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After the Woods

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Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2016

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About the author

Kim Savage

3 books356 followers
KIM SAVAGE is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods (Kirkus, Booklist starred), Beautiful Broken Girls (Kirkus star, Kirkus 10 Best YA of 2017), and In Her Skin (YALSA Best YA 2019), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim's stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn't.  

You can follow Kim on Insta (kimsavagewrites) and Twitter (khsavage), and visit her at kimsavage.me. 

Please send letters care of FSG at:

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

To request an interview or an appearance at an event, please e-mail her publicist Morgan Dubin at Morgan.Dubin@macmillan.com.

For all other inquiries, please contact Kim’s literary agent, Sara Crowe, scrowe@pippinproperties.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 545 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,989 reviews298k followers
March 5, 2016
I become very still, trying to make myself shapeless so he’ll forget I am a GIRL, because that feels the most dangerous of all.

4 1/2 stars. After the Woods is a really strong debut. It's a taut, psychological thriller that is more about intricate relationships and family secrets than it is a "whodunnit?"

The premise of "two girls go into a wood" sounds all too familiar, and yet this book pulls away from the rest of the pile, standing out as one of the best YA thrillers I've ever read. Mostly because it uncovers the mysteries lying beneath the surface of people, delving deep inside teen girl friendships, mother/daughter dynamics and Julia's introspection as she deals with being both a victim and a heroine.

One year ago, Julia and Liv were attacked by a man while running in the woods. It seems he initially wanted Liv, but settled for Julia when an act of bravery or instinct caused her to take her friend's place. Eventually, she got away and Donald Jessup was arrested, but the effects of that day will linger for a long time afterward.

Julia is still dealing with the fear and the nightmares. And, more than that, she's dealing with a sense that something isn't quite all it seems. When a dead body is found in the same woods, she promises an interview to a local reporter in exchange for information.
Statistically speaking, girls like me don’t come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us.

As more is uncovered, Julia starts to question her memories, what really happened, and whether Liv knows something more than she's said. It's beautifully-written and tightly-plotted, ensuring that even the most astute mystery readers will be surprised, but it also offers up a wonderfully-conceived portrait of family and friendship to make After the Woods way more than a typical mystery.

And the truly unsettling notion this novel leaves us with is that the psychopath who kidnaps teen girls in the woods might not be the worst monster in this story.

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Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
March 29, 2016
I read about half of this and wasn't enjoying it so I just skipped and read the last chapter to know what happened.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
March 7, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

When they found me alive
the reporters called it

Julia and Liv go into the woods for a jog one evening. But it didn't turn out as they had planned.


They get attacked by a man, he has Liv penned and Julia takes it upon herself to try to help her friend. She gets hurt in the process and her friend runs away....

Not everything is as it seems in this book. I thought the mystery was very good, I couldn't put the book down until I knew what really happened.

Julia was finally found when she got away from her capture (Donald Jessup). She was found and helped by a lonely biker. And now she suffers from PTSD and starts to remember things slowly, just out of the blue.

A fallen tree, like the husk of a giant dead insect. I press my body inside. Rot snags my hair and scrapes my back. I tell myself I itch not from beetles or millipedes or pill bugs or any other insect that lives in this log, and there are worse things. Hours pass as I listen for a twig snap or the suction sound of boots in the mud. Black turns to purple. It is time to run.

There is so much to this story! Julia is going to therapy of course and trying to get on with her life. Liv is acting very strange. There is really something wrong with her, but I can't tell you what it is.

Julia befriends a reporter, Paula, who helps her find some things out. It's almost like they blackmail each other, but Paula is really nice and helps out a lot.

Julia also starts to like a sweet boy named Kellan. Well he's sweet to Julia, but he was a bit of a player before hand. And they do have a connection.

Liv is with some douche that is a really bad dude. I didn't like her for a lot of the book and I'm still not sure I like her. I understand "some" things when I found out, but it was just too much.

Then they find another girl's body in the woods and of course this freaks Julia out, she has to know if they are connected and I wish someone would get with me and tell me about that part because I have missed something. It's like there was nothing ever said about her, so I don't know.

Overall, I really liked the book and was appalled at the ending. I also love the book cover, even the back of the book is beautiful.
Profile Image for Erin Dunn.
Author 3 books88 followers
March 31, 2016

I've been dying to get my hands on this baby since I first saw it pop up on Goodreads. From page one of After the Woods I was really invested in the story. It's such a compelling book and the whole time I was desperate to know what actually happened in the woods.

Let me just say that while I loved the book, I didn't like anyone in the book. This isn't a book where you love the characters, this is a book where you get swept up into the story and the mystery. You are not required to like the characters in order to read and enjoy this one. That being said, although I didn't like Julia I do think she is a kick ass heroine. Which I love and hey, not all heroines have to be perfect. It's a nice break from perfect or close to perfect YA main characters actually.

