Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (a review)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (a review)Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
on 24th September 2014
Pages: 600
Goodreads
four-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.

A paranormal tale and a contemporary narrative beautifully intertwined – Afterworlds is a novel with two stories. Darcy Patel has written a novel, secured a publishing deal and is now taking the next step. After graduating high school, Darcy decides to take a year off to fully embrace life as an almost-published author in New York City. She’s embracing adulthood and rewrites as she rubs shoulders with the YA elite. Afterworlds tells not only Darcy’s story but gives us the novel she wrote. In alternating chapters we get to see how Darcy’s protagonist, Lizzie, handles becoming a spirit guide to the dead and the troubles she faces as ghosts and other supernatural spookiness.

At six hundred pages, Afterworlds may seem a little intimidating at first. But it didn’t take long for me  to become fully engrossed in Darcy and Lizzie’s stories. Conceptually it’s such a great idea. A contemporary coming of age story wrapped around a paranormal ghost story. Darcy is a great character to follow as she navigates a new city and the new life she is creating for herself. She’s on the cusp of adulthood and has to deal with the problems, drama and wonderfulness which that entails. Getting to watch Darcy as she meets her writing heroes and all which publishing a novel involves. I loved the romantic relationship in this book and thought it was beautifully messy in the way first loves often tend to be. She grows so much and as a coming of age story – it was fantastic to read.

Lizzie’s story was interesting. I like ghost stories and I haven’t read any before using this particular type of belief/religion/mythology (I had to look up what the word psychopump meant). The drama and suspense from Lizzie’s story were great at causing tension and angst within Darcy’s. Whilst Afterworlds contains two different stories, the stories aren’t complete on their own. Lizzie’s tale of ghosts and the deceased would not have worked by itself. However the Lizzie part of the novel enriched Darcy’s side of things – showing her growth as a storyteller as well as how her life in NYC impacted on her novel. And like many of the characters in the novel had said – Lizzie’s story had an AMAZING first chapter!

Afterworlds is a unique book which I’m delighted to have read. I’d not read a Scott Westerfeld novel before and but after reading Afterworlds I’ll be checking out his older work.

 

Many thanks to Penguin Teen Australia for the review copy

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