Friday, September 26, 2014

Afterworlds - Book Review

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I got to see Scott Westerfeld, author of the new YA novel Afterworlds, speak at Book Expo America this year about the world he created for the novel, and luckily I was able to pick up a review copy of the book, too. It's a long book, but it's very interesting, and yes, Westerfeld did create a pretty intriguing world.

There are essentially two stories being told. First, there's 18-year-old Darcy Patel who has moved to New York instead of going to college in order to work on rewrites of her soon-to-be-published debut novel, Afterworlds. She's on her own for the first time in her life, renting her own apartment, making new friends, and trying not to let her inner critic keep her from finishing her first book and writing her second.

Every other chapter, though, is the plot of Darcy's novel. Lizzie survives a terrorist attack by playing dead. The problem is, she does such a good job of pretending that she really ends up in the Afterworld. Because she's not really dead, she is able to return to the land of the living, but she's intrigued by her visit and her newfound power to see dead people, and she's constantly traveling between the two worlds.

As you're reading the Darcy chapters, you're also getting to see how she comes up with what she's writing in her novel (aka the Lizzie chapters). I've never read a book like this before, and while it's an interesting plot concept, there were times when I just wanted to find out what happened next with Lizzie and found Darcy to be kind of annoying. I mean, you've basically got two stories to remember over the course of 500+ pages. It can be a little much.

I also kept thinking that at some point, the two stories would converge, like the world that Darcy creates in her novel would actually turn out to be real. Whoa! But that doesn't happen, even though it would have been kind of cool.

I don't mean for this review to sound negative because I did like the book. All 599 pages of it! I liked how Darcy wrote her novel during the month of November. Might that be a nod to National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November? I also think the book would make for a good discussion, such as juxtaposing Darcy (the real girl) and Lizzie (the character Darcy creates). And of course, you can't have a novel about writing novels without the Book Expo America mention! Loved it!

Essentially, this is a novel within a novel about writing a novel. Budding YA authors will enjoy this book's look into how the sausage is made. It's not all just write a book, get it published, and done.

Afterworlds is published by Simon Pulse and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review.

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