Book Review – Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: AfterworldsBook Review Image
Author: Scott Westerfeld
ISBN: 9781481422345
No. of Pages: 608
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult
Origins: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 23 September 2014
Bottom Line: More for those readers in the publishing know

Afterworlds by Scott WesterfeldSynopsis:

“Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.”

Thoughts:     Telling two stories in one book has always been and will always continue to be a fairly common practice for writers. In most instances, it is a successful method by which authors can expand the scope of the novel and cross generations, cultures, genders, borders, and every other limitation set by science and the human mind. With Afterworlds, Mr. Westerfeld uses this methodology to cross the very real publishing world with the very imaginary “Afterworld”.

By all accounts, this attempt should work. There is Darcy’s story and her journey into the publishing world. It is intense and scary, heady and uncomfortable. Darcy experiences many firsts as her life unfolds in the city – her first author event, her first love interest, her first apartment, her first job, her first understanding of the grown-up world of paying rent. Darcy herself is likable but naive, determined to succeed in her writing as well as her bout of independence but emotionally unprepared to do so. Her story is an honest coming-of-age story as she graduates from teen to adult with all of the responsibilities and pressures that come with such a role.

Interspersed between Darcy’s story is her first publishing attempt and the reason she is in New York City. While Darcy navigates the unfamiliar adult streets of the Big Apple, readers get to read the story that put her there. Afterworlds by Darcy Patel is a complete story with a killer opening chapter and an imaginative retelling of the underworld myth. It has all of the elements of a young adult paranormal story which makes them so popular.

Unfortunately, by switching back and forth both stories become ineffective. A reader cannot adequately focus on one story or the other because one must shift attention between the narratives too often. Darcy’s scene rewrites lose their importance because readers have already read the final draft. Later, key drama points in Lizzie’s story are less suspenseful because readers already followed Darcy’s discussions with her friends of the very same points of Afterworlds. The entire novel becomes one throughout which readers will experience a constant state of deja vu.

Darcy’s experiences in the New York publishing world are interesting, but one cannot help but wonder if they are not too limiting in scope. For instance, how many teen readers will understand the importance of BookExpo America for new authors, galleys, book tours, and other unique elements of the publishing world? Long-time bloggers, reviewers, and fans of certain YA authors may enjoy watching Darcy struggle in this new world, but one gets the impression that this aspect of the story is solely for that very specific blogger/writer audience. That it is such a large portion of Darcy’s story may turn off some readers, especially as they struggle to shift between narratives.

A reader would better enjoy both elements of Afterworlds if they read each story separately. That way, readers can enjoy Darcy and Lizzie as individuals. They can follow Darcy’s evolution into published writer, can explore with Lizzie the Underworld and her new-found powers, and can allow each girl’s story to ebb and flow as it should, without interruptions. As the novel stands now, the mental adjustments required by readers to shift back and forth between the two stories is too great for most readers to become fully engaged in either Darcy’s New York City or Lizzie’s Afterworld.

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It’s Monday, September 29th! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading?

zv7qrnb Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Finished Last Week: Currently Reading: Currently Listening: Up Next:    What are you reading?

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Book Review – Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Title: Tabula Rasa Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin ISBN: 9781606845189 No. of Pages: 352 Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction Origins: Egmont USA Release Date: 23 September 2014 Bottom Line: Heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat fantastic Synopsis: “Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts…

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Audiobook Review – Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Title: Curtsies and Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) Author: Gail Carriger Narrator: Moira Quick ISBN: 9781478925101 Audiobook Length: 9 hours, 30 minutes Genre: Science Fiction; Young Adult Origins: Mine. All mine. Release Date: 5 November 2013 Bottom Line: Fun and funny Synopsis: “Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests?…

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Book Review – Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Title: Rooms Author: Lauren Oliver ISBN: 9780062223197 No. of Pages: 320 Genre: Fantasy Origins: Ecco Release Date: 23 September 2014 Bottom Line: I wanted to like it more than I actually did Synopsis: “Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged…

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Book Review – The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Title: The Paying Guests Author: Sarah Waters ISBN: 9781594633119 No. of Pages: 576 Genre: Historical Fiction Origins: Riverhead Books Release Date: 16 September 2014 Bottom Line: Not her best Synopsis: “It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel…

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It’s Monday, September 22nd! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila from Book Journey, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Finished Last Week: Currently Reading: Currently Listening: Up Next:       What are you reading?

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Book Review – Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Title: Broken Monsters Author: Lauren Beukes ISBN: 9780316216821 No. of Pages: 448 Genre: Thriller Origins: Mulholland Books Release Date: 16 September 2014 Bottom Line: Intense but doesn’t quite mesh Synopsis: “Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together….

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Book Review – The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: The Vault of Dreamers Author: Caragh M. O’Brien ISBN: 9781596439382 No. of Pages: 432 Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction Origins: Roaring Book Press Release Date: 16 September 2014 Bottom Line: Skip it; too frustrating Synopsis: “The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment…

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Book Review – Jackaby by William Ritter

Jackaby by William Ritter

Title: Jackaby Author: William Ritter ISBN: 978-1-61620-353-5 No. of Pages: 304 Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy Origins: Algonquin Young Readers Release Date: 16 September 2014 Bottom Line: Fun Synopsis: “Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a…

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