I was so completely immersed in After the Woods from beginning to end. The thing I enjoyed most about the book, other than how captivating it is, is how it stayed true to the genre, but still had a few surprises. I just LOVE a well done mystery/thriller and After the Woods is not just about two girls getting attacked in the woods. Oh no, this goes beyond that and takes an unexpected turn. Gotta love that!

Overall After the Woods is damn near perfect. My rating is 4 stars, but really 4.5 would more appropriate. It's wonderfully written and I always love it when a mystery has a few twists that you don't guess!

I recommend After the Woods for anyone looking for a gripping YA mystery/thriller filled with some familiar tropes and a few twists to keep it interesting.

Profile Image for Rose.
1,878 reviews1,065 followers
March 8, 2016
Initial reaction: I might be the minority opinion on this one, but despite an interesting protagonist and beginning with intriguing details, the presentation of this mystery was severely disorganized and lacking for what it was trying to do. It took tangents that didn't really gel with the overarching story, and somehow I felt all the characters save for Julia were stereotypes. I feel like the ending was obvious and forced.

Full review:

Hoo-boy. :( I'm kind of struggling in the aftermath of reading this book because I went into it liking the intrigue of it and the protagonist's voice, but by the time I reached the end, I was glad to be finished with it. I think my biggest problem with Kim Savage's "After the Woods" is that it, logically, doesn't make a bit of sense for a mystery or for the story presentation, even comes across as a bit offensive with how it tries to haphazardly divert attention from the main story and then loops back around to try to throw a few twists without much expansion to reach its ending and respective culprit. Granted, I know what it was trying to do, I know what it was going for, but it was a mess for execution and could've been so much better with tying details together and for overarching character development.

The base of the story involves the plight of Julia and Liv, two girls who were left in a harrowing encounter in the nearby woods. Julia ends up shoving Liv out of the way, allowing Liv to escape, but Julia ends up in a two day ordeal escaping from her would-be captor. Julia has a spotty memory from the trauma, even PTSD (which really would've been interesting if it was actually explored - sadly, not so much. I feel like many citations of mental illnesses got kicked to the curb for expansion in this book, but yet they're used as justification for some of the events that happened.)

I'll say this to give a big hint about the book without necessarily citing spoilers, if you think this is a story about Julia's experiences and grief, you will likely be sorely disappointed in this book. Yet Julia was the only character I really cared about in this book because of the lack of flesh of the surrounding cast of characters. Some of them were interesting, I'll admit, but I didn't really feel like I was ever immersed in their motivations and some just came across as glaring stereotypes (i.e. Alice). There were even some characters that appeared only to disappear for much of the narrative and then stick back up like a sore thumb when the narrative came to its climax. I wasn't sold by the way this narrative went from focusing on the mystery, to trying to divert attention by shifting to random elements to evoke suspicion or weirdness (i.e. Liv going on a completely random tangent by calling Russian women whores and labeling Shane's mother as such), then popping back up with the mystery with things that were obvious red flags, but had no guesswork as to the foreshadowing and development of motivations behind the characters' actions.

This frustrated the ever-loving heck out of me, and I was disappointed since the narrative had a really strong start and premise. It felt like it lost steam as it went on, then threw the ending just to have a half-hearted twist. I wasn't convinced by it, and it's hard for me to see the appeal when it was such a slog to get through after a time just to reach that ending, despite knowing what it was going for.

On the whole, it was underwhelming, to be honest, and I've a feeling I'm being more generous with it than I should be. I liked the idea of it, but the execution - on the whole - left much to be desired.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews289 followers
December 5, 2020
“How can something so bright be so cold?”
― Kim Savage, After the Woods

I thought this was going to be a DNF but I finished it tonight. It is a pretty short book.

So this book is YA literature and the plot, which I will not spend a long time on, involves two girls who go jogging in the woods and encounter a deranged killer. When he holds one girl at knife point, the other girl Julia, rushes him, saving her friend. Julia basically takes her friend's place. But her friend, Liv, just..leaves. Runs away.

Julia manages to escape and is having serious PTSD, has become emotionally closed and has partial amnesia. She is in therapy but can't talk to anyone about her experience because the one person she really wants to talk to..the girl who was with her..Liv..refuses to discuss it and tells Julia she must move on.

When a body turns up in the woods, Julia starts remembering things and also realizing her "friend" may know alot more then what she seems to.

So..that is the main plot. I have very mixed feelings about this book. I can not say I was wild about it all that much but I liked the concept. I am going to list what I liked and did not.


Great plot..started with lots of tension from the beginning.

I liked Julia. Very much.

The romance that bothered many people somehow worked for me in this book.

Character development was for the most part good and the attacker's mother just came to life. I wish she could have had her own book.

I LOVED the way the media is eviscerated. It is so accurate..the writer did that so well..it may have been my favorite thing in the book.

The atmosphere..author is so good with the descriptive writing, completely capturing the isolation and bleakness of being alone in the woods. That was riveting.

Now..what I didn't like and what almost caused me to rate this book lower :

The execution of the plot: it starts with a sizzle then..nothing for pages and pages. There was much I did not understand and chapters would end with one thing and start with something completely different and take forever to reference the prior chapter and how the prior conflict was resolved.

