Friday, December 26, 2014

Kaniesha Reviews: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Afterworlds
Series: Stand-Alone
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Release date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genres: contemporary, supernatural, ghosts
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.

Review: I’ve been a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s work for quite a while, I believe I’ve been a fan since around the time the Uglies series was published. (The Uglies series is still one of my favorite series to date and I’ve also read his Midnighters trilogy, well actually I think I only read the first two in that so a re-read is a must!) Basically, what I’m trying to say is I’ve read a lot of his work and I believe him to be a brilliant writer, especially after completing Afterworlds.

Afterworlds is simultaneously about two protagonists: Darcy Patel and Lizzie Scofield. Darcy is the lucky creator of Lizzy, as she is a 17 year old YA fiction novelist. (Though yes, Darcy is also fictional and Westerfeld is writing two stories at once).

I’m just completely in love with this whole story. There’s so much about authors, writing, not writing but wanting to write, enjoying life, getting through the hard parts… It’s just so real and I truly loved every minute of it. Darcy is my favorite and I loved her struggles and I loved her accomplishments. I loved seeing her grow and learn and make mistakes and figuring out how to fix them.

Plus.. she’s not really straight. I love that her sexuality isn’t explicit, she doesn’t have herself labeled. She doesn’t really care about it, her priority is her book and her writing career but yes, this is a YA book and she falls in love. She falls in love with the older, wiser, charming Imogen Gray. We get to see Darcy roughly unravel Imogen, we get to see Imogen wrap up Darcy like a Christmas present. I don’t know how to describe it better than that but they’re amazing together, and they simply just made me feel like living, not to mention writing.

Related to them, I can see how their relationship can be seen as insta-love but there’s not a lot of details about their relationship, just that they confess to each other and end up living together. It honestly seems realistic, as I know people in person that are just like this.

To derail myself, I’ve just read a review and I’d like to respond and point out some things:

Some problems I have: Darcy’s family are supposed to be from India and Hindu. Darcy basically rejects all of their culture and her family is alright with it. I just don’t think this is realistic. Basically Kat here has a good point about this.

Other complaints that Kat has, I don’t have a problem with. Darcy is annoying and naive at times, yes but so am I. It’s a part of life to be young and naive (and I’m three/four years older than Darcy).

Another review by Robin here has pointed out that regular, average teenagers do not know what advanced reading copies are and about the writing world, and while this is true mostly (I didn’t know what ARCs were until 2013, and I was 20) - I believe that this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to them. No, publishing is not as easy as Westerfeld would have you believe in this story but why introduce every struggle into one story? This one has plenty and it’s already 600 pages.

Okay, I’m done reading and discussing other reviews but I do agree that the story-in-story was boring. I didn’t like Lizzie (Darcy’s creation) nearly as much as I liked Darcy and a lot of the time I was waiting for the story to go back to Darcy. Lizzie went from normal to extremely not normal by the end of the book, and the only real acknowledgement there was Yamaraj telling her she was changing too fast. Lizzie just had a very large character arc that was rushed and Darcy had a small character arc that was quite slow. (Even though there’s a pretty large gap where we’re given the ‘a few months passed and Darcy hadn’t seen or talked to anyone much’).

Afterworlds is one of the best books I read in 2014 and deserves every word of my rather long review regarding it. Definitely give it a try if it interests you!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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