Monday, 22 September 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds
Scott Westerfeld
SimonPulse
[September 23, 2014]
ARC from Teen Author Carnival

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.

I was so pumped about this book. A YA book about a YA writer? Hell yes I'm there! Why hasn't this been done before? And it held up to the high expectations I had...kind of.

The book alternates chapters between Darcy, the YA writer, and her move to NYC, and Lizzie, the girl who sees ghosts being written by Darcy. Lizzie's story tackles the traditional paranormal YA trope in a way. She's in genuine danger several times and makes an unexpected choice, so her storyline was interesting. It was thrilling and grabbing and creepy, but it wasn't really what I was reading for.

Then there was Darcy's story which is kind of where I'm torn. Darcy was maybe the most stereotypical teenage character I've read in a long time. She was impulsive and naive and seemed to have NO real experience in the world or idea of what she was doing which just isn't really the case so much with the majority of teenagers at this point. They're not generally that clueless anymore. But there were also aspects of her that were all too real to me. She moves to NYC and makes horrible decision after horrible decision. As I spent most of the summer at my parents' to avoid doing exactly the same thing in NYC, I can obviously relate to that. But it didn't make it any less hard to want to smack some sense into her. I'm still torn on if she had more redeeming qualities or horrible qualities and if that makes her a good character or not.

But there was still a lot of good in this book. It was unique and well written. It didn't pull punches about the reality of writing and living in NYC and being a writer. There were a lot of fantastic, three dimensional characters in both story lines. We also got to see Darcy while she was revising her novel and the editorial commentary she was getting for her revision and how she worked with it in real time, which was a cool experience. And it was a page turner. I really wanted to know how both stories turned out and was addicted.

This was without a doubt a good, well written book and I feel like everyone should at least try it, especially those with an interest in writing or publishing. But I definitely had some issues with it that may not work with you guys.

--Julie

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