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Afterworlds Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel's dream has come true. A publisher has accepted the novel she wrote, and she has received a significant advance for it and the unwritten sequel. Deferring her college plans, Darcy moves to New York City and joins the YA publishing world. Amidst parties with other authors, exploring the city, and endless rewrites, Darcy meets and falls for fellow author Imogen Gray. Unfolding in alternate chapters is Darcy's novel, Afterworlds, in which teenage Lizzie survives a terrorist attack at an airport by crossing over to the realm between the living and the dead. There she meets Yama, the Hindu death god in the body of a 17-year-old boy, and the two feel an instant attraction. Lizzie now has the power to interact with ghosts in both worlds, which leads her down a dangerous path. Dual readers Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind solidly narrate the two stories. Sheetal effectively portrays Darcy's youth as she navigates the new worlds of publishing and romantic relationships. Lind captures Lizzie's struggles with moral decisions and provides an appropriately calm, accented voice for the death god Yama. The dynamic of the two separate story lines proves fascinating as if the plot of Afterworlds changes and evolves as Darcy edits her draft.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
*STARRED REVIEW* Eighteen-year-old Darcy drops her college plans and moves to New York to revise her soon-to-bepublished novel and start the second one. Meanwhile, in chapters that alternate with Darcy’s NYC adventures, her fictional protagonist, Lizzie, survives a near-death experience to find she has become a psychopomp, responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife. Westerfeld masterfully creates two divergent reading experiences (YA romance and fantasy horror) with two distinct yet believable voices in Darcy and Lizzie—and, somehow, makes them mesh into one cohesive novel. In addition to the details of the fully realized story worlds—and that's worlds plural, as this is a busy book, with content drawn from Gujarati culture and Indian religion—this book includes romantic entanglements, a charming lesbian love story, terrorism and justice, and insider references to the YA publishing and literature scene (including several references to the Michael L. Printz Award) that will have librarians grinning in delight. Westerfeld deftly and subtly captures Darcy’s immature authorial voice, even including a few underdeveloped plot points that differentiate it from his own polished prose. There are no notes about cultural sources, but an extended conversation between (fictional) YA authors explores these issues, offering a few perspectives on respect and appropriateness. Get plenty; this one won’t stay on the shelves. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Westerfeld, author of the hugely popular Uglies and Leviathan series, goes meta in a big way (this thing is the size of an anvil). Expect tons of YA-world gabbing and gushing. (July 2014 Booklist)
During National Novel Writing Month, Darcy Patel, 18, pounds out a “Hindu paranormal romance” that earns her an advance hefty enough to fund a college education. Alas, Darcy has other ideas, moving to Manhattan to do rewrites and deferring admission to Oberlin. What follows are two stories, told in alternating chapters: Darcy’s path to publication, and the final draft of the book she wrote, also titled Afterworlds. Darcy’s new experiences inform her revision: falling in love for the first time makes her rethink the romance in her book. Her protagonist Lizzie’s story is more explosive, beginning with a terrorist attack that she survives by so thoroughly pretending to be dead that she slips into a ghost world, where she meets Yamaraj, a hunky “soul guide.” The back-and-forth between Darcy’s story and her thriller is dizzying, but “Reading Zealots” like the kids Darcy hung with in high school will love the insider details about the YA writer’s life—the intimidating editorial letter, attending BEA (Darcy naively brings her own canvas tote). An ambitious concept, well executed. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Sept.) (Publishers Weekly, 6/30/14 *STARRED)
“A masterful accomplishment . . . unmistakably Westerfeld, in full command of a
prodigious talent, doing something complicated and difficult and
making it look easy, even as it grabs you and drags you through its
dark streets, laughing and crying along with both Darcy and Lizzie.” (Cory Doctorow boingboing.net) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Afterworlds could only have been written by one of the best. In my opinion, Westerfeld is -the- best in YA. His familiarity of the craft allowed him to write an experimental novel that has done something new. If this were shelved in the Adult section of bookstores it would be considered experimental on a revolutionary scale, like Woolf and Faulkner's first tries at stream-of-consciousness.
This book is a celebration of books, but not in the way any other book is. Westerfeld has done something new. He shows us how books are made. By having his character make one.
Other reviews have complained that Lizzie – Darcy’s protagonist – has a story that doesn’t “feel quite right.” I hate to sound snobbish, but these reviews miss the point.
Darcy’s novel – the one with Lizzie in it – is not a finished book. It’s meant to be the in-progress draft of a first time novelist. Which, when you think about it, is amazing, because Westerfeld is not a first time novelist, he’s a seasoned one, but he’s showing us a story that, despite having its glimpses of literary value, isn’t finished. It isn’t edited. We can still care about some of the half-formed characters. For example, Jamie is Lizzie’s best friend, and even though we get to see some great scenes with her, Darcy receives comments for her editor in one scene, and her editor’s description of Jamie’s character reads:
"Jamie: 17, has car, lives with father"
'“‘Has car’? That’s it?” she cried out. No hair color, no brothers or sisters? No particular race? […] As Afterworlds had unfolded, Jamie had grown into someone quietly amazing. […]
And she was nothing but a cardboard silhouette.'
This comes moments after realizing that, in the whole novel, she never assigned her a protagonist a hair color.
