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I Belong

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

AfterworldsTitle: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: YA Paranormal/Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 599 Pages

ISBN-10: 1481422340 (Simon Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-1481422345 (Simon Teen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


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.

Quick & Dirty: This intriguing blend of paranormal and romance was an enjoyable novel!

Opening Sentence: The most important email that Darcy Patel ever wrote was three paragraphs long.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Darcy is eighteen when she finishes her first book, Afterworlds, typing the first draft in under a month. She ships it off to a high-end publishing company, and sure enough, they take on the book for a high sum of 300,000 dollars for her novel and its unwritten sequel. We get to see her struggles in the publishing world as well as her character’s struggles in a paranormal world, as she speaks to ghosts, makes enemies, and falls in love. Lizzie’s story is more gritty, but Darcy’s story adds the realistic tinge to the novel as a whole, making Afterworlds an enjoyable book.

Before starting Afterworlds, I’d never read anything of Scott Westerfield’s. I own his Uglies series and know how popular it is, so that gave me high expectations. Mostly, Afterworlds fulfilled those expectations. I loved the unique idea of having an author getting her book published as well as spicing it up with the book that she’s publishing! One problem I had with Afterworlds was that both storylines — Darcy’s, and Lizzie’s — has insta-love, Lizzie more than Darcy. Lizzie and Yamaraj literally kissed the first time they met; okay, it was on the forehead, but still. Their relationship progressed far too fast for my liking. I thought Lizzie and Imogen’s romance was more realistic, and thought it was wonderful how the author portrayed same-sex love as natural as he did straight love. This book does deal with sensitive subjects such as that, as well as murder, sex . . . So be aware.

Lizzie’s story was an interesting read, and original. However, if Darcy’s chapters hadn’t been incorporated into this novel, I can’t see myself enjoying only her point of view. (Oh, and it was cool how the point of views changed! Darcy’s in third person, Lizzie’s in first.) It wasn’t boring, but the insta-love, the whole idea of ghosts, and the choices that Lizzie makes I don’t agree with, they all added up to a book that wouldn’t be my cup of tea alone. Lizzie was a good enough main character, if not a little flawed, and misguided. One of my favorite characters was Mindy, her mother’s friend who was murdered when she was younger. She is a ghost now that hangs around Anna’s closet and befriends Lizzie when she starts seeing the afterworld. Her cute girly personality gave a touch of happiness to a dark book.

Darcy’s novel was what made this read worthwhile to me. Having never been to New York, I have absolutely no idea if this is how the publishing process works. All the same, I found it enjoyable to see Scott Westerfield’s play on publishing. I loved how Darcy nitpicked away at her novel with the worry and care of an overprotective mother. I loved how she approached the issue of Yamaraj and how she essentially deleted Hinduism from her world. I enjoyed how she edited and we got to see the changes she made as she talked about them, which was nice. Altogether it was lots of fun reading about Darcy’s adventures with blurbs, writers block, and her romance with Imogen.

This book was an interesting mix of contemporary and paranormal romance that I thought was fun. Though I’ve seen complaints from other reviewers, I found the book enjoyable. It’s six hundred pages but I flew through them within a few days, so that wasn’t a problem. And if it had been any less than six hundred, well, we’re dealing with two plotlines here. One or both of them wouldn’t have been developed to their fullest potential! I know that Darcy was writing the sequel to Afterworlds in the last chapters and wonder if this means that the book will get another installment. I wouldn’t mind if it did, though I think it ended pretty solidly. It was cool how Paradox publishing house was described and created, and the different character’s personalities and how they tangled. I never really got messed up by the alternating chapters because the point of views and different characters kept them separate in my mind. Altogether, an enjoyable book that I’d recommend to others.

Notable Scene:

“Want a cracker?” Nisha said from the doorway.

“Let’s try to avoid cliches.” Darcy held the bird’s stare. “Do you talk??”

“Birds don’t talk,” said the parrot.

Nisha shook her head. “That’s fucked up.”

“Don’t teach my agent’s parrot to swear.”


FTC Advisory:  Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Afterworlds.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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