Liv.. to much of a cardboard character for me and to unfinished. I did not feel like I ever knew her. I think the author did great with all the character development..except Liv. Plus I could not stand her but that is not really the writer's fault.

The motivation..this is a tough one because I am unsure if I have the ending right but the motive just seemed crazy to me..almost unbalanced. I seriously could not buy into it. Seriously.

But also..through the whole book there is a feeling leading up to a big confrontation, a big explosive all out scene . That never happens. Never ever. I felt cheated by the ending. I felt like we were building up to..what exactly? It did not make sense.

I would recommend this because I'd love to know others opinions. It is a strange book and I do not mean that negatively. It is not one of my favorites of the year but it is a good book for a discussion and/or book club.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
January 19, 2016
3.5 Stars
This must be the year for thrillers and mystery in the young adult genre and I couldn't be happier for it.

Savage's foray into the genre was a hit with her fast paced thriller that will keep you on edge and turning the pages.

Julia has just about everything a good heroine in these type of reads should have. Strong, fierce, loyal, and one heck of a witty sarcastic attitude that is hard not to love, oh yeah, she's also a fighter. Not in the kick butt sense but in the do whatever she has to to protect those she loves sense and it made her so endearing and her character believable to the core.

With a best friend that, when the story starts eleven months after Julia's abduction, makes you wonder, is deserving of the loyalty Julia showed her. With PTSD and a snarky attitude to cover it, Julia sets off to find answers and set things right.

With an ending you might not see coming this is a fast paced novel, with an atmosphere constantly shrouded in deception and lies, this story is one that will keep you on your toes until the startling dramatic conclusion.

*ARC copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Drew.
450 reviews500 followers
May 28, 2016
Sadly, this was one of those books that I felt completely disconnected from.

I don't know what it is that hooks a reader. Maybe it's how well they can relate to the characters or if the plot captures their attention and manages to blow any other thought from their mind. Maybe a person liking a book merely depends on their mood at the time of them reading it.

After the Woods never had me interested in what was going to happen next - which is funny, considering it's a mystery novel.

The plot opens with Julia and Liv getting kidnapped, but they accomplish an unbelievable task when they manage to escape. A year later Julia is still traumatized by the event.

“Liv and me. He was looking for us, that day in the woods.”

Julia tries her hardest to remember exactly what happened in the woods, but little details always slip from her mind, leaving her frustrated. The repetition of Julia visiting a psychiatrist and having flashbacks grew very tedious.

A mystery is promised and this book is marked as a "thriller," but I found the plot very weak. It felt more like a contemporary - a boring contemporary at that - following Julia's boy drama and family problems.

Julia can't understand why Liv is dating a loser and tries to help her friend make better decisions while a gorgeous guy has caught her eye too. Seriously, half the time this felt like a chick lit. Where was the suspense? The psychological tension?

Based on other reviews I've read, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm glad I gave it a try but this underdeveloped debut was not for me.
Profile Image for Jeff Zentner.
Author 9 books2,232 followers
August 30, 2015
Imagine beginning a walk in a fog-enshrouded November forest at dusk. As the light fails you, you walk deeper and deeper in, picking your way along as branches tug at your sleeves and roots seem to reach up to trip you. It's quiet in the way of places with no memory; where people go in and sometimes never come out. But you press on because it's beautiful and because your desire to see what lies around the next bend overcomes the dread lurking at your mind's margins.

That's pretty much what reading AFTER THE WOODS is like.

If you like harrowing, twisted stories with more psychological dread than gore, this is the story for you. Reading it reminded me of reading THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

Profile Image for Sarah.
277 reviews28 followers
May 4, 2016

I sit here reviewing this storyline and the poor editing and I'm simply blown away at the high reviews.

This poor author was never given guidance, and while it had potential to be good, no one said to her "get your shit together, tighten it up."

This book was a mess. Storyline was all over the place. It was as though the author wanted to hit all the boxes in her book. Mystery, check. Betrayal, check. Suspense, check. Romance, check. Abuse, check. But here's the thing, they were thrown at you like an ice bucket.

Now if you haven't read this book, or you absolutely love this book- this is where you stop reading. Spoilers abound and seriously bad criticism afloat.

The story is based loosely around a video game, a girl's low self esteem, a friend that ends up in the wrong (or right) place at the right, I mean wrong time, OH! and cops not performing their job, and wait, wait! a dysfunctional family dynamic. Yes, that's it, I think I've covered it. Does that sound like enough topics to cover in a 150 page book?

So in matching with my authors tactic of messiness, let us begin my messy review.

A girl escapes the woods. From being hunted down. By a man who has an obsession, or a couple of them. The escapee however, was not the intended victim. Lucky gal. I mean unlucky. And we journey with her, discovering her foggy memories. Memories that make her question her friendship and how she ended up so unlucky after all. This sounds like we're off to a great start. Albeit, I absolutely hated our main lead, we can work around that with a solid storyline.

