ARC Review: The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X. R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of AfterLeigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

The Astonishing Color of After had a very intriguing premise. I decided to read it as I was looking for something that dealt with grief. I was also excited because it has a biracial main character! I received an ARC from Netgalley. 

This book is #ownvoices for Taiwanese representation.

It’s always intriguing to picture a world that has a few supernatural elements in an otherwise realistic setting. It’s not an easy to pull off from a worldbuilding, however I thought that the author managed it extremely well.

The narration conveys emotions and events through the use of various color descriptions. This creates a very visual reading experience.  As a reader, it’s intriguing to discover which colours the characters associate with certain events and feelings, and it creates a very colourful and engaging reading experience.

I enjoyed reading about the journey Leigh took to find out more about her family and where she was from. As a multiracial person, I could relate to a lot of Leigh’s experiences – they made me feel very emotional. While reading I was contemplating about what it would be like for me to go back to one of my home countries and I was feeling a certaub type of homesickness.

The use of two media to describe the past: visions and flashbacks, was a nice touch, as it allowed for the reader and Leigh to observe the past from Leigh’s perspective and from other characters’ perspectives. I especially enjoyed the ending, as it opened up a realm of possibilities for her future, while also tidying up some of the loose ends.

The Astonishing Color of After is a wonderful addition to the fabulism genre. I adored it so much, and even days after reading it, I find myself thinking about different scenes and how colours were used as symbols.

Trigger warnings: suicide, death, grief.

5 stars

Have you read The Astonishing Color of After? What did you think of it?

9 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X. R. Pan

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