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Afterwar

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They say the war's over when the surrender is signed. It's a lie. America's bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it's supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann's Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there's no such thing as a h They say the war's over when the surrender is signed. It's a lie. America's bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it's supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann's Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there's no such thing as a home to return to. Swann and his crew of partisans work for the Federal Army now, hunting through the wreckage for war criminals and kamp officials. Their next quarry is carrying something explosive, something that can level the nascent Federal government and turn the entire continent into a hellscape- well, more than it already is. Across America, working against time and chaos, Swann's Riders are back in the fight. And Lara, whose secrets may well end up consuming her too, has a vengeance of her own to deliver...


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They say the war's over when the surrender is signed. It's a lie. America's bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it's supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann's Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there's no such thing as a h They say the war's over when the surrender is signed. It's a lie. America's bloody Second Civil War lasted for years. When the surrender is signed, it's supposed to be over; refugees flood the highways, trying to get back home. For Swann's Riders-especially their newest addition Lara Nelson, snatched from certain death in the Firster kamp system-there's no such thing as a home to return to. Swann and his crew of partisans work for the Federal Army now, hunting through the wreckage for war criminals and kamp officials. Their next quarry is carrying something explosive, something that can level the nascent Federal government and turn the entire continent into a hellscape- well, more than it already is. Across America, working against time and chaos, Swann's Riders are back in the fight. And Lara, whose secrets may well end up consuming her too, has a vengeance of her own to deliver...

30 review for Afterwar

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rana

    Fuck. Fuck. Look, I don't often like to compare books but any reference to Handmaid's Tale is legit. This is Handmaid's Tale times a thousand million plus steroids and adrenaline and a fuckton of stupid shitty recent politics. Like, so much so that I almost put it down in the first twenty or so because it was making me nauseous. This book totally needs to come with an actual trigger warning. If you are upset and pissed off about what's going on right now, this book will make you feel really terr Fuck. Fuck. Look, I don't often like to compare books but any reference to Handmaid's Tale is legit. This is Handmaid's Tale times a thousand million plus steroids and adrenaline and a fuckton of stupid shitty recent politics. Like, so much so that I almost put it down in the first twenty or so because it was making me nauseous. This book totally needs to come with an actual trigger warning. If you are upset and pissed off about what's going on right now, this book will make you feel really terrible. To paraphrase that pinnacle of television cinematography, this is fucking ripped from the headlines and ripped from our hearts. No, but seriously. This book is good. It just won't feel good. But it is super, amazing, really really good. Either the world-building was really good, or really bad but guys. GUYS. Every chapter has a two-digit date and despite the floating cars and no paper flimsy stuff, I completely thought that '98 referred to 1998. I mean, I was just like, yeah, shit is terrible now and was probably shitty in 1998 and the author just threw in some magic cars and voila, story. Haha, I am a dunce. I probably got very close to the end before I finally realized that '98 probably referred to 2098. Hahahahaha. But also, seriously again. This book will scare the pants off of you. This was straight horror.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rene

