Friday, 5 September 2014

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld

Pages: 608
Publisher: S&S
Release Date: 25th September 2014
Edition: NetGalley proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue Noon; Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras; Parasite Positive, TheLast Days; Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath

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 a when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

I’m a huge fan of Scott Westerfeld’s so news of Afterworlds after a good few years of no new books from him came with great excitement. Those three years produced something seriously excellent.

Afterworlds is a novel within a novel. We alternate between Darcy’s road to publication, living away from home for the first time and falling in love and Lizzie getting to grips with her brush with death, falling for a lord of death and navigating the dangerous waters of the Afterworld. This novel combines a contemporary bildungsroman and a paranormal romance, two opposing genres that should clash. But they don’t. Darcy and Lizzie’s story weave effortlessly around each other and neither seems more important than the other; they just worked together.

The look into the life of an author between being signed and publication was fascinating. The stress of edits, the fear of reader author friends’ novels, wondering if you actually count as an author yet, meetings with agents and editors, becoming a full-time writer. I think that being a full-time author is a very romanticised idea and Scott Westerfeld shed some reality onto it, but still, perfect life, I think. Then we have Lizzie sliding between the world we know and the world made of memories, constantly shifting and changing and always dangerous.

Westerfeld tackled a lot of hot topics in Afterworlds: terrorism, death, parental divorce, LGBT love (I was really excited to see this relationship happen with no fanfare and no advertisement in the book’s promo of an LGBT element – progress), leaving home, friendship, love. Though the scope is wide I don’t think that they just received a cursory glance and then were waved off, but they also weren’t delved into so deeply that you felt like you were being preached at. They were as they should be: part of life, sometimes more significant than others. I think Westerfeld struck a wonderful balance.

Afterworlds is a genre-bending, issue-tackling, feat of a novel that I devoured. I think that few others than Scott Westerfeld could write something like it.

Thanks to S&S and NetGalley for the review copy.


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