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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex, probing novel wrapped up in a minimalistic, lyrical package of prose
It's been a really long time since I've read a YA book with such a refreshing premise--no vampires, complicated love triangles, or anything remotely Hunger Games-esque here! Now, Elsewhere was published way before the current of "trendy" YA fiction began to flow, which stresses its originality, and its purpose on bookshelves today.

I love the take on...
Published 17 months ago by Karielle @ Books à la Mode

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been more - 3.2
"Elsewhere" is a great example of a "could-have-been". The premise has intrigue, the characters have momentary special sparks, and the entire story at times comes together neatly and nicely. Plus, the book is totally fun to read. Then again, we don't rate books based on what they could have been. And that's where "Elsewhere" falls.

Zevin's simple writing is...
Published on February 1, 2009 by Biblibio


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex, probing novel wrapped up in a minimalistic, lyrical package of prose, March 21, 2013
This review is from: Elsewhere (Paperback)
It's been a really long time since I've read a YA book with such a refreshing premise--no vampires, complicated love triangles, or anything remotely Hunger Games-esque here! Now, Elsewhere was published way before the current of "trendy" YA fiction began to flow, which stresses its originality, and its purpose on bookshelves today.

I love the take on reincarnation that's detailed--it's fascinating, imaginative, and immersed me completely from page one! Zevin is also highly accomplished at creating relatable, completely memorable characters. The limited third-person point of view makes Liz rather distant, but she's still easy to appreciate. She's as neurotic and elaborate as any adolescent is: impressively mature at times, but frustratingly childish at others. I feel she's a bit naïve for a nearly-sixteen-year-old; don't get me wrong: her characterization is amazing, but her superficial portrayal is a little contradicting at times. As a teenage girl, though, she is perfectly accurate. Zevin couldn't have depicted the conflicting feelings and angsts of the modern teenager any better.

Elsewhere is a feel-good novel that keeps you tense and uneasy while reading, but leaves you both breathless and sighing in relief by the turn of the last page. It offers brilliant perspective on experiencing things to the fullest and never underestimating those around you who love you. Through Liz's journey in Elsewhere, spending her life in reverse, I learned that life isn't measured in hours and minutes; it's the quality that matters, not the length. And we, as people, grow with those experiences, not with age.

Young adults will devour this book, and better yet, parents will approve of it because of its tasteful, positive portrayal of life's decisions and values. Zevin's style is evocative, dreamy, and almost transcendent--I'm definitely eager to try some of her other books now.

With a dash of charming romance, wry humor, and life-loving sentiments, Elsewhere engages readers into an afterlife where people falsely are under the impression that they know what will be JUST because they know the amount of time they have left to "live." But like I mentioned, it's experiences that matter, not time; this secret, Liz and readers discover, in the most delightful and adventurous of ways. In the town of Elsewhere, Liz has the chance to live again, to live as she never got to on Earth. To fall in love. To get a job. To know the part of her family she has never known. And she's going to have to make the most of it because even though it may not be clear all the time, good things happen everyday, even when bad things happen first.

Pros: Well-explored characters // Perfect ending // I was cheering at every one of Zevin's plot choices // Lyrical // Stylistically flawless // Plot is incredibly smart, entertaining, and touching // Very easy // Flows smoothly // Unpredictable // Not a high thriller, but its twists and turns are equally unnerving // Romance is perfectly placed // Deep in message of youth, forgiveness, and the meaning of life // Creative premise // Fresh ideas // Sweet, memorable analogies // Owen ♥_♥ // Curtis ♥_♥

Cons: Not particularly suspenseful... I was glued to the pages, but not exactly dying to know what happened next // Liz is frustrating at times, but I guess it's all part of her character!

Love: "The summer air is thick with perfume from Betty's flowers. The scent, Liz thinks, is sweet and melancholy. A bit like dying, a bit like falling in love."

Verdict: Elsewhere is a complex, probing novel wrapped up in a minimalistic, lyrical package of prose. In the vein of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, this book is haunting, affecting, and deeply resonant, and is sure to be a hit among middle-grade and teenage readers (ages 11-16), but even better, among adults as well; the universality makes it all the more impressive. Hilarious in some parts and alarming in others, Gabrielle Zevin's surprisingly and pleasantly touching otherworldly story will make you fall in love--with your friends and family, with your life, and with yourself--and satisfy you completely.

9 out of 10 hearts (5 stars): Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf.

Source: Purchased.
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88 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read nothing else READ THIS BOOK !!!, October 11, 2005
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
I believe this to be

one of the best books I have ever read.

I absolutely loved this book.

Lizzie is killed in a hit and run accident and Elsewhere is the story of

her ' afterlife '. I don't wish to write any more than that because this

book is an absolute must- read. To tell more of the story would be to

spoil a book that will really challenge your beliefs and perspective

about life after death. No-one really knows what happens after death.

Each reader will bring their own personal philosophy to Zevin's story,

but what became apparent as I progressed through the book was that if

life after death was like the Elsewhere of the story, human beings would

fear death less and learn to appreciate wherever they are in their stage

of development in-life and after-life.

