I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Also by this author: Afterworlds
Published by Simon and Schuster on September 23rd 2014
Genres: General, Young Adult
From international bestselling author, Scott Westerfeld, a brand new, thought-provoking, suspenseful thriller you won't be able to put down!
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.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld was by far the thickest book I received at BEA 2014. I remember seeing it on the table at the Simon & Schuster booth and thinking to myself “Wow. That is a big book!” It was also a book that a lot of people were buzzing about so I honestly couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and check it out myself. I had never read a book by Scott Westerfeld before but I had heard many good things (especially from my younger cousin who loved his Uglies series) so I was excited to finally get to experience some of his work.
Was my excitement worth it? Yes and no. I really wanted to like this book. I really truly did. But unfortunately there were just some things that didn’t exactly flesh out to me. I loved the concept of Afterworlds. Having two completely different stories going on within the pages of the same book? That’s very unique! I must give major kudos to Scott Westerfeld for coming up with that concept. I did enjoy going back and forth between Darcy’s world and Lizzie’s world, seeing where Darcy was getting her ideas, and how they played out in the fictional world of the psychopomps. Unfortunately though I couldn’t help but wishing that there was more to each world. I couldn’t help but feeling that something was missing from each of the stories. Am I exactly sure what more I wanted out of the stories? No but I still can’t wish that they had been more fleshed out in a way. Especially Lizzie’s because I felt a real gap between me and her in terms of my enjoyment as a reader.
Which main character did I enjoy more? Darcy. Why? Darcy just seemed more thought out to me. Maybe it’s because of Scott Westerfeld’s personal experiences as a writer but I felt like the character was much more realistic. Yes, she was set in a contemporary world, where in comparison Lizzie was set in a paranormal world, so maybe that is why I felt more kinship with her but I think it might have to do more with the way she was written. Darcy was given a backstory that was continued throughout her story and resonated with her actions. Yes, she was needy and insecure but as I was reading I guess I felt that she was a more continuous character then Lizzie. Lizzie was very wishy-washy to me and I couldn’t find myself rooting for her even when I was supposed to. Maybe it was the romance that did me in in terms of Lizzie? It might have been because that …. that was really one thing I could not get behind at all.
Why couldn’t I get behind the romance in Lizzie’s section of Afterworlds? Because it felt very forced. I mean, I understand that sometimes relationships that begin under intense circumstances can sometimes work. Or you can just base it on sex, right? Thanks Speed.
Unfortunately, this one did not as I would have much rather watched it develop over time instead of being rushed into believing that these two characters were just meant to be together. That being said, I didn’t necessarily agree with the set up Darcy and her girlfriend Imogen either. While I loved the dynamics at play there with the diversity of the two characters, the LGBTQ angle, and the fact that their relationship also fostered their writing skills, there were a few times where I sat there thinking that this was also way too whirl-winded for me. Sadly, both relationships kind of fell flat to me, and that may be why I couldn’t fully enjoy the story that was being presented.
On a more positive note, my favorite part of Afterworlds were the worlds which Scott Westerfeld presented to us. Getting a behind the scenes preview of what it is like to be an author in NYC was all kinds of awesome. The work ethic, the drink parties, the brunches, and critiquing of each other’s books – it was such a fun world to be invited into – and to imagine in my mind. It was like invading the mind of a favorite author which I think is something that we’ve all wanted to do at one point or another! May it have been a little unrealistic at times? Perhaps but it really drew me in as a reader and a blogger. The world on the other side also fascinated me as a reader because it contained some very creative world building. The descriptions of the river that connects the afterworld and the real world had me really visualizing the possibilities. Sometimes they were dark and slimy, other times they were free-flowing and clean, depending on the circumstances which were presented for Lizzie. For me, in many ways, it was the descriptions of the settings which saved this story for me from being completely lack-luster.
All-in-all, I can see why Afterworlds may work more for other people. It’s a very unique storyline containing two stories in one book. The main characters are two different girls, going through two completely different situations, yet are somehow still very much intertwined with each other. My only wish is that I could have enjoyed it more but don’t you worry, I know that this is probably not the last time I will be checking out Scott Westerfeld’s work.