Cover of AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld

These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org


Publishers Weekly

PW Reviews 2014 June #5

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.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal

SLJ Reviews 2014 July

Gr 8 Up—Darcy Patel, just graduating from high school and accepted to the college of her choice, has a written a book that has been picked up by a major publisher. She decides that instead of going directly to college, she will move to New York City, live on her advance, and edit Afterworlds and write the sequel. She heads to the city with no friends, no place to live, and a sense of adventure and excitement. Lizzie, traveling home from a visit with her father, changes planes at the Dallas airport where terrorists attack and she is almost killed. During those moments when she hovers between life and death and plays dead so that she will not be shot, she travels to the afterworld where she meets Yamaraj, who guides her back to life. As a result of this near-death experience, she can now see ghosts and travel back and forth between the real world and the afterworld; she has become a “pschopomp.” And yes, Lizzie and her story are actually Darcy’s book. Westerfeld has once again written a story with characters so compelling and a plot so intriguing that despite the book’s length, readers still want more. With the interweaving of Darcy’s rewrite of Lizzie’s story, the background of Hindu legend and death gods, and the allusions to the YA literary world, including mentions of the Printz award and BookExpo America, this is a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The blend of realism and supernatural is especially strong. Recommend this book as a “what to read next” for teens who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners (Little, Brown, 2012), Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star (Putnam, 2011) and Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead (Little, Brown, 2010). A riveting and unique read.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas

[Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Reviews 2014 July #1

*Starred Review* Eighteen-year-old Darcy drops her college plans and moves to New York to revise her soon-to-be-published 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 religions—this novel 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. Order 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.

Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

The Horn Book

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Spring

The first chapter introduces eighteen-year-old YA author Darcy Patel. Chapter two takes place at an airport–where a startlingly violent terrorist attack unfolds before the eyes of narrator Lizzie. Readers will soon realize that Lizzie is the protagonist of Darcy’s novel, but Westerfeld has done the trick of putting us disconcertingly off balance. The six-hundred-page novel moves at a brisk pace.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #6

This book is actually two stories for the price of one. The first chapter introduces eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel. She’s just written her first YA novel, signed a huge advance, and moved to New York City, forgoing college. Chapter two takes place at an airport — where a startlingly violent terrorist attack unfolds before the eyes of narrator Lizzie. That chapter ends with Lizzie passing out after a head injury; then we’re back to Darcy’s story in New York; then back to Lizzie (guided back from the afterworld by the hunky Yamaraj, she finds that she is now a psychopomp, with the ability to ferry souls between the lands of the living and the dead); then Darcy. Readers will soon realize that Lizzie is the protagonist of Darcy’s novel, but Westerfeld has done the trick of putting us disconcertingly off balance — even more so since Lizzie’s story is in first person while Darcy’s is in third person. At six hundred pages, this overstuffed novel has everything in it but the kitchen sink — probably much to the delight of its intended audience — but it moves at a brisk pace because of the short chapters and paragraphs, and because the action is conveyed through dialogue rather than description. Readers will also enjoy spotting the parallels between Darcy’s life and her protagonist’s — just as Lizzie and Yamaraj’s feelings for each other grow, Darcy is falling in love with a girl named Imogen. Westerfeld has written a biting send-up of YA publishing and a convincing double love story. jonathan hun

Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

VOYA Reviews 2014 October

Afterworlds is a young adult tour de force, a ghost story par excellence, as well as a compulsively readable treatment of the writing and publishing experience, seen through the eyes of a teenage author whose first book, Afterworlds, is such a dynamo that she is given a $300,000 advance and turned loose in New York City to work on it and a sequel. In alternating chapters, readers hear the stories of Darcy, the struggling young author, and Lizzie, the almost-victim of a terrorist attack at the Dallas airport that leads to her relationship with Rama, the god of death, and her own calling as a shine, who sees ghosts and guides souls to the afterlife. The book goes full circle, with Darcy entering the publishing world in the first chapter and gradually finding her way at the end, still months before the actual publication of her first book, and Lizzie returning to the Dallas airport to help the ghost of the only passenger who fought back finally move on into the underworld. Intriguingly enough, Darcy’s struggles in the land of publishing and her first love affair with a colleague, a female young adult author, is just as compelling as Lizzie’s struggle to survive in the wake of the attack and in her new role as an immortal who can travel back and forth between the land of the living and the dead. This unique novel is a thick book that reads like a thin book because of how fast readers will turn the pages to find out what happens next.—Bonnie Kunzel. 5Q 5P S

Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews 2014 July #1

Westerfeld offers two novels in one: the story of Lizzie Scofield, a teenager who escapes a terrorist attack by somehow crossing into the afterlife and develops a relationship with a “smoldering Vedic psychopomp,” and the story of 18-year-old Darcy Patel, who has just signed a contract to publish the novel Lizzie anchors.In alternating chapters, the two books unfold. The still-living Lizzie pursues a relationship with Yamaraj, who protects newly crossed spirits from otherworldly predators, even as she negotiates her new powers to cross over and interact with ghosts, especially the little lost soul who haunts her closet. Meanwhile, Darcy decides to forgo college for the glamor of a writer’s life in New York City, struggling to revise Afterworlds and draft Untitled Patel as she watches her $300,000 advance vanish into agent commissions, rent, and fancy, foodie ramen. She also enters the tightknit, often bitchy world of YA writers, where she meets and falls for Imogen. Westerfeld clearly has a good time here, but he resists broad satire, focusing on Darcy’s coming-of-age as a writer who’s got the “juice.” Likewise, Darcy’s novel isn’t half bad, displaying a control that’s missing from far too many paranormal debuts. Readers who pay attention will see how Darcy’s learning curve plays out and how she incorporates and transmutes her real-world experiences into her novel.Watching Darcy’s story play off Darcy’s novel will fascinate readers as well as writers. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Linworth Publishing Company Reviews

Library Media Connection Reviews 2015 March/April

Westerfeld’s storytelling pulls readers in, making them think, and demands they really pay attention to two worlds far apart on the spectrum. Darcy’s story shows the publishing world and her growing involvement with another young adult author. Lizzie is the character in Darcy’s novel; dealing with the trials and tribulations of her life. The book moves between Darcy’s life and Lizzie’s in the novel Darcy is writing, with alternating chapters. Both main characters’ stories begin to mesh and their lives intertwine. My book club students have chosen this for their read. This is a different story from Westerfeld’s previous work, but very compelling. Deb Grove, School Librarian, Papillion-LaVista High School, Papillion, Nebraska [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED

Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

One thought on “Afterworlds

  1. Pingback: Afterworlds | Queer Young Adult Literature

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