Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review - Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Series?: No
Pages: 599 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Dates read: December 22nd to 24th 2014 (ebook)
Goodreads synopsis:
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.
**This review may contain spoilers**
Rating: 4/5 stars

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I was so excited because it just sounded so interesting. Plus half of it revolved around the publishing/writing world, which is something that definitely interests me. Plus, Scott Westerfeld’s books are pretty great in general. The Uglies series was excellent.

Darcy and Imogen are as far as I need to go to start this paragraph. I loved them as individual characters. Darcy felt relatable to me because I am also about to go out into the world of adulthood with no idea what I’ll be doing. She was a fun character to read and even though I didn’t agree with some of her choices, I could definitely understand them. Imogen was just so great. She was unique and I could really see why Darcy fell for her. The way she spoke about reading and writing and anything in general was so amazing. I wouldn’t mind meeting someone like her.

This brings me to the next thing I loved about Afterworlds… Darcy and Imogen being a couple! They were just too cute. How they wrote together and helped each other with their respective books and their dates were all just so wonderful. There really needs to be more lesbians in YA literature because I would read the hell out of it. If Afterworlds would’ve just been about Imogen and Darcy’s love story, I would have been totally down for that.

Afterworlds also raised a few important points that are commonly found in the world of YA books. Darcy herself is an Indian girl who writes about a death God from the Vedas, the Hindu bible. She worries about cultural appropriation and talks about it with other authors. I found this to be an interesting aspect in Afterworlds. It didn’t necessarily have to be there, but it was, because discussions on cultural appropriation are important to have.

I, like most people who read the book I think, worried about the dual points of view and if it would distract from the story. Personally, I didn’t think they did. I actually enjoyed the dual points of view. I find they added to the story, if only because they made Darcy’s worries over her novel more real because I was able to actually see what she was worrying about. It didn’t distract me from the stories and I didn’t get confused about which story is which (the different points of view helped a lot, though).

Lizzie’s story (which is actually the book that Darcy is about to publish in the other half of the story) was alright. Had Darcy Patel been a real author who published this book, I’m not sure if I would have picked it up to read because there just… wasn’t much to it. The characters weren’t anything special. I really, really wanted to love Yamaraj (Indian death God = yes please), but there didn’t seem to be any defining characteristics to him, which kind of sucked. However, Other than that, I just don’t really see a reason as to why Darcy’s book was included. The stories didn’t tie together somehow in the end. I feel like I was waiting the entire novel for something big to happen that tied everything together and made the dual points of view mean something, but it didn’t and that was somewhat disappointing.

There were a few little things that I didn’t like as much. Darcy’s story - she wrote a book during NaNoWriMo, got it signed to a publisher less than a year later and got a few hundred thousand dollars for it - seemed a little bit idealistic to me. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the way the publishing world works. This part didn’t bug me as much, though, because I know Scott Westerfeld just did it that way to advance the story. And who knows, maybe some people just are that lucky, as Imogen states.

All in all, Afterworlds a really great book. Darcy Patel’s story is much more interesting than Lizzie’s, even though the alternating points of view didn’t confuse or disrupt the story at all. I do wish there would have been something to make being invested in both stories worth it, though. But really the best part Afterworlds is the kinda great representation - there were a few POCs and LGBTQA+ representation. Afterworlds gets extra points from me because the LGBTQA+ representation wasn’t just gay males, as is the most current form of representation. Lesbian main characters = amazing.
I would definitely recommend Afterworlds to anyone who’s looking for a read that is at the same time Paranormal romance and contemporary romance about writing and the love of books. 600 pages might seem long, but I honestly didn’t find it dragged on at all. Afterworlds is definitely one of my favourite books of 2014.

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