becoming a couple again.

Their relationship is never going to win the feminism seal of approval for totally healthy relationships. Hardin is a jealous jerk with a tendency to speak first and think later, and Tessa has a few really dumb moments, usually inspired by drinking more and thinking less. Alcohol plays a big role in a lot of their mistakes, which is sorta hypocritical given the histories of both their fathers. But the kids of alcoholics statistically do have more problems with alcohol, so I’m not saying it’s unrealistic, just hypocritical.

There’s also a sloppy triangle romance with Zed still trying to win Tessa, but while Tessa seems not to notice that he’s just interested in getting in her panties, I had the dude pegged as a jerk even before the end of the first book. So when he steps in to create more friction between Hardin and Tessa, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Let’s see, what else? Tessa’s mother is still a self-centered asshole, Hardin’s father is still bending over backwards to try and make things right with Hardin, with little success, Landon is still Landon…oh, and Hardin’s mother has a new man in her life. But enough about the side stories, let’s get back to the train wrecks.

The real eye rolling mistake is on Hardin, who leaves the country over the dumbest reason imaginable, and when he finally decides to come back home, it’s damned near too late for him to fix his fuck up. During this last part of the story, Tessa is given a big opportunity to work with Vance by moving to Seattle, but she neglects mentioning this to Hardin, who still has plans to return to London. This is likely to be the first train wreck of the next book.

Or not, because the very last page of the story ends on a cliffhanger moment that could also be the next source of conflict for Tessa and Hardin. I can’t be sure of what these two will freak out over, but I can say for certain that I’ll be down for another installment in their messy misadventures.

I give After We Collided 4 stars, although I’m not quite sure who I’d recommend it for. In fact, I’ve got it categorized as romance, and I’m not even sure that’s the right box to fit this mess into. But I know I liked it, and I know I can’t wait to dig into the sequel.