So to all those people complaining about the vague “wrongness” they felt while reading Lizzie’s half: Duh. There are too many chapters of exposition, the pacing is off at certain points, one character randomly gets a name in the final few chapters after previously being called “the old man” over and over again, and our protagonist never gets a hair color. And all of this is on top of a whole other can of worms that Westerfeld was brave enough to open, which is cultural appropriation.
Darcy made Lizzie’s love interest the Hindu god of death. Darcy and her friends discuss this (no spoilers):
Darcy: “Did you find any of that offensive, Sagan? Like, as a Hindu?”
Sagan: “It seemed weird at first, but then I figured that it wasn’t a problem, because there’s no Hinduism in your universe.”
Sagan: “Well, you know when Lizzie googles all those death gods? At first I didn’t get why she never ran into the concept of Yama.”
Darcy: “Because that would be weird. […] He’s not a god in my world, he’s a person.”
Sagan: “Exactly. So I figured that the Angelina Jolie Paradox applies.”
Darcy: “The what now?”
Sagan: “You know when you’re watching a movie starring Angelina Jolie? And the character she’s playing looks just like Angelina Jolie, right?”
Darcy: “Um, yes. Because that’s who she is.”
Sagan: “No, she’s a regular person in that world, not a movie star. But the other characters never mention that she looks exactly like Angelina Jolie. No one ever comes up to her on the street and says, ‘Can I have your autograph?’ […] [W]hen you cast Angelina Jolie in a film, you’re creating an alternate universe in which Angelina Jolie does not exist. Because otherwise people would be noticing the resemblance all the time. This is what I call the Angelina Jolie Paradox.”
Darcy: “What does this have to do with my book?”
Sagan: “Well, given that Lizzie’s been researching death gods, and yet somehow never realizes that her boyfriend is an actual death god for, like, eight hundred million Hindus, I assume your book takes place in a universe in which Hinduism does not exist.”
Carla: “You just erased your own religion.”
Westerfeld’s making a political point. He’s also threatening to send Lizzie’s story – a story that has, so far, completely captured the reader – into a nonsensical mess. He strips away the illusion that the rules of Lizzie’s world make sense, taking away the authoritative tone of every novel ever. First he goes here’s your world, believe in it and love it. Then he goes just kidding, those were only words I was flashing in front of you.
Because that’s what novels are. That’s how they’re made. Kristin Cashore, fantasy YA author, has this great speech about how, in one of her novels, she needed to occupy her characters for several months, so she conjured up a nearly-impassable mountain in the middle of her world and had them travel through it. Then, in her next novel, one character needed to tell news to another character very quickly. Problem: In the last book she’d put a nearly-impassable mountain between them.
Of course, when you read both books, the mountain is a literal part of the landscape; her creative solutions and months of banging her head against the wall (I imagine) go unseen. Book-making is a rocky and arduous endeavor that usually only readers who write can truly understand. But Westerfeld thought of a layered way to help non-readers understand (and it’s a whole, whole lot of fun for writers to read, too).
This book takes you through the steps of becoming a writer and moving to New York. Darcy’s bits were total, fun fantasy for any aspiring writer. But she is definitely locked into our real world. There are a couple of doing-the-laundry and buying-mops scenes in her life, while, on Lizzie’s end, you get an astral projection and a ghost-love story that’s actually a simulated first draft of a novel.
Westerfeld’s imagination and problem-solving skills must have been stretched further than ever before. The results are mind-bending.
Oh this book, this book, this book let me tell you about this book. This book is a breath of fresh air and will make you think about authors, writing, and stories and how exactly everything with writing and books goes together.
It’s a complicated yet awesome concept that uses alternate chapters very well as you hear both Lizzie and Darcy’s story. It’s a mixture of contemporary and paranormal YA so it has a little bit of everything yet each story kind of stays in it’s own separate sphere. This book is hard to explain but it's different in a very meta/interesting kind of way.
You’re reading the story about an author of a book, the publishing process pretty much what the author goes through, and the book that author’s writing. Along with the author's relationship and how she changes the book. Overall an indepth look at the writing process and the crazy ride of publishing.
There are a lot of great/intense relationships in the book. I liked Darcy and Imogen's relationship because it's messy and definitely not perfect. They really have to work for their goals.
This mashed together book is so good that I would love to read the complete stories mentioned/each individual thread would make a great single book too.
I adore both the endings of Afterworlds (the book within the book called Afterworlds and the end of Darcy’s last chapter in the book.) I wish more YA novels and everything else I read ended like this with sometimes unhappy yet perfect endings.
[MILD SPOILER WARNING:
I thought for a while the stories would bleed into each other in a more radical way, which would have been awesome, but he held himself back which is too bad - there was a real opportunity hear for a mind blowing exploration of the fourth wall]
I liked the chapters from Darcy's point of view because they talk so much about the writing process and the publishing process. We see Darcy working with her editor and revising her work. We see her laboring over her words and struggling to find an ending both she and her publishers can live with. We see her fear of ending of novel, She wants to keep improving it. We see Darcy meeting and interacting with both new and established YA writers. We also see what it is like for authors to go on book tours.
I enjoyed the novel Darcy was writing too though it would have been too scary for me if it had been a standalone novel. Some of the scenes sent chills up my spine and had me checking to see if my doors were locked.
This was a wonderful book for young adults interested in writing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As many prospective readers (and those who have already read this) know that this is two books in one.Read more