Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 608 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from Edelweiss
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got an eGalley of this book to review through Edelweiss. I have been a fan of Westerfeld’s books for quite a while. I enjoyed his Uglies series (both the full length books and the graphic novels), and adored his Leviathan series. I have yet to read his Midnighters series but it’s sitting on my shelf waiting for me to do so. I was very excited to see what he would write about next. Afterworlds was an interesting but ultimately somewhat disappointing read.
This book follows two storylines that alternate back and forth (something I have been seeing more and more in YA novels lately). The first storyline is the story of Darcy Patel, a seventeen year old girl who gets a novel called Afterworlds published in a dream deal. Darcy gets a huge advance for a two novel deal and ends up living in New York City, working and hobnobbing with other YA authors.
The alternating storyline is actually Patel’s novel Afterworlds. This storyline follows a girl named Lizzie who survives a vicious terrorist attack, but in doing so she is drawn into a world between our world and death where she meets a boy who seems to be some sort of death god. Lizzie works on learning how to use her new ability to enter this between space to see ghosts (it reminded me of the Grey from Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series) and decides to try to solve a mystery surrounding the murder of a number of young girls.
Darcy’s story was pretty good. I enjoyed watching her struggle in New York and navigate the publishing world from the author side of things. This was an excellent coming of age story that was engaging and interesting. My only complaint is that Darcy gets this huge writing advance for Afterworlds, and Afterworlds (Darcy’s book) honestly kind of sucks. Much of the book is Darcy going through edits for Afterworlds and this was actually pretty interesting.
My huge problem with this book was Darcy’s story Afterworlds. It really isn’t that good. It starts out with this awesomely intense terrorist attack and then goes downhill from there. I really really think there was no way Darcy would have gotten a huge advance for this type of story. Lizzie’s story (Darcy’s Afterworlds book) has some interesting concepts in it but isn’t very well fleshed out. It honestly ends up being pretty boring. As the book continued I started dreading reading Lizzie’s story and Darcy’s story was much more engaging. The question of whether or not Darcy was going to finish her book on time was way more compelling than Lizzie solving the murder of all these little girls.
Sooo…I think the main problem here is that this is two books woven into one and it just doesn’t work well. Lizzie’s story ends up suffering in the end and Darcy’s story ends up suffering in the beginning. Maybe that is the point…that somewhere along the way real life becomes more engaging than fiction. However, even if that is the point it makes for an inconsistent read throughout. I ended up not liking the story all that much and it really went slow. This was a long book and it really really felt like it.
Overall an interesting idea that didn’t work out all that well. Lizzie’s story starts out as very engaging but then kind of fizzles as it goes on, getting drawn out and boring. Darcy’s story starts a bit slow and then builds momentum. In the end I felt like I was getting jerked back and forth between the two stories and I had trouble engaging with the characters. The whole thing was okay, but fell a bit flat for me. Not the best Westerfeld book out there.