But then a love interest is introduced, fine, but we forget about him until our angry little she-cat heroine needs an ally. Okay, I'll bite, he drops off again and randomly appears to recite some god awful cheesy rom-com line. He's met her three times; where is this coming from? However, towards the end it becomes painfully obvious that you know, that the author knows she's lost track of her characters. For this example below, said love interest has disappeared from heroines thoughts and the authors chapters to have this wonderful excerpt randomly thrown in your face as explanation....

“You’ve been avoiding me,” I say. He laughs again. “I haven’t been avoiding you. I’ve been at a hockey tournament in Lake Placid. My father and me. We thought it might be a good time to get out of town.” I smile."

You certainly patched that one over, yes you did. Perfect explanation for why he's been MIA.
Also, isn't my father and I? But this is probably covered in a dialogue clause; I'm being a stickler, aren't me? (ha)

Let's move on. At one point our emotionally dysfunctional homegirl's best friend is hospitalized. Let's review an excerpt from the book.

"I grab my phone from my back pocket and take a picture of the chart just as Deborah throws open the door."

This seems like an innocent piece of text, no? Why am I trolling this? Remember those loose threads I was talking about? This is another unnecessary piece, it leads you to believe, via her snapping a photo, there's some mystery we will uncover in this file. IT IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. NEVER. Why include this? I'm left waiting for a big mystery to be revealed in the last chapters regarding this, but never receive it.

Moving onto more messy information provided to us, the best friend, Liv has a father (duh, Sarah). But the father piece is given to us 75% of the way in and this is how it is smoothly brought up:

“We can’t begin to try to understand other peoples’ arrangements,” Erik says gravely. Ouch. “Though her dad is coming,” I say brightly, taking a different track. “For February vacation. There’s that.”

Okay, what's wrong with this, now? Nothing in the sense except again, you feel it being inserted in after many drafts. You can feel the author trying to piece together the puzzle. It's painful.

I'm honestly thinking this is meant for angsty teenage girls, with too many feelings and a need to relate, so my bad for picking this apart, it's probably helpful to some. I'm going to leave you with this ending quote to support my theory. The last sentence really inspired it.

“Do I have to spell it out for you? I am not what you fell in love with! If anything, you should be disappointed.” Her hand meets his face with a shallow slap. He raises his palm to his blooming cheek. His eyes slit and spark. “Don’t. You. Ever!” “You prefer that I look this way. You’re saying Mother’s right. You SUCK!”

BOOM, the end.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
824 reviews207 followers
February 7, 2017
Almost one year ago, Julia spent two days in the woods, fleeing from a man who first attacked her best friend, Liv, and then held Julia hostage after she broke her ankle saving Liv. As the anniversary of “the Shiverton Abduction” approaches, Julia struggles with PTSD, lost memories, and another mystery -- why is Liv acting so weird?
I read this book mainly because it’s set in a state park located less than a kilometer from my house. A park I’ve spent a lot of time in, and hiked every trail of at least once. (Although to be fair, I live on the eastern side of the Fells, and this story takes place on the western side, where I’ve spent much less time.)

So my first problem with this story is that, aside from the name and the “Sheepfold” and “Tower” features, the Middlesex Fells of this book and the Middlesex Fells of reality are pretty different. For one thing, I’m not sure you could manage to be lost for two days, even on a broken ankle. You really can’t go far in any direction without finding either a marked trail or a fire road, complete with a bicyclist or a dogwalker, especially on the Sheepfold side of the Fells. You also really can’t find anywhere in the Fells where you can’t hear the busy roads which run all around and through it. It’s a forest in the middle of five fairly dense suburbs. And speaking of those suburbs, for some reason, while the park gets to keep its name in this book, the towns around it are given fictional names. Why set a book in a real park, surrounded by made-up towns? Why not just make the woods fictional, too, to fit the purposes of the story? I also .

My other main problem with this book is that I personally found too much of the “suspense” to be too obvious, and the stuff that wasn’t so obvious, like motives, seemed muddy.

The story is well-written, giving Julia a strong voice, especially at the beginning, so I was pulled right in. The supporting characters were all interesting: Julia’s scientist single mom and a father who’s been around all her life without quite being part of it; best friend Liv, who has spent the year since the incident pulling farther and farther away from Julia; a middle-aged TV news reporter trying to use her proximity to Julia to fire-up her career; and Kellan, high school hockey star and son of the local detective who investigated Julia’s case, who is suddenly taking a romantic interest in Julia.

So many potentially intriguing threads. But none of them really led anywhere satisfying. The TV reporter gets a lot more page time than seemed to me to be warranted, including an overly long and pointless talk between Julia and the reporter’s son. The romance with Kellan fizzles. Mostly, except for Julia’s parents, the supporting characters all end up seeming kind of seedy and unpleasant. Which would be fine, if that seemed to be something Julia could learn from. But she never has time to react emotionally to any of these people, as something else immediately happens to distract her (and the reader) from any chance to process what she's discovering.

