I often run through several books at once: a bad habit that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. I am usually balancing three categories: fiction/fantasy, non-fiction (I am a history nerd) and a young adult novel. I teach high school and genuinely find young adult to be an exciting genre; in fact my school librarian often hands me a new release to check out and review. This is how I have stumbled on some great treasures, like The Hunger Games before the bandwagon begins.
Afterworlds is an ambitious novel. Westerfield combines two different stories, and this is always a big gamble. You run the risk of one story being more interesting than the other, and I personally got way more invested in one of the storylines. Unfortunately, I got excited because I thought this would be a scenario where one person was accidentally interacting with the narrative a la The Neverending Story. Nope.
One thread centers on Darcy who has written a young adult novel, and it follows her journey to independence, navigating the publishing world, discovering she likes girls, and dealing with rewriting. From a writer’s perspective, it was cool to get a glimspe on the inner workings of the writing business, but as an adult I was rather bored with the coming of age plot. There were some memorable lines, but I took it as a bad sign that I found Darcy’s younger sister (a minor character) more interesting than the protagonist.
The other narrative focuses upon the story that Darcy was writing – Afterworlds. This plot was unique and compelling. The opening scene focuses on a young girl, Lizzie, who survives a terrorist attack in an airport – it was well written. As a result, she is able to walk amongst the dead and of course, acquires a supernatural boyfriend. While the plot was engaging, there were issues that made little sense – Westerfield addresses these in a rather meta way when writing from the Darcy perspective, but leaves them unanswered. grrrrr.
While I enjoyed Lizzie’s story, ultimately I wouldn’t recommend this book, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone either. Therefore, my review is meh.