Author: Scott Westerfeld
Format/Length: Paperback/600 pages
Publisher/Date Published: July 29th 2014/Penguin Teen
Category/Genre: Young Adult/Realistic Fiction-Paranormal
Description: Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
2/5 stars –
Okay, okay, so I know you’re wondering how a book can simultaneously be realistic fiction and paranormal, so here’s my answer: This novel, Afterworlds, is literally a novel inside of another novel. It’s about eighteen-year-old Darcy, who is about to publish her debut novel, Afterworlds. And I have to say—this is one of the most unique concepts I’ve read about in a YA novel, that’s for sure. I’ve noticed that it’s divided readers so far: people either like, or they don’t. After finishing the novel I’m still not one-hundred percent sure where I stand.
On the one hand, I loved it. On the other hand, I’m not sure what feel for it.
So it makes writing this review rather difficult, as you can probably see by now. What I loved so much about this novel — and consequently, why I gave it the three star rating — was the concept, and the writing. The concept, as I’ve discussed above, was fantastically original. I wish there were more YA books that weren’t afraid to step right outside the box instead of falling into the usual YA tropes that we’re all quite sick of nowadays. In terms of prose, I loved the author’s writing style — it was simple but also descriptive in all the right places, and I just loved it. I’d definitely read another of his books again.
I also enjoyed the inclusion of Hindu mythology — that was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever read another YA book like that before.
So what didn’t I like about this?
Our two main characters — Darcy and Lizzie, (Darcy is the fictional author of Afterworlds; Lizzie is the main character in Darcy’s story Afterworlds) were fairly good characters, but I have to admit that I connected to Darcy better. Because like her, I’m a writer, and I would totally be lost and nervous when faced with the publishing industry, as she was at the beginning. But Lizzie? I don’t know, to be honest there wasn’t all that much to her. I didn’t connect to her as I did with Darcy; though, ironically, I probably preferred reading Lizzie’s point of view. Not much happened with Darcy. With her, it was more of a coming-of-age, finding-your-place-in-society sort of story, where as Afterworlds was filled with ghosty awesomeness. In saying this, though, I did enjoy reading from the perspective of a writer. That was great — and informative.
This novel alternates between Darcy’s personal story, and Darcy’s fictional story.
I found it hard to really get into either of their story. Here’s why: Because of the alternating between stories in each chapter, I felt thrown around and became quite jarring to read about Lizzie’s paranormal life, and the be thrown right back into Darcy’s. Therefore, it was hard for me to get a proper grasp on each story as they switched so often. I also wondered what the point was, too, of having Lizzie’s story thrown in there — what purpose did it serve?
However, this is still a good novel. I enjoyed it.
To end this review, let me just say this: Don’t let the 600-page scariness of the book make you apprehensive about it. I thought it was the perfect length.