Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Afterworlds
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary//Paranormal Fantasy
Release Date: 23 September, 2014
Source: Simon Pulse via Edelweiss

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 Nara

Seriously, this has to be one of the most creative ideas for a book that I have ever come across. Two plotlines: one is a young author attempting to publish her first novel. The other is following her novel: a paranormal fantasy about a girl who can travel into "Afterworld", a sort of purgatory- a world between the living and the dead.

I feel like it's also quite a bold move, as really, the only people who would absolutely love this book would be people who enjoy both contemporaries and paranormals, and strangely, from the reviews I've been reading, this doesn't seem to be too many. Personally, I read all sorts of genres, so I was okay with both storylines. Interestingly, at different points of the novel, I would enjoy one of the plotlines more than the other.

Initially, Darcy's was a little boring, since all it was was her dealing with moving away from her family and friends and trying to live independently. But with the emergence of a romance and with Darcy starting to accept her identity as a writer, her storyline gets much more interesting. I really liked how the LGBT aspect of Darcy's romance was slotted in without huge fanfare. It wasn't a major focus of the romance- it was just something that happened to be there. On the other hand, Lizzie's storyline starts off with a bang, and then slows with the emergence of a flimsy romance, although the mystery/thriller aspect remains compelling.

(On another note, I feel weird criticising the paranormal storyline of Darcy's novel, since it feels like I'm criticising the character rather than Westerfeld himself.)

Overall, I feel like the book just dragged on that little bit too much. Which I suppose is to be expected seeing as though it's basically two books in one. Still, if you don't mind being plunged in and out of two different stories (i.e. kind of like reading two books at the same time), I would say that this book is an interesting experience, and one that you should definitely give a try.

Liked it

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 4/5 (Darcy); 2.5/5 (Lizzie)
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5