Book Reviews

Afterworlds (Scott Westerfeld)

Afterworlds (Scott Westerfeld)Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Published by Simon + Schuster UK on 25-09-2014
Genres: LGBTQ, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 608
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★


The storyAfterworlds has two plotlines and two alternating points of view.  The first plotline, told in third person, is the story of Darcy Patel, the teenager who wrote a novel in 30 days and has just signed a contract to publish it.  The second plotline is the novel that Darcy wrote, Afterworlds, which is told in first person from the point of view of Darcy’s main character, Lizzie Scofield.  Both storylines also have a romance, neither of which I particularly loved.  I found Darcy’s romance much more interesting – her love interest is great – but both romances were too quick for me, and I never really appreciated Yamaraj at all.

I really enjoyed both storylines, and I kept coming back to the book whenever I had a chance to read, but for me it wasn’t the kind of book I was desperate to stay up late reading.  It was more of a laid back, savouring slowly kind of read for me.

The characters

We have two main characters to go with our two plotlines, Darcy and Lizzie.  Darcy is a teenager who has put her life on hold in order to follow her dream, coping with edits, re-writes and the beginning the as yet untitled sequel to her first book.  On top of all this, she’s getting used to living on her own for the first time – in New York -, new relationships, friction with her parents and always feeling like she’s an imposter rather than a ‘real’ writer.

Lizzie, the main character in Darcy’s novel is a teenager who survives a terrorist attack by playing dead, but comes out of the encounter changes and able to see the ghosts that have been present but invisible throughout her life.  She too is dealing with new relationships, but also the changes coming to her as she discovers the other side and her new abilities.

I think the main characters let the story down a little for me, though I found Lizzie the better of the two.  Lizzie goes through some traumatic experiences and one of her biggest concerns as a result is the consequences of those experiences on her mother.  In comparison I thought Darcy was frequently quite careless with her parents’ feelings.  As an example, she misses several deadlines: while I understand she’s chasing her dream in New York, she could have devoted the time to meeting those deadlines, both to reassure her parents and as a back up plan.  Both Lizzie and Darcy, I felt, got away with an awful lot through to luck, and neither ever really has to face any consequences.  Lizzie’s actions towards a man she considers evil are reckless and stupid, but she never faces any consequences.  Similarly, Darcy’s lax attitude to deadlines comes across as foolish and in some cases, entitled (repeatedly arguing over re-write deadlines for example).

Having said that, I absolutely loved Imogen, and found her much easier to relate to.  She’s definitely not perfect, but she’s slightly older, wiser and more responsible.  She’s dedicated to her writing – I loved her research scene in particular – and she’s very self-aware.  I also adored her backstory.

final thoughtsAfterworlds seems to have been really hit and miss: I’ve read reviews from people who loved it and reviews from people who hated it.  Unfortunately, athough the storyline kept me hooked, the more I thought it over in order to write my review, the more it became clear I had some issues with the book.  I really wanted (and expected) to love Afterworlds for a lot of reasons: I loved Westerfeld’s Uglies series, I loved the idea of the stories being entwined together, and I loved the idea of reading about the NaNoWriMo winner turned novelist.  Unfortunately, while I loved the idea, the execution let it down a little for me, and I can’t personally imagine that Darcy’s storyline would be of interest to anyone who’s not interested in publishing etc.

Buy it? This is probably a library borrow for me.
In a nutshell: A good read, but on reflection I had some definite issues with this one.

Other Reviews of Afterworlds: Little Pieces of Imagination | Proud Book Nerd | Snuggly Oranges

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