Zevin has taken such an everyday concept, turned it on its head and

written what can only be described as a convincing believable story

about where we go and what happens to everyone when they die.

The tone is hopeful, the prose realistic and beautiful. The ending is

utterly perfect. The story is infused with life lessons and gentle

morals without being sanctimonious in the least. In some ways I find it

hard to say all that I really feel about this book, that my words will

not do justice to the story.

Zevin has left no stone unturned. Her tale covers: what happens to

animals, how you progress to the ' afterlife,' how you make contact with

life on earth, and how you become reborn, amongst many other questions

people have about ' what happens when you die ?'. The story is in no way

contrived but highly plausible. I found myself crying consistently on

and off throughout the story, not because it was sad, but because it was

so buoyant and made so much sense about dealing with what is almost

always a disagreeable topic.

Elsewhere is a book that good readers of 13 and above would enjoy. It

poses so many philosophical questions and ideas that would be excellent

for use in a " Gifted and Talented " class. The idea of getting younger

as opposed to getting older would be an excellent starting point for

some creative writing. Students often want to get older quickly before

they've had chance to experience being young, so the possibility of

becoming younger and debating what happens at the point of birth could

open up some amazing philosophical discussion.

In short this book is brilliant. If you read nothing else for the rest

of the year, read this.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, September 5, 2005
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
I went to the book store the other day, and I was picking and choosing my way through the YA section when this one caught my eye. Glancing at the cover, it didn't look too much different from the others on the New Reads shelf, but one glance inside and I realized how special this book is.

Right in the store, I read the first few pages, making sure it wasn't another frothy, badly written popularity-and-such book. And it wasn't. I practically threw away the book I had specifically come to buy, and spent the entire night reading this instead. As someone else has already mentioned, I started crying near the end, and continued to do so for about ten minutes afterward. This book touches a nerve somewhere deep down, where we all wonder about death, life, and love. (And in case you're wondering, I've only cried at one book before, and no movies ever, so this is a big deal) This book is unassuming at first glance, but reading it made me think about the big things that I think we all wonder about, the things that book should be about. I am pleased that somebody still knows that YA books don't have to be trashy-teen-movie style. Read this book, it's fabulous.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waking Up Dead, October 17, 2005
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
Liz Hall wakes up dead one morning. That's definitely not the way to start off the day.

At first, she thinks it's all a dream, but then she remembers being hit by a car. The realization sets in that she'll never fall in love, never get her driver's license, and never see her family again. She spends her days on the observation deck where passengers can peek into the lives of their loved ones still alive. It takes Liz's dead grandmother to show Liz that death is worth living and that it's possible to have all the things she thought she'd lost even if she's going to have to live her life backwards.

A great young adult and older story about living life (or death) to the fullest.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, August 24, 2005
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
Welcome to Elsewhere, where life simultaneously has ended and is beginning all at the same time.

After an unfortunate (in more ways than one) collision with a taxi cab, Elizabeth M. Hall (please call her Liz!) finds herself on a cruise ship filled with very elderly people, save for her 16 year old roomate Thandiwe (please call her Thandie!) and a famous blue eyed and blue haired rocker named Curtis. Together, they discover that they are dead and are headed to a land that everyone goes to live until they are reborn to live again on Earth.

The world is strangely concrete. Beyond the fact that no one is born and no one dies, it is strangely familiar - of course with some exceptions. (There are ways to watch the living, you take a job though you don't really need the money, you can fall in love but the (lack of) aging process means disparities in age are common...) Over time they all learn to live (or die?), and somehow simultaneously become more mature for these experiences while becoming younger biologically.

I had no idea this book was geared towards young adults when I read it, and am happy to report it is well suited to adults. After reading the description I thought it would be a version of the Lovely Bones, but despite the fact that in both books the narrator is a deceased female teenager, they are quite disparate in tone. It's simulataneously comical, sad, hopeful and romantic, and the exercise your imagination will get trying to imagine some of the scenes is worth the price of admission all on it's own.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death on the SS Nile, September 10, 2008
This review is from: Elsewhere (Paperback)
"Woman hold her head and cry;
Comforting her I was passing by.
She complained, then she cry"
(Lyrics from "Johnny Was" by Bob Marley)

Lizzie Hall thinks she's dreaming.

She's dreaming she's on a ship
And she's bald
And she has a room-mate named Thandiwe
And she's got stitches over her ear
And Thandi has a hole in her head
From a stray bullet

And then she starts to remember

She remembers heading for the mall
With a friend
To pick a dress for her friend for the prom
And she remembers her bicycle
And a taxicab
And a collision

And finally she realizes

That's she's really on a ship
To Elsewhere
Which is where you go
When your number comes up
And there ain't no heaven or hell -
Just Elsewhere

In this unique vision of the afterlife, the recently deceased find themselves aboard the SS Nile, bound for Elsewhere. The thing about Elsewhere is that it's just like "here", with houses and cars and jobs, except that people age backwards, getting younger every year.

"What happens when you hit the big zero?" you may ask.

Let's just say that in Elsewhere, recycling is the way to go, gently down the stream, without a paddle.

