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Afterworlds Paperback – September 29, 2015
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
*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)
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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.
Yet in comparison to the rest of the Westerfeld YA stable, Afterworlds seems really out of left field. It's partly a tribute, partly a send up of YA writing, publishing, emerging trends and the eternal quest of the market for something new"ish".
Afterworlds has something to say on so many levels. It is certainly a guide on "how to" write a YA novel. It speaks on the need to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in main stream YA writing, for example, sexualities.
The biggest disappointment was that the YA writing/publishing reveal in Afterworlds seemed, occasionally, so didactic and cynical it precluded enjoyment of both the narrative strands in the novel. I had a serial love/ hate/ love relationship with this book.
Most recent customer reviews
-Most of the Chracters: They were creative and new. Or maybe that's just because I hardly ever read contemporary and I never read a paranormal romance before.Read more