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After the First Death

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  2,695 Ratings  ·  319 Reviews
Who will be the next to die?They've taken the children. And the son of a general. But that isn't enough.

More horrors must come...
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by Turtleback Books (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 08, 2008 Carrie-anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eighth graders
Shelves: teaching-english
Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, said in an interview with Horn Book Magazine, “Most teenage fiction has an invisible ring of safety built into it. However sticky situations get, however dark the material, little signals here and there give off the message that this is ‘only’ a kids’ book. Don’t worry. Nothing too bad will happen. Things will come right in the end” (Wynne-Jones, 2004, p. 265). Indeed, Curious Incident, though about a teenage protagonist, ...more
Dec 06, 2009 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

After I finished this book I just sat there on the couch for a solid ten minutes not doing anything but thinking. I'm a champion for bleak literature, but I still don't know how to respond to this book. I've never read anything like it. Telling the story of a bus of children taken hostage by terrorists, this book is packed with emotion, but I didn't even know what emotions I was feeling or how to respond to them. Several times I felt punched in the stomach and had to catch my breath. After
Aug 01, 2014 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
But how many times is a person allowed to die?

First published in 1979, After the First Death can be seen as a spiritual precursor to his later novel, Heroes- both are concerned with the same themes: devotion to a cause, courage, fear and guilt, the cost of sacrifice. Both books present them in different ways - Heroes approaches them through the eyes of Francis Cassavant, an 18 year old soldier who has just returned home from World War 2, while After the First Death focuses on a group of terroris
This is not an adventure story, like one might expect of a YA novel. There is great tension but little action as most of the the book deals with the thoughts and emotions of three teens' caught up in a hostage-taking incident -- they are inexperienced, ideological and lacking in forethought, yet expected to function as adults by the adults who are in control.

While this story is told from multiple perspectives, it is a very close third person - sometimes in the head of the teen terrorist, someti
Oct 28, 2013 Josiah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Robert Cormier won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for young-adult literature in 1991, an award that generally cites a specific portion of an author's library of works as deserving of commendation, three of his novels were cited: The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese and After the First Death. But what caused the committee to select these three novels in particular? Why not The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, Beyond the Chocolate War or Fade? Ten years later, would the Margaret A. Edwards committee sti ...more
Rjurik Davidson
Mar 10, 2017 Rjurik Davidson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually give books a 5 star rating. Only for the greatest books, really. This was great. I'm kinda speechless after it. It makes most contemporary YA seem thin and empty by comparison. This is something else.
Sivan N.
Jan 10, 2016 Sivan N. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Who was guilty, then: the monster or the world that created it?"

First off, y'all gotta know, I'm pretty biased towards Robert Cormier because he wrote my fave book so him and I are basically homies.

Okay, first I'm going to talk about some themes within the book. I don't mean like textbook, how-you-learn-in-school, full-sentence themes. I mean looking-up-on-Sparknotes, one-word-themes-that'll-have-to-do-even-though-my-teacher-asked-for-a-full-sentence themes.
So I've recorded some of the themes t
Nov 10, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: i'm not totally sure that i would, their parents might kill me
Woah. I know I just said I was going to go do my homework, but that gorilla-girl book got me thinking about some of the most bizarre and disturbing YA fiction I've ever read, and then of course Robert Cormier popped, guns blazing, into my mind.

The Chocolate War books were intense, but this one was the real doozy!

The images in this book were seared permanently into my brain, and whenever I'm prompted to imagine what it might be like to be held hostage by terrorists -- as I increasingly have been,
Jessica Reid
Nov 19, 2012 Jessica Reid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
Cormier was a genius. His writing is absolutely outstanding and never ceases to amaze me. His books are - in many ways - terrifying and so unflinching in their approach to their topics. This novel deals with terrorists who hijack a school bus.

It's been many years since I first read this novel and it still haunts me. Absolutely incredible.
Ryne Steinacker
Mar 22, 2012 Ryne Steinacker rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
[Note: Spoilers ahead!]

After the First Death is certainly a grim read, and I'm not sure why that suprised me. I don't know WHY I assumed that a book about terrorists and hostage situations would be happier. It was a powerful read, but it was ultimately too disturbing for me to finish.

In the novel, terrorists from an unnamed country hijack a school bus in order to further the liberation of their homeland. Things get complicated when the bus driver (who was supposed to be killed within minutes of
Jul 17, 2013 Bobbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: older boys who like action and are not easily offended, and my husband
Shelves: eng-430
The truth is, I'm not sure how I feel about this book. As I was reading it, I turned page after page - drowning in the words and the action. I felt like I was there. My blood pressure skyrocketed; I felt like I was in one of my all-too-vivid nightmares - and yet, I kept reading. At least I didn't pee my pants...

But then it ended. The ending left me reeling, caught in that no-man's-land between hating and loving, unsure how to feel or what to make of the book. Who was the biggest victim? Who was
Allison Morgan
Oct 13, 2009 Allison Morgan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-420
Genre/Category: Required Reading/Cormier

When two guys in an attempted terrorist move hijack a school bus filled with kids, everything goes downhill from there. People are killed, including a few of the young kids, and justice is not served in the end.

