Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld

Imagine you are a high school senior, with that stress that entails:  applying for college, prom, getting ready to graduate, and looking forward to...getting your first book published?  In Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Uglies) introduces us to Darcy, a young author who not only gets her first young adult novel accepted by a publisher before she graduates from high school, but gets a big enough advance to move to New York on her own to pursue her writing career.  But don’t you wonder what exactly she wrote about?  Well, Westerfeld provides that too.  Not only do we get to follow Darcy’s story as she fits into the world of writers and publishers in New York, works on rewriting her book, and discovers more about herself, but we also get to read the book she has written.  Afterworlds switches every other chapter between Darcy’s real life and Darcy’s published novel.

In Darcy’s novel, Lizzie is caught in a terrorist attack at the airport, and miraculously survives.  But she can’t tell anyone that the reason she survived is that she slipped into the afterworld, where she meets the love of her life, a soul guide named Yama.  After the attack, she develops her powers of slipping between life and death, and has the ability to talk to ghosts, including the ghost of her mother’s best friend that was murdered when she was eleven and has lived in her house Lizzie’s entire life.  But things get complicated when she discovers the murderer is still alive and another soul guide wants to take Lizzie as his apprentice.

Both Darcy’s and Lizzie’s stories are captivating from the very beginning.  Although the two intertwined narratives together make for a long book (600 pages), every chapter makes you want to keep reading.  The mix of fantasy and realism makes it a book that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences.  Lovers of the Westerfeld’s Uglies series should enjoy the book, although there are very few similarities.  Recommended for high school age and up.