Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

RATING: ★★★☆☆


The book is two stories wrapped into one. The first is about Darcy, a 18-year-old who completed her first novel during NANOWRIMO and who is now moving to NYC to become "a real author". Her struggle is finding out exactly what "being a real author" means, while also living away from her traditional Indian family for the first time. 


The second one is about Lizzie and this is the story that Darcy wrote (and is working on) during the novel.  Lizzie almost dies during a terrorist attack and ends up being able to travel to the Afterworld and do some stuff there.


Did you notice how vague my "do some stuff there" was? That's because I couldn't make myself finish the Lizzie-story. There's something about ghosts, afterlife and similar things that seem so distant from my life that I just can't get into it. 

Lizzie herself was a decent character. She didn't really blow me away nor did she annoy me. She's there and tries to do the right things, but usually messes it up (at least for the part I read). However, what really annoyed me was the fact that she falls in love with some "God of death" who saved her during the terrorism attack / afterworld flip and guides her through her new life. Darcy discusses that this is cliché, but yet it is not changed. Come on, she falls in love with the first "different" guy she meets? Too Twilight for me.

It's all pretty cliché and predictable, but then again, it is supposed to be Darcy's story and Darcy isn't too wild herself.

New title : Darcy and her Doubts

Darcy was more relatable as a character, mostly due to the fact that she doesn't travel down to the afterworld, but she was too different from me to really like her. She's a new writer and logically she is filled with doubts about her career and her future. Writing is an unstable path (trust me, I know) and there are no guarantees about success, money or happiness.

But Darcy gets her first story sold quickly and everyone is obsessed with it. You would think that would make her more confident, but alas, she only doubts everything and everyone in this book. Don't believe me? Here's a list (which is not complete):

1. She wonders whether or not she's a good writer or even a writer at all.

2. She doubts whether people actually really liked her book or are just lying.

3. Darcy is insecure about being able to write a second book.

4. She thinks her girlfriend finds Darcy a. immature b. a bad writer c. a bad kisser d. naive e. too sheltered,....

5. Darcy is afraid that her family will think she is a failure.

6. She is also scared of how they will react to her having a girlfriend.

7. She worries about money, all the time, yet makes the most financial immature decisions...


As you might be able to tell, I'm not Darcy's greatest fan. I get the worrying about things, but there was just too much worrying in one story for me.

Thank God for Scott Westerfeld

I'm not completely sure I needed this story in my life, but I am so glad that the person who decided to write this down was Scott Westerfeld. He is an amazingly talented writer and the book reads away like a dream. Even though I was annoyed by both Lizzie and Darcy at several points in the book, I just couldn't put the Darcy story down. (I'll contribute the fact that the Lizzie story is significantly less well written to the fact that it's Darcy's story and not Scott's.) 

Like most amazing YA authors, it's not like he uses very flourishing language or even metaphors. What he is able to do is describe a situation with just enough detail to suck you in while leaving enough room to let your imagination run free.

What I also have to praise him for is for choosing an Indian, lesbian narrator and for talking about the issues of cultural appropriation in novels. This is something that is often discussed on the book blogs, but almost never brought up in books. 

It's so important that there's more variation of narrators in YA books (not just straight white California females) and it's great that young girls will get other role models in their lives now.


Considering that, I'll give the book a 3 out of 5 stars. It really just wasn't my kind of story and I wish Scott used his talent, and guts, to tell another tale (and just leave the Lizzie story out of it). But he still shines through and it makes it a pretty compelling read for any writer - just take a notebook, make notes along the way, improve yourself and motivate yourself to take risks as a writer. Though they might not always pay off.