The biggest disappointment for me, though, was that IMO, this book should have been from Liv’s POV. Liv is so much more interesting than Julia. Liv struggles with her domineering, narcissistic mother, has started dating an unsavory boy with whom she has a very twisted relationship, and clearly carries some kind of burden over what happened when she escaped from the attack in the Fells and Julia didn’t. The “twist” at the end of the book is almost entirely about Liv, so why not make her the main character? Yes, it would have been a very different story. But so far as I could tell, Liv is the person with a character arc in this book, while Julia ends up feeling like nothing but a framing device.

So sadly, a pretty meh read for me, even though it did keep me hanging on every word.
Profile Image for Sarah Ahiers.
Author 3 books372 followers
November 9, 2015
I received an arc of this book in return for a fair review.

This. Book. Was great.

I mean, I would have picked it up for the gorgeous cover alone, but even if it had no cover, I would have been intrigued.

A year ago Julia was kidnapped by a man she and her friend literally ran into while jogging in the woods. Julia saved her friend Liv, who ran away, leaving Julia alone to face her abductor. But Julia was a survivor and escaped.
The people around Julia want her to get her life back on track. Liv wants to move on. Julia's mother wants her to heal. Her therapist wants her to open up. But Julia just wants to understand.
And when a body of a woman is found in the woods where Julia was taken, it seems there was more to the story than anyone, even Julia, knew.
So she sets out, trying to answer the questions she has, trying to learn the truth of what truly happened in the woods.

Julia is a fantastic protagonist. She's strong in your typical "strong female character" and she's literally a hero, saving her friend Liv from their abductor, more or less sacrificing her own life and safety. But even if she wasn't those things, she would still be a captivating, wonderful protagonist. She's snarky, and funny, and her wit carries the reader through the story at a fast clip. The pace was spot-on, too. I had a hard time putting the book down and finished it in a day.

Love interest Kellan is dreamy but not in the typical way. His humor matches Julia's, which makes them a good couple, even when they're not an actual couple, and when they're on page together, their chemistry sparkles.

And finally, the mystery at the center of it all stretches out pleasantly to the last page. Even when I had figured out some of what had happened, I hadn't figured out all of it, which left me feeling excited to reach the end and to have all the answers that I wanted almost as much as Julia.
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,458 followers
February 12, 2018
I really enjoyed this book. The first half is especially good. I really liked the main character, although she tried her best to be unlikable. I predicted the resolution fairly early on, but it's not often that a thriller shocks me. I also have really low expectations for YA thrillers, so this left me pleasantly surprised.

While it was a very enjoyable reading experience, you might notice I only rated this 3-stars. This was a for a few reasons:

1. The romance was COMPLETELY unnecessary. If it had been removed, not a single thing would have changed about the story. It was total insta-love for no reason at all.
2. The last half really got away from Savage. It becomes very muddled and incoherent at a point. I wish she had cut out some things and expanded on others. Liv was an equally frustrating and interesting character and I feel her backstory was slapped together, so I wish we had been able to delve into that more. I also wish more time had been spent on remembering what happened to Julia in the woods and giving more clearcut answers.
3. While I didn't hate the resolution, the execution felt weird and off. I also feel like the dust jacket summary is a bit spoiler-y?

Weirdly, one of my favorite scenes was when Julia goes to Yvonne Jessup's house. Overall, this book is a fun ride and I would still recommend it despite some of the issues. Let's be honest, thrillers are mostly about the ride and this was a decent one.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,187 reviews1,338 followers
February 22, 2020
Full Review on The Candid Cover

It is not often that I pick up a book and read it without setting it down. After the Woods is an incredibly fast-paced book that really surprises and keeps the reader guessing. It is definitely not a horror novel, for those who are hesitant to give it a go. There is also a super heroic (literally) and brave main character that the reader will just fall in love with, making After the Woods an enjoyable and thrilling read.

After the Woods is so fast-paced and genuinely unpredictable! The reader is slowly fed information as the main character, Julia tries to remember what happened in the woods, where she was abducted. There are so many “Oh my god!” moments as the story all comes together and make sense. This is the ultimate thriller novel.

I definitely wouldn’t say After the Woods is a horror. This book is way more of a thriller, and about solving a mystery. The cover does make the book seem frightening, but I promise you, there is no gore or anything overly scary in the book. The first few chapters mention the main character’s abduction, but it is not written in a way that is terrifying, for the reader at least.

I really liked Julia in After the Woods. One of the reasons why is because the she is a literal hero. She put her own life in danger to save her friend from a kidnapper. That right there is enough for me to love her. Julia is also so strong as she struggles to link the body in the woods to her own abduction. The reader will really feel for her as she comes closer and closer to figuring out the truth.