    This was a weird book and I can't quite decide how I feel about it. Second Civil War? Intriguing (and a concept I've played with in my own writing for quite some time). But it was surprisingly hard to read, and not just because of the brutal content. And yes, it's a brutal story...one that takes some odd turns. The story starts in '98, which I assume is 2098, but it's glaringly obvious, like "clobber you in the head from the first chapter" obvious, that the fictional President McCoombs and the Fi This was a weird book and I can't quite decide how I feel about it. Second Civil War? Intriguing (and a concept I've played with in my own writing for quite some time). But it was surprisingly hard to read, and not just because of the brutal content. And yes, it's a brutal story...one that takes some odd turns. The story starts in '98, which I assume is 2098, but it's glaringly obvious, like "clobber you in the head from the first chapter" obvious, that the fictional President McCoombs and the Firsters are heavily influenced by our current president and his supporters; if you're in doubt, there's even a comment about his small hands, I kid you not. I am 100% certain the author intended this to be obvious, and it would be funny if the story itself weren't so grim; influenced heavily by the Nazis and the KKK, these dudes call this place "Amerika" and round people up into concentration camps (they call them "kamps"), where they're starved and experimented on and otherwise brutalized, and often killed in horrible ways. The raiders you'll get to know are members of small teams who go behind the lines and attempt to take these places apart and bring their leaders to justice. It's in one of these places where we find our main protagonist, Lara a.k.a. Spooky. It's also where we find our main antagonist, a horrific excuse for a man named Gene - and, *very importantly*, I should warn here for sexual abuse. Yeah, he's that kind of a-hole. It took a while for the plot to start coming together, at least in my head, and it took a while to feel any connection to the characters (they're complex and diverse and very deftly written, and their bond as both a fighting unit and a sort of second family is beautifully portrayed, but it takes a while to get to their backstories and really get to know them - which, now that I think about it, is exactly how the getting-to-know-you process worked for new characters joining the team). I'm pretty sure I was halfway through the book before things started to come together for me. But by the end, I was rooting for our ragtag team of raiders-turned-family, I had wild reactions when certain people were hurt or killed, and I found the ending low-key yet surprisingly satisfying. So while I can't exactly say I *liked* it, I can say that I'll probably read it again soon, since I'm sure I missed details early on when I was asking myself what the heck was going on. So would I recommend it? Yes, but only if you're in the mood to feel greatly depressed by our political and social climate, yet also oddly hopeful. It's good. It's not happy, but it's good.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James

    A grimmer than hell story about the successful civil war waged against a Trump-clone president(only the name was changed) and his Amerika Firster followers. It includes Koncentration Kamps(K's kome from the KKK), hideous medical experiments, rape, evil Soviets and guerrilla warfare. It's a scary book since a takeover by the religious right and white supremacists is one of the more probable ways that US democracy can fail. One of the main protagonists, Spooky, is a camp and medical experiment sur A grimmer than hell story about the successful civil war waged against a Trump-clone president(only the name was changed) and his Amerika Firster followers. It includes Koncentration Kamps(K's kome from the KKK), hideous medical experiments, rape, evil Soviets and guerrilla warfare. It's a scary book since a takeover by the religious right and white supremacists is one of the more probable ways that US democracy can fail. One of the main protagonists, Spooky, is a camp and medical experiment survivor that developed some strange powers. She and the evil doctor that changed her are both hunted by powers looking to develop super soldiers. I stayed up too late to finish this book, don't start it if you have something that needs doing in your immediate future and keep some happy books or the like on hand. Another tale in a similar vein is Heinlein's Revolt in 2100.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I was so lost as I started this one. I feel like there should have been a summary at the start, to explain what was going on in the world, how the civil war started and the different factions. Without that explanation I felt like as a reader I was left floundering trying to catch up. After 75 pages I realized that I wasn't going to figure things out and not sure that I cared at this point. This one just wasn't for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    DemetraP

    The plot is that America had a second civil war. The book takes place right after the war ends and they have to find war criminals who basically had concentration camps where they killed people and experimented on them. The book is pretty dark with lots of character deaths. It was well written and each character had their own voice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tfalcone

    There was a book I read not too long ago based on the same topic (American War) and I figured I would like this one, but somehow I could not get into the characters.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    A cautionary tale - somehow I can see this happening down the road...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rich Willson

    Heartbreakingly good..