Cormier’s writing was powerful; too powerful. I would never want my writing to affect someone as strongly as his writing did to me, especially in such a dark way. It worries me that teenagers, who may have a harder time differentiating truth from f
Jul 18, 2012 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-356
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2012 Chrissie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit-356
I thought this book was magnificent. It has a twist at the end that will make you want to turn around and read it again, and when you do you will be mystified by the brilliance of Robert Cormier. I was, at least. As I was reading it, I found the narrative of the general's son to be the most interesting. The story of the high jacked bus with the children was, of course, incredibly suspenseful and unpredictable, and I felt that was well done. The character development was very interesting, especia ...more
Cory Hernandez
May 04, 2012 Cory Hernandez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit-eng-356
Holy cow! This book blew my mind! Now I know why Robert Cormier is cherished in the eyes of Young Adult Literature. The book is one that will really make the reader think, which is why I primarily loved the book; it really made me think. The book tells the incredible story of terrorists hijacking a bus of five and six year old children, as well as a young woman who is the bus's driver. The book is told through the eyes of Miro, one of the hijackers, Kate, the bus driver, and Ben, the son of a g ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Eleanor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa-ya
Meh. This might be the point where Robert Cormier and I go our separate ways. It's not you Rob, it's me. I was under the impression that you were the writer of gritty and realistic YA like The Chocolate War, which is one of my favourite novels of all time... but after your debut, I guess your true writing colours (ie: your preference in pretentious "experimentel" framing, language, shifts in tense and... the lot) started to show. I tolerated it in I am The Cheese, but I hated it in Fade and here ...more
Jul 30, 2007 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who like to be kept guessing
Shelves: teen-lit-read
Published first in 1979 (one of my prized books is a signed first HC edition), it reads as if it were a hostage crisis unfolding right before us. A school bus full of kids is taken hostage by young men fighting for their country and religion. There's some major Stockholm syndrome, and some very unsettling plot twists revealed as the book progresses. There's a general in charge of anti terrorist activities, who ends up putting his own son in the hostage takers' paths. All the decisions made by th ...more
Nov 03, 2010 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2014 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2014
In a word, amazing. Perhaps even more relevant today than when it was originally written. There's not much I can say about this one - the book speaks for itself.
Becca Evans
Dec 07, 2016 Becca Evans rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-420

Robert Cormier is a talented writer and story-teller; however, this story was not my favorite (hence the rating). After the First Death is told through multiple narrators, who are all focusing on an event when a school bus full of children was taken hostage by terrorists. Cormier shows us various events through the eyes of one of the younger terrorists, through the eyes of the young bus driver, and through the teenage boy, Ben, the son of military leader
Kara Trammell
CORMIER- Not a happy book. Do not read if you are looking for a pick-me-up. A group of terrorists hijacks a bus full of school children, releases their demands to the army, eventually kill a few of the people that they have kidnapped, and causing much pain to many families and individuals. Cormier is a very talented writer, however, as he has a gift of examining relationships between people, allowing readers to jump into the minds of the perspective of his characters, and creating mental images ...more
Oct 30, 2010 Ash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2013 Tristram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Unpleasant Book – Which is Definitely Worth Reading

It is hard to believe that Robert Cormier wrote “After the First Death” as early as 1979, as you would think the plot was inspired by some of the gruesome events of the last few years, but Cormier’s pessimism was apparently well ahead of its time – if pessimism can ever be that.

Cormier’s fable is terse and yet complex, as it offers us a variety of different perspectives, often changing ones within one paragraph, which makes the novel quite a
May 01, 2012 cat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
If this book didn't capture my attention at some points, it wouldn't excel to two stars. More for personal reasons, truly nothing to do with the writing or the plot, nothing like that. I just couldn't handle the horror of the hijacking, the terrorists' ideas and thoughts, the scared children and even the scared, yet so, so brave bus driver.
I did have mini heart attacks in between chapters and knowing me, that means a book is interesting. Because if it wasn't, I wouldn't waste my time freaking ou
Sep 28, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Definitely one of the darkest and oldest realistic fiction books that I have ever read. And I definitely couldn't have imagined myself reading this book at age 14. In fact, if my future self were to have told me that I'd read a book about hijackings and terrorists and suicide and etc...ya I don't know what I would have said. I feel so safe in realistic fiction books that don't focus on the reality that is our world, so to read a really higher thinking novel like this is an astonishment. The posi ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Paula Soper
Robert Cormier is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read two other novels by him—The Chocolate War and The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, both of which were great. I also enjoyed this novel. While the book appears to be about terrorism and how individuals respond to this, the book discusses deeper, more serious issues about family relationships, love, and duties. The book is carefully crafted and thoroughly explores the relationship between father and son. The language brings the emotions of the charact ...more
Maeve D
Mar 06, 2012 Maeve D rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, action
“After the First Death” by Robert Cormier is a book about a group of terrorists who hijack a bus of children. The main character is the son of the general who is dealing with this issue. His name is Ben. Though Ben is not on the bus he does have a huge part in this issue. There are four terrorists. Miro and Artkin are the main terrorists, but there are also two others. Artkin is somewhat the leader of the group and Miro is his “student.” This is Miro’s first mission. His job is to shoot the bus ...more
Catline Taylor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sexy Liam11
Dec 17, 2013 Sexy Liam11 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After The First Death by Robert Cormier
After the first death was a great book. I enjoyed it so much. I usually dont read books. But this one caught my attention!
The main cheaters are Artkin, Miro, and Kate.
Artkin and miro are terrorist! they take over a school bus and killed a kid. Kate is the bus driver and the kids are her responsibility. But she has no control of what Miro and Artken do. Right when they hijack the bus they drug the kids.They put the drugs in candy and keeped feedings the kid
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Bus hijacking of little kids [s] 8 81 Oct 17, 2014 04:46PM  
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Robert Edmund Cormier (January 17, 1925–November 2, 2000) was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature. His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards. The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries. His books often are concerned with themes ...more
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“The possibility that hope comes out of hopelessness and that the opposite of things carry the seeds of birth - love out of hate, good out of evil. Didn't flowers grow out of dirt?” 46 likes
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