After the Woods is a thrilling novel that is more thriller than horror. There is a heroic main character who is very strong and likeable. If you are a fan of thrillers, you definitely have to give this book a go.
Profile Image for Jen Brooks.
Author 1 book81 followers
September 15, 2014
I read an early version of this book as a member of the Freshman Fifteens. After the Woods is about a pair of best friends who go into the woods one day . . . and only one comes out. The story is a psychological thriller exploring the relationship of these two girls--the one who was originally targeted and the one who sacrificed herself to save her friend. As the narrative unfolds, the reader sees the consequences both girls face because of that day while simultaneously divulging pieces of what truly happened in the woods. A thoughtful, suspenseful read.
Profile Image for Jillian .
441 reviews1,813 followers
July 10, 2016
This was interesting. The first half of this I was really enjoying because it just wasn't what I was expecting at all. The trope of two girls go into the woods and only one comes out is very common so when it went in a different direction I was intrigued and excited.

Then...I read the last 50%.

I'm not quite sure what happened. The story was all over the place for me. I lost the connection to the main character because by the half way point I feel like the characters still weren't fleshed out enough. I think the most fascinating character was Liv and I think this book would have been amazing if we got Liv's point of view even if they were just vague short chapters.

I didn't like the ending and I feel like it wasn't explained well enough. I also didn't like the romance. It was 100% unnecessary. If Savage had cut it out completely, it wouldn't have changed the story at all.

But there are a few things I liked:

1. The pacing was perfect. I think that Kim Savage did a great job with pacing and how she ended each chapter because it always made me want to keep reading. I legit read this in about 3-4 hours total time.
2.Interesting family dynamics. I realy enjoyed the different types of family dynamics that were presented in this story. I like that both of the girls, Julia and Liv, did not come from traditional nuclear families. I like the complex emotional relationships each girl had with their mothers.
3. Media and tragedy. I like how Savage incorporated media into the story and the media exploits and twists these types of tragedies for the public who eat it up basically. I mean just look at the podcast - Serial and the countless Dateline stories that showcase these types of tragedies.

Overall, I liked it but it had problems especially the ending. It's not very memorable either.
Profile Image for S.M. Parker.
Author 4 books187 followers
August 11, 2015
Do you like your psychological thrillers dark? Compelling? Complicated? Then read the first harrowing scene in After the Woods and try to put it down. (spoiler alert: you won’t be able to). Savage’s debut tells a tale of the warped lengths a person will go to in order to discover (or hide) their true self. Her characters are haunted and hunted, and she’ll keep you guessing about the real enemy right up until the end. AFTER THE WOODS is only the beginning of a journey that will take you to Before The Woods and back. Sound twisted? It is. In all the right ways. Watch your step.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,736 reviews711 followers
January 17, 2016
I'm not entirely sure what to think about this one.

I loved Julia. She's an awesome MC and I loved being in her head. I loved the way she spouted statistics and how she worked to find the truth of what happened and why.

The setting was quite creepy and the woods being used in the way they were was quite effective. There were also some great secondary characters who felt like they weren't really fleshed out. That was also a great way at showing how Julia was a bit ostracized.

My main complaint is that even with the ending and learning the what and why, it didn't feel finished. I read the last chapters still waiting for a big reveal. There was definitely enough to the story, but I wanted more.

Overall, it was atmospheric and had some delicious elements of mindfuckery that kept me guessing.

**Huge thanks to Macmillan for sending me the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
June 7, 2018
A year ago, Julia Spunk sacrificed herself to save her best friend from a paroled predator in the woods. Now a girl’s body has been found, and Julia’s new therapist is upending memories she’d suppressed of her terrifying 48 hour ordeal. But Julia’s more interested in the downward spiral her BFF Liv has gotten herself into, dating an abusive boy and starving herself. How is it all linked?


So the basic plot, without giving away too many spoilers, is that Julia and Liv were attacked in the woods, but Julia saved Liv, who took off running while Julia got a broken ankle. After her (single) mother whisker her away to recover, Julia returns to her normal life almost a year after the trauma to find Liv flattened by an abusive mother and boyfriend, a girl’s body found in the woods, an ambitious reporter probing and manipulating Julia for the headlines, and her suppressed memories resurfacing. Julia is determined to uncover the secrets, lies, and conspiracies behind what couldn’t just have been a random attack on her, although the second half of the book really focuses more on Liv ,and Julia makes discoveries that both surprised and shocked me leading to an awesome plot point I can’t even talk about because SPOILERS.


I liked Julia as a character – she was the smart, nerdy type, the best friend to the pretty, popular, do-anything-to-stay-on-top Liv. She thinks things through, makes lists, and analyses all of the clue she uncovers. She uses her contacts to discover more and she’s not afraid to manipulate people – or be manipulated in return, knowing that it must be tit-for-tat. She’s also ridiculously brave and doesn’t hesitate to throw herself at a crazy man with a knife aimed at her best friend.

