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The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Title: The Astonishing Colour of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Release Date: 20 March 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars


This book is absolutely beautiful in all its aspects: from the cover, to the writing, to the story.

This book follows Leigh’s journey to Taiwan after her mother committed suicide. Leigh realizes that her mother has been turned into a bird and wants her to do something; Leigh just doesn’t know what.

It was so much different from what I had expected at first and it’s better than I thought it would be. This definitely doesn’t read like a debut author’s book!

Good Underlying Themes/Message:

  • Art is not a waste of time (even though some people think it is)
  • There is no perfect person; all people are awkward and weird sometimes.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect family; everyone argues. A family can be dysfunctional but still love each other very much.

A whole star for this category!

Realistic Characters and Growth:

We have Leigh as our protagonist. She’s awkward and different (without admitting it in some cliche way) and she associates feelings with colours. It’s a lovely way for telling a story and revealing who Leigh is without info-dumping. I liked Leigh a lot and she was real in the way she grieved and talked to others was authentic. I loved her passion for her art even though her dad thought it would get her no where.

I loved her relationship with Axel; there was real chemistry between them. Axel was adorable and I wished I knew someone like him in real life. Leigh and Axel are both quirky and love art, so they fit perfectly.

I loved how Leigh’s family isn’t perfect. How her mother’s depression wasn’t portrayed in a generic way, but rather seemed and felt real. Her family was dysfunctional, but they still loved each other very much.

Caro and Cheslin were an awesome duo and the fit together really well too. Waipo and Waigong (I really hope I’m spelling this right) were adorable and their growth was admirable.

Each and every character, whether it was the protagonist or the side-characters, were well-rounded and authentic. A whole star for this category!

Interesting Story:

Concerning the actual story-line, little happened but the author makes up for this by providing the backstory in flashbacks.

I’m not the biggest fan of flashbacks, but the way the author incorporated this into the book was perfect. It didn’t seem forced and the story still flowed naturally.

I really, really, really loved how this book ended.

Nothing turned out perfect, but I felt a sense of peace as the book ended. Usually, I’m only satisfied when a book ends and I feel a sense of peace as everything is wrapped up.

A whole star for this category!

Fantastic World-Building:

I loved how Leigh’s culture was weaved into this book.

I don’t know how to pronounce the words but I loved reading them. I’ve always loved the way people speak Mandarin; the way they deliver emphasis on different places than English does, and how their inflection differs from ours.

I loved the new foods I’ve never heard of even though it sounds delicious!

A whole star for this category!


The way this book is written shows how much the author cares about it. The writing bursts with emotion, and the imagery is spectacular and unique. I loved it!

A whole star for this category!

That’s it!

What did you think of The Astonishing Colour of After? I hope you loved it as much as I did!

This is my first ‘contemporary’ book in a while. I usually don’t like reading contemporaries because they make me feel sad and overly-emotional, which isn’t necessarily bad but I’m not really the type to cry so often.
What’s your opinion on contemporary novels?

Till we meet again!

Xx Alexia

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