Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back and Forth: Afterworlds

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Simon Pulse, Expected Release Date: September 23, 2014

*e-Galley provided by the publisher via Edelweiss - thank you! This in no way impacted my opinions of the book.*

Darcy Patel has won the literary lottery. At only 18 years old, not only has she written her first novel, but she got an agent, sold her manuscript in a huge two book deal, and is now moving to New York instead of her planned dorm room in Ohio so she can be full time writer for a few years. But living the dream isn't quite what Darcy thought it would be (not that she really knew what to expect). Then there's Darcy's book itself, Afterworlds, the suspenseful paranormal romance thriller about a girl who survives a terrorist attack and finds herself able to slide between the land of the living and into the Afterworld, where the dead reside.

This book is a true example of getting two novels for the price of one. Literally. Chapters alternate between the two stories, each one a full-length work resulting in a massive 600 page journey. Readers must be in the mood, therefore, for two things: 1) a big book and 2) wanting to read both straight-up contemporary and paranormal romance at the same time. This second part was a bit of a challenge for me at the time of reading - the paranormal chapters, while very well written and engaging, were just not something I was completely in the mood for when I picked this up. Lizzie and Yamaraj, these chapters' protagonists, are well considered and go on a captivating journey. Westerfeld could easily write a sequel just focusing on them (and I hope he does!). An interesting facet of this particular story-in-a-story is that Darcy is becoming a more seasoned writer as she's editing and rewriting, and we get to see that as the book goes on.

While I may not have been completely in the mood for paranormal, I was deeply interested and invested in the contemporary side of this story. Darcy doesn't always make the right choices. In fact, she makes a lot of choices that made me wince (mostly in terms of how she mishandles her financials), but those choices were incredibly realistic given her extraordinary situation. While much of Darcy's world is book related, it's not her whole world. She's discovering New York, learning how to live on her own, in her first relationship, and figuring out the publishing industry from the eye of the storm.

I've never read anything by Westerfeld before, and this was quite an introduction to his style and body of work. If you are in the mood for contemporary, romance, action, adventure, ghosts, and really a little bit of everything, check out Afterworlds when it hits book shelves September 23rd.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Scott Westerfeld's Website
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