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    I was really looking forward to this book. Many good reviews. But after (50) or so pages, I had to call it quits. In my opinion, it was nothing more than a bashing of our current President. "Amerika First" and Nazi symbolism. The story just did not flow very well. No background, just jumping from spot to spot. But I just did not enjoy the continuous in your face political bashing of what I was hoping was going to be a enjoyable adventurous read. If I want nasty politics, I will just watch the ne I was really looking forward to this book. Many good reviews. But after (50) or so pages, I had to call it quits. In my opinion, it was nothing more than a bashing of our current President. "Amerika First" and Nazi symbolism. The story just did not flow very well. No background, just jumping from spot to spot. But I just did not enjoy the continuous in your face political bashing of what I was hoping was going to be a enjoyable adventurous read. If I want nasty politics, I will just watch the news each night.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul Daniel Ash

    well-crafted war story/quest set in a near future post dystopia I would tagline it as something like Saving Private Ryan meets Handmaid’s Tale but it’s so much more. the characters are all engaging, all revolving around the protagonist, a traumatized woman (CONTENT WARNING: sexual assault) who, interestingly, is really seldom treated as just a “victim.” the storyline is energetic, with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting without overly complicating the plot. worldbuilding is smart and well-crafted war story/quest set in a near future post dystopia I would tagline it as something like Saving Private Ryan meets Handmaid’s Tale but it’s so much more. the characters are all engaging, all revolving around the protagonist, a traumatized woman (CONTENT WARNING: sexual assault) who, interestingly, is really seldom treated as just a “victim.” the storyline is energetic, with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting without overly complicating the plot. worldbuilding is smart and appropriately backgrounded: this is a human tale

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brianpfeiler619

    I would have enjoyed it much more without the blatant comparison to trump.... pretty ridiculous, the author has his “army” boiling people in concentration camps. Lol. When the federal bomb dc for first time some one says” we’ll stop at dc and forget the south we’ll build that wall they wanted, lol pretty cheesy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie McDaniel

    This book was hard to read, and I can only imagine how tough it was to write. It's basically the American politics of today set 80 years in the future, with the widening divide and heightened polarization that has exploded into an all-out Second Civil War. There is eugenics and "Firsters," "kamps" (with all the attendant, Nazi-era horrors) holding "immies" and "partisans," and the last dying gasp of a white-supremacist culture that has been beaten back yet again, as this country seems destined t This book was hard to read, and I can only imagine how tough it was to write. It's basically the American politics of today set 80 years in the future, with the widening divide and heightened polarization that has exploded into an all-out Second Civil War. There is eugenics and "Firsters," "kamps" (with all the attendant, Nazi-era horrors) holding "immies" and "partisans," and the last dying gasp of a white-supremacist culture that has been beaten back yet again, as this country seems destined to do over and over. It's unfortunately all too plausible, and it's scary as hell. This is the story of Swann's Riders, a mercenary team of raiders at the very end of the war, tasked with hunting down a war criminal with information the Russians, among others, are also hot on the trail of. This information concerns genetic and medical experimentation in a certain kamp, with unwilling victims given what amounts to psychic powers, in an attempt to create a deadly new breed of Firster soldier. Our nominal protagonist, Lara Nelson, was also at said kamp, a victim of those experiments. She manages to escape from there, only to land in another kamp, where she is forced to work in the brothel as the favorite of one of the kamp kommanders, Eugene Thomas...the same monster the Riders are now hunting. (We spend a few chapters in Thomas's POV, which was a deeply unpleasant experience. It's chilling how the philosphies of hierarchies and "knowing one's place" inevitably lead to some people being regarded as less human than others, and making the atrocities described here oh so easy.) The fight scenes are brutal; Saintcrow gets right down into the blood and guts and mud, and while that was necessary for this story, just be aware that she pulls no punches. There's a remoteness about many of the characters, a thin veneer of distance from the reader and what the characters suffered, in the writing style. For instance, I wish there could have been a tighter focus on Lara, but at the same time, I don't know if as a reader I could have taken it. This is a harrowing book, even with the sliver of hope at the end, after the Riders have tracked down Thomas and destroyed his information. I wish I could say that something like this couldn't happen here...but unfortunately, I know that's not true.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Manuel Perez

