Series: Afterworlds #1
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
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 BY AMY – YEAR 9
I have to start by saying that Afterworlds revolves around some mature themes, I’m not convinced it’s reaching it’s target audience due to this fact.
Afterworlds is a unique concept using a story within a story, complete with cross-over aspects and dual narration. The alternating chapters between each ‘story’ actually detract from the world building as a whole. Just as you’re starting to immerse yourself into one aspect it switches to the other ‘story’. This can be quite disorientating and I felt it slowed the pace of the narrative. I know I’m not alone when I say that one ‘story’ stood out much more than the other. At times it was an effort not to skip the one narrator and move directly onto the more compelling voice.
Eighteen year old writer, Darcy, is the actual author of Afterworlds while Lizzie is the main character in the book acting out the narrative, if you will.
Lizzie’s world is based around modern day life in America. Following a violent incident resulting in a near death experience, Lizzie discovers that she is able to “pass over” to the alternative dimension involving spirits and memories of past places and lives. In Lizzie’s side of the book she meets Yama, a spirit guide who learnt his skill at a young age. Yama helps Lizzie discover her potential as a spirit guide and helps her through all the challenges she will have to face. They progress into a relationship quiet quickly; however problems arrive along the way leaving you on edge and questioning events.
In my opinion Lizzie and Yama’s relationship occurred too quickly, it lacked build-up and therefore lacked believability and a connection to their relationship. I found Yama to be quite a bland charter he lacked personality; for me he was very much a one-dimensional, stereotypical white knight.
Lizzie’s half of the book did contain a fair amount of suspense aided by cliffhangers at the end of her chapters. Although the pacing was quite slow.
Darcy’s story focuses on getting the book published. This includes her going to New York, getting her own apartment and introducing the reader to her girlfriend Imogen. Imogen is a mysterious character, adding additional suspense and tension to Darcy’s half of the story. Imogen also manages to provide humorous relief within the narrative.
Darcy focuses on perfecting her manuscript and creating the perfect ending. Continually questioning the ending she has devised. There are several alternative endings available to her leaving the reader curious to know which one will be chosen.
I enjoyed parts in this books. Especially the parts where Darcy’s life altered affecting aspects of Lizzie’s story. However, I did feel that Afterworlds was very slow paced overall and at times quite boring. Although I did like the insight it provided into the life of an author. There are a lot of loose ends left at the end paving the way for the sequel.
While I enjoyed the paranormal side of the book and bits of Darcy’s life I’m not sure it’s enough to make me want to carry on with the series. Although I do think a sequel is necessary to tie all the loose ends together.