Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on September 23, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
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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…\r\n\r\nTold 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.
The premise of this book was nothing short of amazing. It was recommended to me by a librarian friend, and I was obsessed with it for several days, listening to the audiobook at every opportunity. The chapters alternate between Darcy, an 18-year-old newbie author who is navigating her way through her first experience with publishing, living on her own in New York, and her first love; and Lizzie, the protagonist of Darcy’s novel, Afterworlds. The novel-within-a-novel aspect really intrigued me. I enjoyed hearing how Darcy created and changed parts of her story (even how certain words ended up in her book), and then getting to read that story. I was willing to overlook how everything fell into Darcy’s lap – a two-book publishing deal, meeting one of her favorite authors at YA Drinks Night and being taken under her wing after some witty banter, etc. – mainly because I wanted to believe that her “YA heaven” really could exist. A big part of Darcy’s life in NYC is her first love, who turns out to be a girl. And while there was a coming-out-to-the-parents scene, their sexual orientation was never a big deal or the main focus of the story. It was accepted, as it should be, and I was glad it was written that way. They were a beyond cute couple, writing together and exploring the city, one noodle restaurant at a time. I liked Imogen, but for the longest time, I wasn’t sure I trusted her (and I’m not giving any spoilers on whether or not I was right!). About halfway through the book, I started getting annoyed with Darcy. Putting off her work, feeling like she was nothing without her girlfriend, and blowing through her money…I wanted to tell her to grow up and start acting like she deserved this unbelievable life she had stumbled into! But then I realized she was acting pretty much like every other 18-year-old would act, and I knew at some point she would learn some hard lessons and figure things out. The Afterworlds portion of the storyline (with Lizzie) started off really intensely, and I was immediately pulled in. Then after awhile, I felt like Lizzie was wandering around with no purpose. I was anxious for her to DO something – really embrace her new role and her powers and become that little Valkyrie. There were some really great creepy scenes with her exploring the Afterworld, and the descriptions of the places she visited were very vivid and well-written. My least favorite part of Lizzie’s storyline was her relationship with Yama, her hot Hindu death god. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why, I just didn’t feel any real heat or chemistry, and I never got attached to Yama. Their story was written very chastely, which I thought may have been intentional, since Darcy was so inexperienced. I also really liked how well the secondary characters were written in both storylines– Darcy’s younger sister Nisha, the YA authors, and Lizzie’s little ghost friend Mindy. I could never decide which storyline I liked more – there were times I couldn’t wait to get back to Lizzie, and times I just wanted to hear more about Darcy. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld was narrated by Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind. I enjoyed both narrators and thought they did a good job with the varying voices and accents. The book definitely left room for a sequel, and I’m hoping that “Untitled Patel” will get a title and we’ll get to hear more from Darcy and Lizzie.
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