    Ok, the bad first: at times even a liberal like me found the antiTrumpism in the book to be too blatant, too heavy-handed. Then I thought this aren't times for subtleties, so in your face, Trumpers. If the shoe fits and all that. Second complaint: while the background story and the hints the author drops about how things came to be, the time of the war proper and the atrocities the losing side committed are intriguing and horrifying; and the characters are alive and interesting in a lot of diver Ok, the bad first: at times even a liberal like me found the antiTrumpism in the book to be too blatant, too heavy-handed. Then I thought this aren't times for subtleties, so in your face, Trumpers. If the shoe fits and all that. Second complaint: while the background story and the hints the author drops about how things came to be, the time of the war proper and the atrocities the losing side committed are intriguing and horrifying; and the characters are alive and interesting in a lot of diverse ways, the plot itself is kind of... flat. When you take out all the decorations, the story is quite simple and straightforward, although really well told. And now the good, although some of it has already slipped its way while recounting the bad. The writing style (this is the first novel i read from Lilith Saintcrow, not the last certainly) is quite harsh, short and direct; but it befits the story perfectly. The story as I've said early can be a little too straightforward for my taste but it's very well told, and with a cast of memorable characters. But where the book really shines is with the background of the story, the hints about the ascendancy of the far right to power in the US and how it goes to an all-Nazi tyrannical state, secession and war from there is fascinating. And the way Saintcrow weaves all that back-info with the actual, current events of the story is really well done: no lengthy infodumps here to be well placed at the beginning of the story, you have to be patient and wait for the author to give you more and more pieces of the puzzle to have a more or less complete picture at the end of the book. And I never say things like this but, in the rare event Lilith herself reads this review, I'll say it: this book is SCREAMING for a prequel. Practically begging for it. I want to read a 500+ plus novel on how McCoombs came to power, how society started changing prior, during and after his election(s), how the USA went from conservative to nazi, who was the resistance, how the camps came to be, what was the reaction in the rest of the world, etc. God, I'd read that novel right now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Afterwar by Lilith Saintcrow is a powerful dystopian novel about the United States seventy years in the future. The nation has been torn apart by civil war. Ruling from Washington D.C, President McCoombs and the America First party rule with an iron fist. Immigrants are criminals and must be forcibly sterilized. Free speech is repressed. Patriotic displays are mandatory. Failure to show sufficient patriotism will result in punishment. For the worst elements of society, there are the Reklamation Afterwar by Lilith Saintcrow is a powerful dystopian novel about the United States seventy years in the future. The nation has been torn apart by civil war. Ruling from Washington D.C, President McCoombs and the America First party rule with an iron fist. Immigrants are criminals and must be forcibly sterilized. Free speech is repressed. Patriotic displays are mandatory. Failure to show sufficient patriotism will result in punishment. For the worst elements of society, there are the Reklamation Kamps. Fighting against the government are the Federals and the Raiders, guerilla fighters of former citizens. Freeing one Reklamation Kamp, they find most of the captured Raiders had been sent to the killing jars. But one raider had been sent to the brothel. A former medic, Lara, rejoins the Raiders in the fight. But as the war end, it is necessary to search the officials, who committed war crimes. Traumatized by her experiences, Lara might be the key to finding the worst of the criminals, a doctor who performed inhumane experiments on prisoners and children. This is a dystopian fantasy, but there is an underlying truth to it. The reader cannot ignore the similarities to the America First’s hatred for the immigrant, the homosexual, the non-Christian, and others to the rhetoric of the current resident of the White House. Moreover, anyone with any knowledge of US history must connect the darker aspects of history to this bleak future. This strong connection to the present and past of the United States makes this a powerful story. Even the descriptions of places are uncannily accurate. The City of Boise plays a role in the story and Saintcrow captures the city and its attitude perfectly. But ultimately, Saintcrow writes an excellent, exciting story about a group of survivors of war and their struggle to find a better tomorrow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    3.0 out of 5 stars Afterwar is an uncompromising story about a motley crew of raiders who hunt down war criminals after the Second Civil War. The title is a misnomer -- nothing comes after war because war never truly ends. Lilith Saintcrow’s novel explores the scars of war that live on long after a ceasefire has taken place. There are purposeful parallels to present-day America scattered all throughout this book. Supporters of the ruling political party are dubbed “Firsters” who put “America First 3.0 out of 5 stars Afterwar is an uncompromising story about a motley crew of raiders who hunt down war criminals after the Second Civil War. The title is a misnomer -- nothing comes after war because war never truly ends. Lilith Saintcrow’s novel explores the scars of war that live on long after a ceasefire has taken place. There are purposeful parallels to present-day America scattered all throughout this book. Supporters of the ruling political party are dubbed “Firsters” who put “America First,” walls are being built to keep out “immies” (immigrants), and the country is run by a megalomaniac with small hands who bombs his hometown of New York City because the residents there hate him. It’s so on the nose that it became a bit of a distraction when each of these parallels appeared. Unfortunately, I never fully engaged with the story being told, but I appreciated Saintcrow’s prose and the dark future that she presents, regardless of how upsetting (and possible) it all seems. See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andy Polizzi

    A book for our times although it takes place 80 years from now. For some reason the book reminded me of WWII island-hopping movies like Sands of Iwo Jima. There is the requisite tough, gruff but fair leader Swann (John Wayne), the drunken psycho killer raider, the "kid" raider, the darkly mysterious raider, the medic, the officious "regular army" officer who joins the hunt late and everybody hates initially but then come around to respect, the Greek immigrant raider who doubles as the unit's barb A book for our times although it takes place 80 years from now. For some reason the book reminded me of WWII island-hopping movies like Sands of Iwo Jima. There is the requisite tough, gruff but fair leader Swann (John Wayne), the drunken psycho killer raider, the "kid" raider, the darkly mysterious raider, the medic, the officious "regular army" officer who joins the hunt late and everybody hates initially but then come around to respect, the Greek immigrant raider who doubles as the unit's barber, the peripheral raiders who are there usually to just round out the unit, etc. The only difference is that women and minorities occupy half the roles and there's no one from Brooklyn to talk about the "Bums" (William Bendix) and no good ol' boy from Texas who everyone calls "Tex." Not a complaint, just an observation. Room for a sequel, perhaps taking place on the West Coast which has (with the apparent exception of Southern California, which, along with Texas, has rejoined Mexico) seceded from "The Western U.S." and joined Canada. There will always be Firsters and Patriots and jar kaptains to hunt down.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    I could not put this book down, this all-too-possible picture of a near-future America where civil war has brought down the White Supremacist regime and the massive job of liberating concentration camp victims and apprehending war crime perpetrators is beginning. A band of Federal raiders find a Kamp survivor, Lara, who has suffered horrific abuse, including genetic experimentation which has left her with strange powers. The story switches between the raiders' search for war criminals and the es I could not put this book down, this all-too-possible picture of a near-future America where civil war has brought down the White Supremacist regime and the massive job of liberating concentration camp victims and apprehending war crime perpetrators is beginning. A band of Federal raiders find a Kamp survivor, Lara, who has suffered horrific abuse, including genetic experimentation which has left her with strange powers. The story switches between the raiders' search for war criminals and the escape attempts of the Kamp officer who is obsessed with Lara. This is not an easy book to read, with some quite graphic descriptions of sexual abuse and experimentation, and lots of mud and blood, along with the knowledge that this is the way America seems to be heading under the current regime. However I found myself so engaged with the raiders' struggle that I didn't want it to end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    Wasn't really sure what to expect from this alternate history book, it's actually more like speculative fiction about the current regime in the US. I previously had only read her urban fantasy so expected a bit more of a supernatural theme, there is a little spooky genetic engineering going on, well technically War crimes, but for the most part it's a squad performing clean up/mercenary duty in the 'aftermath' of another US civil war. It was good, perhaps not exactly the kind of thing I'd usuall Wasn't really sure what to expect from this alternate history book, it's actually more like speculative fiction about the current regime in the US. I previously had only read her urban fantasy so expected a bit more of a supernatural theme, there is a little spooky genetic engineering going on, well technically War crimes, but for the most part it's a squad performing clean up/mercenary duty in the 'aftermath' of another US civil war. It was good, perhaps not exactly the kind of thing I'd usually read...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sharkie