At first, fifteen year old Lizzie finds it hard to adjust to not being alive, but with the love and support of her now middle-aged grandmother, she is finally able to find her niche in death. Along the way she makes mistakes, but she also makes life-long friends, although of course that's a variable factor anywhere.

A "coming of age" story in reverse and an intriguing concept (albeit a little over-simplified in certain aspects) this book is recommended for ages twelve and up, but definitely one to be considered.

Amanda Richards, September 10, 2008
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Field Trip to Elsewhere, October 11, 2005
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
An original concept, even post Lovely Bones. Unlike Turnabout by Haddix, where the elderly chose to live backwards in time, Liz, fifteen, almost sixteen, has died and been sent to Elsewhere to live death in reverse until she can be reborn. And she's not too happy about it. Touching, funny, and a great discussion book. This little gem of a read offers a new light in the life after death genre that is so trendy these days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, July 28, 2006
By 
readsalot (Billings, MT) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
This book haunts me still, days after I've read it. Imagine being 15, and dead. Never having a 16th birthday. Just learning how to drive, and never having a license. Finding out that your aging will now be reversed, until you are again a baby, and again ready to go back to earth. And then imagine falling in love for the first time...........

This was a wonderful story. Definitely one worth revisiting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been more - 3.2, February 1, 2009
This review is from: Elsewhere (Paperback)
"Elsewhere" is a great example of a "could-have-been". The premise has intrigue, the characters have momentary special sparks, and the entire story at times comes together neatly and nicely. Plus, the book is totally fun to read. Then again, we don't rate books based on what they could have been. And that's where "Elsewhere" falls.

Zevin's simple writing is charming at first, but soon grows to be flat and bland. Characters start out with a feeling like they'll flesh out soon, but never really do. They remain pretty two-dimensional throughout the entire book. The romance theme is a bit weird at times (backwards timing?) and the whole premise is strange enough to make your head spin at times. The book is really nice to read (a quick, easy read), but the writing grows dull quickly and the plot never really lifts off. There are enough plot holes to make an intelligent young reader raise their eyebrows and the ridiculous moments ultimately take away from the good parts.

Honestly, "Elsewhere" is a mediocre book. In some respects it's good (simple writing keeps the reader hooked from start to finish), but in others it fails to deliver (character growth and plot development are fairly nonexistent). It was fun to read but did little for my senses. It's also very much a girl's book. It's difficult for boys to find something in Liz's character to relate to. Yes, some moments are intriguing to think about and almost touching (losing the ability to read as time goes backwards, forgetting your loved ones, moving on). Then again, others aren't.

"Elsewhere" had the potential and premise to be a really great book. Instead, it's an okay book for girls, a fun read for a lazy afternoon. It's nice; not much beyond that. Zevin's book may appeal to some more than others (pre-teen girls looking for semi-romantic semi-philosophical books) but it by no means falls into the "great" category. Good, by a hair.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An award-winner for sure!, June 11, 2006
This review is from: Elsewhere (Hardcover)
This is by far the BEST book I've read this year.

Just what exactly happens when you die?

Fifteen-year-old Liz is the victim of a hit-and-run accident. When she wakes up, she finds herself on a cruise ship, her destination: Elsewhere. Poor Liz thinks that she will soon wake up in her own bed, back at home, to deal with this very strange dream. When she views her own funeral from an Observation Deck on the ship, she is forced to face reality: she is dead. She mourns the loss of her life. Not only the idea of turning 16 and getting a driver's license, but also falling in love, having a first kiss, going to the prom, and graduating from high school.

When she arrives in Elsewhere, Liz is greeted by her grandmother, Betty, who had died before she was born. Betty takes Liz home and tries to help her get situated in her "new life". In Elsewhere, Betty explains, people age backwards, until they are infants again, and can be released back to Earth.

Liz discovers that she is able to view the ones she loves on Earth, by way of the Observation Decks, which are located all around Elsewhere. She spends her first months (and a lot of her grandmother's money) gazing into the binoculars to see what her friends and family are doing. Her parents cry a lot and seem unable to function, her little brother, Alvy, seems to need more attention than he is getting, and her beloved Pug, Lucy, misses Liz desperately.

Liz finally realizes that she needs to live and make the most of the life that she has, even if it is now a life in reverse. She makes new friends and also starts to work for the Division of Domestic Animals, where she helps recently departed pets deal with their new lives in Elsewhere, while helping to find new homes for them. It is here that Liz finds that she can speak Canine and have regular conversations with dogs (an interesting concept, later in the book, when Lucy arrives in Elsewhere).

This is a book that will definitely make you think. What really happens to people (and pets) when they die? Is there some sort of afterlife? The idea of "Elsewhere" in this book is a comforting one, if you'd like to believe that the ones you love and who pass on just go somewhere else and live again, doing something that they really enjoy, before heading back to Earth to be reborn. It's an amazing concept, and one that, while reading this book, I wished were true. This was a hard book to put down. I read it in just a few hours, but have thought about it constantly since I finished the last page. It is a must-read for anyone over the age of 12 or 13 and is one that you are not likely to forget.
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Elsewhere
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (Paperback - May 15, 2007)
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