Review - Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

After reading Scott Westerfeld's The Uglies, I was looking forward to another great read. Unfortunately, Afterworlds not as good as his previous novels.
The two completely different storylines told in alternative chapters was very jarring. It was an unorthodox way to write a novel, and I applaud Scott Westerfeld for his originality (and bravery), but he just failed to pull it off. At least, for me.
As I was reading, I couldn't help but think that either story could do perfectly well on its own. The alternating chapters left me slightly confused and not really that much invested in either story. I don't know how to rate the book as a whole, so I'm going to separate the two narratives.

Darcy's story - Out of the two, this is the one I like better. We get a complete behind-the-scenes look at the publishing world and what it means to be a writer. There are many other reviews claiming that it was very unrealistic, while others stated that it was written for satirical purposes. As for my opinion, I think that even if that's not the way publishing happens, there has to be some truth and realism in it, and that was enough for me.

The characters are very likable, I especially loved Imogen. The trunk scene was perhaps my favourite part of the book. Although I thought the romance wasn't profound enough, it was realistic and fun. 
Final rating:

Lizzie's story -  I didn't find this very interesting, except for that famous first chapter. Imogen tells Darcy that her novel has the juice, but I don't see any of it. I wasn't compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. 
Lizzie's relationship with Yama is somewhat limp and... diluted, yes, that's the word. The pacing seemed too slow and climax not exciting enough. Or maybe that's just because I just couldn't get into her story.

Who do I recommend this to?
If you're looking for a good paranormal fantasy, this book isn't for you because it's just not captivating enough. Since Darcy's story was pretty good, people who like coming-of-age novels will enjoy this one. 

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