Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Hola!  Guess what?  I finished another book, YAY ME!  Sorry, still a bit sleep deprived and loopy, but very very happy to have gotten a chance to read Afterworlds by one of my favorites Scott Westerfeld.  I actually got this book back around January with one of the gift cards Hubbin got me, but have just now gotten to read it.  Do I love it?  Lets find out, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
This is a bit of a tricky one to sum up, so I'll just try and quickly get the basic points across.  The premise of the book is unique in that it alternates chapters between an actual story and the fictional author who wrote it...confused yet?  It seems very complicated, but it actually works very smoothly.  I will sum up the two stories separately so that we don't get to mixed up.
 The Story - The story portion of the book (helpfully highlighted in black) is called Afterworlds and is the story of Lizzy a girl who survives a horrific terrorist attack by playing dead.  She plays dead so well that she accidentally finds her way to the Afterworld.  In this strange world of the dead she meets Yama a supernatural hottie who has been the lord of the underworld for a very long time.  He sends Lizzie back to the world of the living where she discovers that she can now see ghosts.  She discovers she is what is commonly referred to as a psychopomp, a living person who can navigate the afterworld and guide the souls of the dead.  Lizzy also meets Mindy, the ghost of her mothers friend who was murdered when she was 11 years old.  Lizzy uses her new powers to try and help Mindy out, all while getting all kissy faced with Yama, and learning some very intresting and disturbing techniques from Mr. Hamlyn, a twisted psychopomp who has taken a liking to our heroine.  Lizzy ends up killing the man who killed Mindy and this causes a rift between her and Yama.  She is sad, but learns to move on with her little ghost friend and carries on with her life on both sides.
The Writer - The other half of the book (helpfully marked in white) is about the author of the above story.  Darcy Patel is an Indian-American 18 year old who wrote the book in her last year of highschool.  She gets a huge signing deal for the first book and it's unwritten sequel which makes it possible for her to move to New York and write.  We follow Darcy as she struggles with becoming an adult and working on her writing career.  We watch her try and balance her writers integrity with the need to please her editors, deal with a brand new relationship with fellow new writer Imogene White, balance her budget, and just survive.
Ok...so that was probably a super simplistic summation of the book, but that is essentially what it was.  The question is, did this make for a good read?  I think it did for several reasons...want to hear them?  Good.  The book as a whole seemed to be a big commentary of the world of YA writing, which is not really surprising as I feel most of Mr. Westerfeld's books are a commentary of some sort.  What works so well in this book is that he also tells a great story and creates his signature worlds.  The story side of the book was a very typical (if original) YA paranormal romance, it has all the elements of the genre and checks all the boxes.  I have read a few reviews where people were complaining that the story was a very typical YA paranormal romance and that they expected more, but I think that was kind of the point of the story.  The story side was supposed to be written by a 17 year old girl writing her first novel that was to be published by a company looking for its next big money maker, not an established adult male author who is known for writing original stories.  All that being said, I still thought the story idea was pretty original.  On Darcy's side, I thought it was kind of fun to watch her make decisions about her book and then read the changes in the next chapter.  I like watching her try and juggle her new life, her new relationship and her new career all at the same time.  This allowed the author to bring up several different topics and discuss them in different ways.  The topics of cultural appropriation, writer's integrity, money, sellability, customer expectations, deadlines, stealing ideas, sharing idea's, other authors, and other writery things.  There is a bit of a"wow this girl is super lucky" feel to Darcy's journey, but even this is addressed in the book.  It was fun learning a bit about the process of writing and publishing, while reading the "book" that was being written and published.  Overall I give this book 7 out of 10 ramen noodle bowls and would recommend it to any Westerfeld fans, people who are interested in writing or like a typical paranormal romance.
What do you think of the duel story format?  Do you like knowing how the sausage is made?  What kind of book should I write?

No comments:

Post a Comment