Monday, September 1, 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

By Scott Westerfeld
Published: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 608
Format: Hardcover
4 stars

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.

*Novel provided by Simon Pulse via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Opening Thoughts

I am not the biggest Scott Westerfeld fan.  I found his Uglies series, to be just okay.  However, this book very much impressed me.  It's about an 18-year-old girl named Darcy, who wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo her junior year of high school.  She manages to get a publishing contract for a couple hundred thousand dollars, so she decided to put off college, and move to New York City to become a "real writer".  It follows her journey through the publishing process, and everything that comes with it.  I loved this story.  As a writer who would love to one day be published, but has been feeling kind of slumpy recently, it was super inspirational to me.  This was an easy 5 stars for me.  Then, you also get to read Darcy's book, entitled Afterworlds.  This is about a girl named Lizzie who is involved in a terrorist attack in an airport, and manages to think her way dead, or into the "afterworld".  She then becomes a psychopomp, someone who guides souls into the spirit world.  This book fell a little flat for me and I think it was more of a 3 star rating for me.


I did quite like Darcy.  She's definitely not anywhere close to reaching my favorite protag list, but she was still an enjoyable character for me to read about.  I think that she was maybe a little bit immature for her age.  I mean, she's eighteen, and she thinks that she can live on $17 a day.  Didn't she take money management classes in high school?  Darcy is diverse, she's both Indian, and lesbian, though Darcy's family doesn't actually practice any Hindu cultures, so I kind of felt like Westerfeld was being lazy by having his main character be Indian, but not having to write in anything that would separate them from someone who was white, or Hispanic, or black.

Imogen felt kind of flat to me.  She didn't really have a whole lot of a personality.  I didn't like how secretive she was, and how she put Darcy down a lot, and not in a joking manner.  I realize that she didn't mean to do it, but she did, and it didn't resonate well with me.

I didn't like Lizzie as much as Darcy.  She was fine, I didn't dislike her, I just didn't particularly like her.  She didn't act as if she had been through a terrorist attack.  I felt like it should have affected her a lot more than it did.  Another thing that really irritated with me was that she had this "cold space inside of her", which seems way too similar to all of the new adult books that I've been reading lately, where a tragic accident has happened in their past and now they won't let themselves feel anything, or they "can't" feel anything.  That's not really a fault with the novel itself, but more of a personal issue that I probably wouldn't have had a problem with had I not read a plethora of NA in the past couple of weeks.

I think that it's possible that Scott Westerfeld wasn't writing Lizzie's story as Scott Westerfeld, but rather as Darcy.  A lot of the things that Lizzie did seemed a lot different from Scott Westerfeld's usual style, but would make sense for a first-time author such as Darcy.  I don't know if that's what he was trying to do or not, but if he was, then kudos to him, because I think that that's pretty clever.

""Exactly.  So I figured that the Angelina Jolie Paradox applies."

Darcy glanced at Carla, who looked equally confused.

"The what now?"

Sagan cleared his throat.  "You know when you're watching a movie starring Angelina Jolie?  And the character she's playing looks just like Angelina Jolie, right?  

"Um, yes.  Because that's who she is."

"No, she's a regular person in that world, not a movie star.  But the other characters never mention that she looks exactly like Angelina Jolie.  No one ever walks up to her on the street and says, 'Can I have your autograph?'"

"Because that would mess up the movie," Carla said.

"Exactly.  So when you cast Angelina Jolie in a film, you're creating an alternate universe in which actress Angelina Jolie does not exist.  Because otherwise people would be noticing the resemblance all the time.  This is what I call the Angelina Jolie Paradox.""

"There's no safety in ignorance."

"Only death is forever and even it changes over time."


The plot of Darcy's story was brilliant.  I was so fascinated by every, single thing that Darcy experienced in the publishing process.  I was a little bit bored by some of the scenes with Darcy and Imogen, and their relationship drama, especially since I felt like their supposed "love", that was totally insta-love, by the way, wasn't really real.  I didn't believe in it, so it was frustrating how wrapped up Darcy seemed in Imogen, even though it seemed that Imogen didn't care half as much for Darcy as Darcy claimed that she felt for Imogen.  I still would have given this story 5 stars on its own, though.

Lizzie's story was less than impressive.  It was bland, and uninteresting a lot of the time, and I found myself skimming over a lot of these sections, which is probably the only reason that I managed to finish this book so quickly.  It's a very unoriginal paranormal romance, that had very few new ideas.  I personally think that this book would have been a lot better if Scott Westerfeld had just cut Lizzie's story altogether, or only added a few excerpts from Darcy's book, a la Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl.

Overall, I did very much enjoy this book.  This review may have seemed as if I was bashing this book, but I can assure you that that wasn't my intention.  This book wasn't the best I've ever read, but I really enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading!  Let me know if your excited for this book!  You've only got three weeks to wait!


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