Book Review: After the Fall (RWBY #1) by E. C. Myers

Book Blurb:

Trouble is brewing . . .

After Beacon Academy fell, Coco, Fox, Velvet, and Yatsuhashi made a vow: No one else is getting left behind. It’s been more than a year since Team CFVY saw their school destroyed by the creatures of Grimm, their friends felled in battle or scattered across the world of Remnant. Since then, they’ve been settling into life at Shade Academy in Vacuo, fighting hard to finish their training so they can find their friends and save their world.

When a distress message comes into Shade, asking for huntsmen and huntresses to defend refugees from a never-ending stream of Grimm, Team CFVY answers the call without hesitation. But in the heat of the desert, they’re forced to relive their former battles, both from the fall of Beacon and from everything that came before.

Published June 25th 2019 by Scholastic Inc.

My Review:

So for those of you unfamiliar with the wonderful world of RWBY (pronounced “ruby”), it started as a web series by Rooster Teeth. The show of RWBY follows the four main characters: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang. Their initials (as well as the initials of all the four person cells operating in the show) were smushed together to give us their team name, RWBY, as they attended the combat school, Beacon Academy, to learn how to harness their auras, semblances, and physical skills to defend the world from dark creatures known as Grimm.

Believe me, this is all important. Because this book follows the story of team CVFY (pronounced “coffee”) after the fall of Beacon Academy. The main characters continue their story arc in the web series, but fan favorites CVFY weren’t relevant to the plot anymore (at least at the time of my writing this) so Rooster Teeth decided to tell their story in a different medium.

Rooster Teeth is very good at that–I mean, with the free series posted on their website, they have to get their money from somewhere, right? The merchandising alone is crazy, and there was a manga spin-off, so why not a book series following the ever popular team CVFY?

I enjoyed this book immensely, especially the little nods you’ll pick up along the way if you’re a fan of the show. I’m a big fan of Easter eggs, and this book doesn’t disappoint in the number of nods and references to the story from the original series.

That being said, I had some problems with the writing. There are multiple point of view shifts, and while I felt like Myers did the best he could with the POV jumps, the sheer number of them was jarring. Especially if you read continuously through it, like I did. Having to hop around into different people’s minds, reorienting yourself constantly, was exhausting. More than once, I had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to make sure I was following the correct character (the silhouettes on the first page of each chapter were a lifesaver!). Four characters, plus the jumps back to Beacon, were a bit much, in my opinion.

Another issue I had was the intended audience. I realize they published through Scholastic, which is definitely more of a younger readers publisher, and they probably tried to make the story reach a younger audience because the writing felt simplistic. At the same time, I felt they wanted to cater to older audiences who follow RWBY. And then they wanted to allow it to be accessible to people unfamiliar with RWBY while acknowledging the fan-base that transitioned with them from the web series (hello, Easter eggs). Trying to spread to cover so many bases left the story thin.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely. I’m just sad to say that if I didn’t have that love for RWBY pushing me forward, I might not have finished. Because of the rich world-building in Remnant, the complex themes from the show, and the characters are such a draw, I could transpose that richness over onto this story. Without that prior knowledge, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much. I’d rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Leave a Reply