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.
Review: Afterworlds is the most original novel that I read last year. Westerfeld gives us two story lines to follow in his latest and ambitious work. Eighteen-year-old Darcy is an aspiring writer and has completed her book for National Writing Month. She signs with an agent, drops her college plans and moves to New York to revise her soon-to-be-published novel as well as start the sequel to her book. Meanwhile, in chapters that alternate with Darcy’s NYC adventures, her fictional protagonist, Lizzie, survives a near-death experience to find she has become a ferryman, responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife.
Westerfeld effectively creates and meshes two divergent reading experiences (a coming of age story and YA paranormal romance) with two distinct yet believable voices in Darcy and Lizzie. I found myself immersed in both stories. In Darcy's tale we get a sneak peak behind the scenes look at what it means to become a writer and the YA publishing world. Darcy needs to deal with her own insecurities and come to terms with her own identity, which may contradict her traditional Indian culture. Watching how Darcy's emotions as well as the influence of her culture bleed into her novel is a really cool way in transitioning to Lizzie's story line. Readers have pointed out that there are some underdeveloped parts in the book, however, I see that as a metaphor for Darcy's immature authorial voice.
Though the book is close to 600 pages, I read through it in a matter of days. Afterworlds has something for everyone. Fans of paranormal romance would be drawn to Lizzie's story where as fans of coming of age novel as well as aspiring writers will find Darcy's story to be fascinating.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Words of Caution: There is some language and scenes of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.
If you like this book try: The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey