Scott Westerfeld is a genius. Once in a while I come across a novel that cleverly blends two narratives in a unique way; however, Afterworlds has taken this to a whole new level.
Our first character is Darcy Patel, a teenage girl who is excited and terrified that her first novel, coincidentally named Afterworlds, is going to be published. She quits college, and while experiencing apprehension about having her book edited and published, begins dating another writer new to the scene. I won’t tell you who, because, honestly, you won’t expect it.
Then we have our second main character, who is another teenage girl simply named Lizzie. After a near-death experience during a terrorist attack, she realizes she is what others call a “psychopomp” – a spirit guide who also acts as a grim reaper for ghosts. Enter Yamaraj, a Hindu boy who protects souls from rogue reapers and evil spirits.
What do these two narratives have in common? Lizzie is the main character of Darcy’s soon-to-be published novel.
Afterworlds is one young adult novel that all writers should read. It vividly shows the stress and fear involved in the complicated process of having a book or story published.
I also enjoyed the narrative structure. It’s like watching Suzanne Collins as she writes the first Hunger Games book, but both narratives are entertaining enough to keep you interested.
The chemistry between Yamaraj and Lizzie seems somewhat flat, mainly because they don’t see each other very much. However, you can make a constructive argument that Westerfeld wrote it that way to show how much Darcy can improve.
Either way, I never got bored. If Afterworlds sounds intriguing to you, check it out and feel what it’s like to step into the shoes of an author.
On a side note: I had this review published in the nationwide magazine Teen Ink, which is copyrighted under my alias DomusVocis. Here’s a link to it: http://www.teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/745913/Afterworlds-by-Scott-Westerfeld/
If you have any questions or already have an opinion on the novel, feel free to leave any comments. Thanks!