Rated Reads

Afterworlds

by Scott Westerfeld

Rated: Moderate

I picked this up because it’s the New Scott Westerfeld. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but I have loved (more or less) everything I read by him. Even so, I didn’t know what to expect. And this was nothing like I’ve ever read before.

It’s really two books in one. Half of it is a ghost/terrorist/murder story. Lizzie, a high school senior, is traveling back to California after visiting her father, and some terrorists attack her airplane. She survives by playing dead and soon discovers that she can see ghosts. But it’s more than that: she is someone who helps the dead find peace in the afterworld. And she’s in love with the underworld’s lord, Yamaraj.

The other half of the story is about Darcy, who “wrote” the Lizzie half of the book during NANOWRIMO her senior year. It was soon snapped up by a major publisher for six figures. Suddenly, her life is turned upside down, and she decides that college is not an option. Instead, she moves to New York and is thrust head-first into the publishing world.

The stories hold up individually; Westerfeld is an excellent writer and knows how to keep a reader reading. Lizzie’s story is sufficiently chilling (being a ghost story and all) and has some intriguing mythology on life after death. Darcy’s story is equally well-done; Westerfeld captures the uncertainty of a first-time published author as well as the excitement and naivete of someone just out of high school facing the Big Wide World.

But what I enjoyed most, and what kept me turning pages, was the connection between the two parts. I loved seeing Darcy experience angst over her book and how different parts of her life fit into the book. I loved reading about how parts of the story were changed and adapted. And I loved all the different teasers about the end, and how it could have been different. I’m not a writer but I loved seeing how the author and the story are tied up together and the effort it takes to write a story.

I don’t know how well this is going to be received by non-Westerfeld fans; I do hope it goes over well. There are a couple of good stories here. And I’d be more than happy to read more of Darcy and Lizzie’s story.

Rated: Moderate because of some grisly murders, terrorists, and a lot of swearing, including a few f-bombs.

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Afterworlds
  • by Scott Westerfeld
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: