The ‘After’ Series: The Phenomenon of the Beloved and Hated Fanfiction

With the release of ‘After Ever Happy’ this week, emotions are heightened in the book community as they remember the complexities of Hardin and Tessa’s relationship.

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It has been an exciting week for After lovers like myself as the newest movie After Ever Happy hits theaters only on September 7th and 8th at 7 pm. As this is the fourth movie in the series, it is getting deeper and deeper into Hardin and Tessa’s complicated relationship.

I have been an avid reader, lover, and supporter of the After series since Anna Todd was writing it on Wattpad. I am lucky enough to say I have witnessed the Harry Styles pop punk edits and fan castings. I had to wait for her to publish the next chapter, rereading scenes over and over again just to live in their world a little longer.

I have used After as an escape for as long as I can remember. My books carry the weight of laughs, smiles, tears, and an absurd amount of dog ears. I can’t explain it but when I have an itch to start the series, I can’t put it down until I have read all five.

Now, what makes the After series so controversial?

The love exhibited in this series is undeniably toxic and gut-wrenching. Period.

However, when I think of the drama that ensues over the course of the five books, I have a hard time saying that it isn’t a form of love. Who am I to say what is love? Does it make my head spin and hurt my heart to watch what unfolds? Absolutely. But I have to constantly remind myself that real people experience this kind of back-and-forth, lust-filled relationship every day. I don’t read the novels for the drama, though it is hard to miss. I read it for their connection, small acts of kindness, and indisputable draw towards each other.

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cr. Twitter User @RhiLovesAfter

The struggle that I face with this series I believe many other readers experience. There are some that are outright disgusted and have never read a page. I absolutely respect that; I’ve read the books enough times for myself and 10 others.

Over the years when I began to realize the complexity and controversial nature of the series, I tied my obsessive and compulsive rereading to my childhood. These books have watched me grow for almost 10 years now, they themselves growing from words on a screen to physical copies I could hold in my hand. At times, I’m not even sure what I am reading is good! I just love to know what happens and reread it like I don’t. It connects me to a time in my life when things were simpler and I had the time to wait for the next chapter.

However, that doesn’t mean I gloss over the destructive language and behaviors just because I enjoy some specific scenes. This series has its dark side just as it does its light. If you want to read more about what’s wrong with After click here.

Though I know what this next movie will be about, I am interested to see how the directors and beloved cast highlight this novel’s both hard-to-watch and lovey-dovey moments.

If you were able to catch the release of the fourth film in theaters, I am jealous. If you are like me, waiting to stream After Ever Happy from the comfort of your bed, you can binge-watch the first three films on Netflix, and read more about the new release here!