- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Simon Pulse (September 23, 2014)
- ISBN: 9781481422345
- Source: Publisher
Darcy Patel is a teenage girl won’t be heading off to college like most of her peers. Instead, thanks to the success of a book she wrote in just 30 days, she’s off to New York to pursue her writing career. She arrives in New York with little knowledge of the city or of the publishing world. She’s quickly taken under the wings of other more seasoned writers. Within a matter of months, she has an apartment, unexpectedly falls in love, and finishes edits on her debut novel, Afterworlds.
Darcy’s novel is about a teen girl, Lizzie, who slips into the Afterworlds after barely surviving a terrorist attack. The Afterworlds are the spaces between the living and the dead, where recently deceased travel on their way to the afterlife. Since she barely escaped death, Lizzie is now has the ability to see the dead. Her new ability has bestowed upon her great responsibility to help save the fate of the dead. Unfortunately this new power has little control over the lives of those she cares about in the land of the living.
I’ve been a fan of Westerfeld’s work for some time now. First introduced to his writing by my now teen son, I crave the release of each of his books. I recall a particularly embarrassing moment when I went all fangirl outside a party at Book Expo America a few years ago. I’m certainly not alone in my feelings. Westerfeld has a talent for crafting unique storylines, taking risks that many others wouldn’t dare. This is what makes him a truly outstanding writer.
I admit, in reading the premise of this novel I was skeptical. A novel within a novel? How could Westerfeld possibly pull it off? Well, he did. He surpassed all of my expectations, quickly putting an end to my skepticism.
What makes Afterworlds such a profound read is that Westerfeld succeeds at creating a wholly successful novel within a novel. Dual storylines are told in alternating chapters. One would think this would be confusing but it’s not; they each flow quite well together but could easily be read as two stand-alone novels. The protagonist in each are given ample time to develop and grow, each evolving into completely different characters than they started out as. I quickly became invested in Darcy’s life in the publishing world and her budding love life. The same was true for Lizzie and her understanding of her new powers. Both were genuine, well-developed teen characters readers are certain to connect with. They weren’t cookie cutter characters, each richly diverse in their own way.
Westerfeld has given his readers a great gift with Afterworlds. With a novel at over 600 pages, many writers have the challenge of keeping readers engaged. That certainly wasn’t the case with this one; I devoured most of it in one day. That is quite an accomplishment! Each story’s pacing is quite different, I think this is what lends to its readability. When one story’s pacing hits a plateau, the other one picks up, never making the reader feel like they are rushing through one just to get back to the other.
The only challenge I had with this novel how to classify the genre. Or perhaps that is one of the selling points; a novel that alludes any one genre, instead encapsulating many!
The ending alludes to a sequel, I certainly hope that is the case. I certainly haven’t had enough of Darcy and Lizzie; I anxiously await the opportunity to reunite with them! Certain to be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from all different backgrounds, I highly, highly recommend this novel!