Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: None
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: YA Paranormal/ Contemporary
Pages: 599
Buy it on Amazon
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld has such a unique concept where the POV switches from the main character, Lizzie, and the author of Lizzie's story, Darcy. Not only do we get to experience Lizzie's unique abilities we also come to understand how Lizzie's story came to be through Darcy's experiences. And 2 thumbs up for the diversity in this book! Well done Scott Westerfeld for stepping out of the YA paranormal box and creating these two fantastic story lines!

"She would find her answers in the words she wrote, in the stories she told, not by asking for permission."

Lizzie's story starts in the Dallas Airport during a terrorist attack. Lizzie fakes being dead and accidentally slips in the the Afterworld where she meets Yama who is a psychopomp that guides dead souls to the underworld. Lizzie survives the shooting and begins developing her abilities as a new psychopomp with Yama and other psychopomps' help. She then discovers her mother's childhood friend's ghost has been living with them since her murder 30 years earlier. Lizzie sets it upon herself to seek out the 'bad man' and take out revenge to help Mindy's ghost.

Darcy's story begins with her contract with the publisher for Afterworlds. Darcy wrote the novel in the 30 days following the discovery that her mother had a murdered friend she never mentioned. Once Darcy graduates high school, she decides to move to New York City to work on her rewrites and the sequel  instead of attending college. Once in New York she meets other YA authors that help her gain confidence in her writing and make her see the world in a different way.

I loved this book. I found both stories to be incredibly interesting, but I was particularly partial to Darcy because I am a writer as well. I think her insecurities we real and relevant to most writers. I was so intimidated for her when she was meeting the famous YA authors because I know I would be in the same boat. But I also found her to be inspiring because she just went for it. The fear didn't set in until much later when it was too late for her to turn back. Even though many people think her signing and contract took place much too quickly to be plausible, I think if you look up Leigh Bardugo's background, you'll realize it can happen and it does happen within months rather than years.

Lizzie's story was also really interesting because it involved Hindu mythology rather than your typical Greek/Roman, Egyptian or Norse. Yama's character added some softness to Lizzie's balls-to-the-wall kind of flare. I mean was this girl afraid of anything? She certainly was willing to jump right into the world of the psychopomps floating down the soul river, entering the underworld and even stalking a serial killer. Lizzie's story came full circle and I appreciated how her relationship with Jamie was reflective of what Darcy learned about trust in her relationship with Imogen.

The the few problems I had with this book stemmed from it's layout. Each chapter flipped between Lizzie and Darcy. I found that it was just too easy to put down because I knew there was a break between the action of each individual story line. I think I would have devoured it much quicker if maybe there had been a few chapter groupings, that way I would have been forced to keep reading rather than stopping.

All in all, I think this is a great stand-alone addition to the YA paranormal and contemporary genres. I would recommend this book if you like either of those categories or if you are writer yourself, make sure to check this book out! 4 out of 5 stars. Get your copy here!

Let me know your thoughts on Afterworlds!