Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Publication Date: September 2014
Hardcover, 599 pages, Simon & Schuster
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Paranormal

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.

My Review

Teenage authors, terrorist attacks, and reimagined Indian religions? Sounds like the start of a bad joke. But in the case of Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, the joke wasn’t actually too bad. Of course it wasn’t amazing either. 

We start off with Darcy, a recently graduated from high school, almost published author who wants to move to the Big Apple. Her experience is cute, and contemporary, and oh-so-sweet. THEN, we move on to Lizzie. Lizzie’s just survived a terrorist attack at an airport by channeling her inner dog—in other words, she played dead. And now, Lizzie can see dead people. Of course, her entire life is being manipulated by the previously mentioned almost published author. Aww snap! 

The dual point of view was unique and fun. It was weird, in a good way, to go from a realistic story of a teenage girl in NYC, to a teenage girl running around with ghosts on her heels. Sadly, Darcy’s story is much more believable, and that’s not just because Lizzie lives with ghosts and Indian spirits running amok. Instead it’s because Darcy has such real emotions. She’s curious and fretful and reminiscent of every teenager who is out on their own for the first time. Whereas the “afterworld” and its protagonist, and even antagonists, left a lot of character and relationship development to be desired. And I just want to say that I'm in love with the idea of Yamaraj's character, not so much how he was actually written.

Plus, for a book that sold for $150,000 to a publishing house,—like Darcy’s book Afterworlds (Not the book I’m writing a review on, but the book Darcy actually wrote that’s narrated by Lizzie. I know, the similar titles are confusing aren’t they?)— it better be a danged good book. The pretend Afterworlds just wasn’t $150,000-level good. 

Incidentally, Scott Westerfeld did a marvelous job of showing how unglamorous the publishing industry can sometimes be. I also heard he based a lot of his characters off of his famous author friends. *cough* John Green *cough* The big book Afterworlds (a.k.a. not the one written by Darcy) is a fantastic learning experience when it comes to the writing world. However, I failed to see the oh-my-gosh-I-love-Westerfeld’s-writing appeal. It was good, not squeal-worthy.

*Note: I received a copy of this book to review from Book Review Board of Missouri. This in no way altered my opinion/review.


  1. Ahhh... Afterworlds. I gave this book 3 stars too. At first, I loved it! The first 20% or so was killer for me, but after that, I found I didn't care as much. And I thought I was the only one that thought Darcy's book wasn't worth 150K. I mean, come on! That's a lot of money for a debut novel. I would have expect more like a price between 50-100K. Anyway, I agree. You're not alone on this one.

    1. Thanks for agreeing with me! And I'm definitely glad that I'm not alone with the money amount. I thought that was really weird.


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