    Filled with war scenes, combat and rough personalities, Afterwar shows the life and times of soldiers on the front line, and on both sides of the combat. It felt like a slice of life novel from the POV of a tactical squad. This book is very focused on characters, with the plot kinda lacking. You can tell the world is deep and has some really interesting points, but those don't hit the spotlight or resolve itself. Overall, I'm a plot girl, and this book just didn't have enough of that for me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth M

    Thank you Lilith. Holy shit, as if I'm not paranoid enough about the state of the asylum...all of this could happen tomorrow. Despite ranting reading aloud through tears and snot, I couldn't stop reading Afterwar. Actual conversation at our house: My wife asked "Why are you crying about that Arizona asshole for?" " I'm not crying about him! It's this word - 'Marikopa'! " You have to read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Jones

    Not MY Country It's the nightmare that you wake up from in a cold sweat and think to yourself " That could never really happen... right?" Awesome read. Lilith Saintcrow takes her readers on a painful journey across an American landscape inhabited by false equivalency monsters and the destruction wrought by man's cruelty to man.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ginny Machiela

    This book's premise sounded awesome, but it was an underwhelming read for me. The"tough badass" writing style seemed forced, the constant overuse of adjectives was cringe-worthy, and the future war jargon was hard to follow. The story itself had some interesting points but I wouldn't recommend it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    A. J.

    This is one of those books that is great and engaging but I just could not finish because of current events. Too real for me right now, but I'm going to pick it back up later when it doesn't echo quite so much the news feed. The first few chapters I read were brutal but promising.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    *DNF 2/3 Great premise just dragged on and on. The whole thing in its entirety was confusing to me. This book was just not for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Livingston

    Excited for the concept, interested for the first handful of chapters. Then all the characters started blending together and I reached the point of "dear god just let it end."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Pederson

    this book.. lots of parallels with this administration.. white supremacy, misogyny for one. read it already.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

    A little too close to a reality none of us really want.

  28. 5 out of 5

    François Carrière

    Good premise, probably could have developed the Xray angle a bit more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kend

    It's not American War , but I'll forgive you for the confusion. It's also not The Power or Station Eleven , but I'll forgive you those comparisons. This is a book which successfully riffs off of the rising wave of feminist, brutal, war-torn futuristic cli-fi (as steeped thoroughly in social commentary). I mean, I love that wave. It's beautiful. It's great! It's necessary! It's also deeply unpleasant and discomfiting to read. I recommend this book! But not, you know, right before bed or if yo It's not American War , but I'll forgive you for the confusion. It's also not The Power or Station Eleven , but I'll forgive you those comparisons. This is a book which successfully riffs off of the rising wave of feminist, brutal, war-torn futuristic cli-fi (as steeped thoroughly in social commentary). I mean, I love that wave. It's beautiful. It's great! It's necessary! It's also deeply unpleasant and discomfiting to read. I recommend this book! But not, you know, right before bed or if you're already having a bad day or the hard-left Republicans in your state recently unseated a longstanding, semi-benevolent Democrat. Yeah. If that happens, go get yourself a drink first and binge Season 1 of The Good Place first. Do some breathing exercises, bake some cookies, sautee some onions in butter. THEN sit down and mainline your feminist, brutal, war-torn futuristic cli-fi (as steeped thoroughly in social commentary). Afterwar is part of a larger, necessary ecosystem of protest literature, of I'M A FUCKING WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR (CONFLICTEDLY) literature. It has all the voice and style of Heinlein's Starship Troopers , too, which is always a bonus. Just, you know. Moderate doses. Stay healthy, people.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

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