Liv is practically drowning under the abuse of her ambitious, image-obsessed mother and new, rough boyfriend. We don’t really get to see much of what Liv was like before the woods, and I was really quite disappointed at Liv and Julia’s friendship after the woods. It seemed really lukewarm. I remember the intensity of my own high school friendship with my BFF, but Liv always seemed really cool, almost cruel towards Julia, twice reminding Julia – almost hysterically – that Julia wasn’t raped in the woods. I really felt like Liv and Julia were more acquaintances than actual friends, let alone BFF. Liv doesn’t even really seem to care – she’s got her own shit going on. In fact, I’d probably quite like to see this story from Liv’s point of view as well, as a companion novel perhaps. She’s smarter, more manipulative and more desperate than Julia, and quite hard to feel sympathy for even if she is being abused. Look, I’ve even written more here about Liv than about Julia, and Julia was the main character! I’d love to write more about Liv, but I really don’t want to spoil what was a fantastic plot point.


I really loved the writing style. I found it clean and easy to follow. Julia had a great narrative voice and every character was so clearly defined it was almost as if they’d been carved into glass. I liked the romance – the uncertainty of the way Julia felt about someone paying that kind of attention to her – was it because she was famous, or did he really like her for her? So there’s a bit of romance but in no way does it overshadow the main plot and it’s definitely not ‘insta-love’. I enjoyed how Julia uncovered the pieces of the puzzle, even though I felt that in the end I was a little unsatisfied. The biggest issue for me was that I thought it was leading to a big confrontation between Julia and a particular character, but Julia seemed to change her mind and the ending almost felt like it came out of left field, it wasn’t the ending I was expecting and really made the book more about Liv’s story than Julia’s.


Right at about 80% through, when the novel should have been ramping up to an explosive finale, the pace really dropped. Julia was collecting all of her evidence and getting ready to, I don’t know, accuse some characters of something I can’t mention because it’ll spoil the plot. But a new, minor, completely irrelevant character was introduced and then Julia changed her mind about approaching the character and it fell really flat and I started to get bored. But before that, I was eager to read along with Julia as she played detective and relived her memories and dealt with the aftermath of the woods and everything resurfacing because of the anniversary of the ordeal.


This is a novel containing diverse characters and really made me question what is a victim – is a victim still a victim if they planned their victimhood all along? It has echoes of Gone Girl in that vein. I found the mystery compelling, although I didn’t much like the female friendship portrayed, but most of the book was an interesting, engaging read. Although it sounds like I had a lot to criticise, I want to reinforce that I found this a 4 star read, which to means it's Nearly Perfect. I was highly engaged and invested in the book for a very long time and spent a lot of my non-reading time thinking about the various issues Savage had raised.

If you like thrillers, suspenseful stories, or mysteries, or even contemporary YA novels that are a little bit darker, I think you’ll like this. And can I just say I adore the author’s name?

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,547 reviews912 followers
March 20, 2016
At first I wasn't sure about this one, but I ended up really enjoying it. Not the typical "girl in peril" book, this is the story of the aftermath of a girl's trauma and deals with PTSD, friendship, and family issues. Julia's narration had a snarky dry humor that reminded me of Libby Day in Dark Places.Even though I'm usually skeptical of the inclusion of romance in books like this, there was one and it worked for me.

Full review to come.

Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,338 reviews227 followers
August 30, 2020
Grade: A-
4.5 stars

Sometimes I read a book that's so compelling, I start and can't stop until I'm finished. The sign of an even better novel is when I keep stopping, because that story is so mesmerizing I can't bear the thought of finishing. AFTER THE WOODS grabbed me by the throat as I fell in love with Julia, who saved her best friend Liv from a madman only to have been captured for two harrowing days before escaping herself.

But AFTER THE WOODS is so much more than a story of survival. Debut writer Kim Savage masterfully wove mystery and intrigue into this psychological thriller as Julia learns that her kidnapping may have been more complicated than a random act of violence. Nobody wants her asking questions. Not her mother. Not Liv. Not even her therapist. The only one who seems to support her quest is a reporter trying to stay relevant.

Savage created a sympathetic character in Julia, multidimensional and complex. Liv's mother was the only flat character, but her narcissism was so delicious she was impossible not to love-to-hate.

I could figure out some of the angles, but that only added to my enjoyment because of the psychological component to AFTER THE WOODS. Kim Savage is on my radar as an author I will preorder under any circumstance.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,233 followers
January 29, 2016
I thought this was damn good, and I might actually end up bumping it up to a five. Great voice, compelling story, really solid debut.
Review to come.
Profile Image for Anny.
672 reviews319 followers
March 9, 2016
Ha sido un libro raro en todos los aspectos, pero me ha gustado mucho. Aunque no he entendido algunas cosas.


DESPUÉS DEL BOSQUE, la última novedad de la editorial Hidra, es una historia que tenía muchas ganas de leer, pese a no saber mucho sobre ella. Tratándose de un thriller psicológico, sabía que tenía que leerla, porque las historias de este género me llaman poderosamente la atención, porque contienen mucha intriga y suspense, por lo que se convierten en novelas que se leen muy rápido, ya que el lector queda enganchado a la historia, y Después del bosque lo fue. Me ha sorprendido muy gratamente y he disfrutado desde el primer capítulo.

