Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

afterworldsSynopsis: 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.

My thoughts: I really can’t believe I haven’t heard of this book before. I don’t know how it’s not more popular (an awesome new idea by Scott Westerfeld anyone?) and how in the world I found a beautiful new hardcover edition in the Barnes and Noble clearance bin. But I did. And I was stoked.

I’ve never read a book quite like this one: it’s about a high school senior named Darcy who gets an amazing publishing deal for her novel ‘Afterworlds’. She leaves her somewhat reserved family in Philly and moves to the dazzling New York City to chase her dream and immerse herself in the new publishing world she wants so badly to be a part of. However, every chapter switches between Darcy’s quest for authorship and the novel she wrote.

At first, I wasn’t really jiving with the story of Lizzie in ‘Afterworlds’ and found myself wishing to just read about Darcy. I loved Darcy. I loved her and everyone she met, and I love the way we saw her grow and change and learn. Plus, as a teenage author, I devoured through her story, living vicariously (with some jealousy, I’ll admit) at the wonderful and terrifying and exhausting life of getting published. I loved every part of her journey.

The problem was, I didn’t like ‘Afterworlds’ the novel from the start. The first chapter was soooo good, but then it quickly changed to almost supernatural in some ways, and I didn’t like that as much. I also didn’t really like the love interest at first. It took several chapters before I came to like Darcy’s novel. By the middle though, I came to love it. I wanted to know what happened. And while it was somewhat beautifully frustrating to get so involved in one of their stories, only to have it switch at the chapter break, my absolute favorite thing was watching how the stories interwove together. Maybe it’s just because I’m a writer, so I know the feeling, but I thought it was so well done. Especially the endings. It was amazing to see how Darcy and Lizzie influenced and directed each other, and it truly illustrates just how fiction can come to life.

Rated 4/5 for such a refreshing and clever idea, brilliant storytelling, and writer’s love