La vida de Julia, nuestra protagonista, da un giro muy grande cuando la secuestran en el bosque, pero ésta consigue escapar de Donald Jessup, aquel que intentó secuestrar a su mejora amiga Liv, pero Julia intentó salvarla, por lo que quedó atrapada ella. Cuando faltan menos de una semana para el aniversario del secuestro, encuentran el cadáver de una chica llamada Ana, por lo que Julia empezará a investigar y a no quedarse de manos cruzadas para saber si realmente su asesino fue el mismo hombre que la secuestró. Julia, junto a nuevos personajes intentará saber qué es lo que ha pasado exactamente con su asesino, y si la policía hizo su trabajo, ya que supuestamente cuando fue secuestrada, Donald estaba bajo arresto.

La novela, como veis tiene una muy buena premisa y me ha parecido una historia original, con una trama compleja. Pero aún así, la autora consigue además, desarrollar a una protagonista con un carácter fuerte, porque Julia es valiente, luchadora, y es toda una superviviente, pero sin duda, en ella quedaron rastros de esos dos días que estuvo secuestrada, y poco a poco intenta superarlo, con la ayuda de su psicóloga, aunque ella crea que no la ayuda para nada.

Contado en primera personaje, bajo el punto de vista de nuestra protagonista, iremos viendo tanto pasajes del presente, como también flashbacks que tiene Julia, de esos días que estuvo con Donald, y que por algún motivo no acaba de recordar todo lo que le ha pasado. En este sentido creo que la autora juega tanto con la intriga que despierta la novela, porque por un lado vemos las secuelas que tiene nuestra protagonista y cómo todavía sigue superandándolo, pero por el otro lado también de manera pausada nos deja ver pasajes del pasado.

Algo que también destaco, a parte de la trama, es a Julia en sí. Es una protagonsita que me ha encantado, porque desde el primer momento se conecta con ella, por lo que la historia que cuenta Kim Savage se hace más real. Además, Julia tiene una personalidad muy marcada, porque es fuerte, pero al mismo tiempo sarcástica y muy irónica, algo que adoro en los personajes. Pensaba que sería la típica protagonista que acabaría encerrándose en sí misma, y quedándose en casa para superar la trauma que tiene, pero no, Julia es todo lo contrario. Quiere saber la verdad, quiere seguir buscando información y no se deja por vencida, y en este aspecto me ha sorprendido mucho.

Reseña completa en: http://anotherlittlebook.blogspot.com....
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews483 followers
April 20, 2016
Being kidnapped has always been my phobia. For example, when I was 5 y.o. I ran away screaming from my neighbour. The old kind lady just offered me a candy, and I thought that she was going to kidnap me, because my mom told me not to talk to strangers. So this woman was confused and I was terrified lol. At the same time, I find books about it oddly..fascinating? So when I had came across this one and read a blurb, I decided to read the book immediately.

The book is about two girls, Julia and Liv, who were attacked in the woods by a man a year ago. Julia ended up being kidnapped while saving her best friend. Two days after she got away. One year later Julia still has nightmares, struggles to remember what really had happened back then, and tries to figure out what's going on with her friend, who acts weird.

I liked the book. It is very well written, pretty fast-paced and very suspenseful. You can't stop reading and you keep wondering what the hell happened. It also has a lovely portrayal of family and friendship. And there is sweet romance, which is not over the top, not the focus of the plot, doesn't become the 'we-should-get-julia-a-boyfriend-so-she-will-deal-with-her-problems' type of romance. Just sweet and lovely romance which is pretty subtle and comfortable.

I enjoyed the book! 8 out of 10.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,743 reviews167 followers
April 7, 2016
So I agree with others when they said they consumed this book in one sitting. Along a lovely beach today, I laid in the sun and completely devoured this story. The first half was just amazing. The writing really drew me in, the character was funny and sarcastic and she'd been through such a major trauma that it was fascinating to see who she was on the other side of it.

Adding in the drama of Liv and the reporters and police issues and this was really working up to be an amazing thriller.

but....then it wasn't. So many things just seemed obvious. I actually found myself annoyed that this Main character that I loved was missing such obvious signs. Add it in with the twist that I was so disappointed with and it ended with a book I loved to start and was just ready to chuck when I was done.
Profile Image for marlene .
254 reviews
February 28, 2016
Definitey enjoyed this book, if not I wouldn't have stayed up waaay to late and read over 150 pages not noticing the time flying. Now that I've finished the book I realize I should have been asleep like 4 hours ago. But I'm sure my fellow bookworms can relate. Some books are hard to put down!

Anyways, this is a book I have to think about before I can properly rate and review it. I need to gather my thoughts after some sleep.

Review coming up!
Profile Image for Ashley Blake.
Author 14 books4,598 followers
January 3, 2016
Hoo boy, this book is one wild, atmospheric, voice-y ride. I loved Julia from page one, with all her grit, vulnerability, and drive. I loved Savage's language, all at once lyrical and teen and perfectly dramatic. This is one for thriller-lovers!
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