Book Review: Afterworlds

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

The year is almost over, and my reading challenge is finally completed! I set out to read 20 books in 2014, and the last on my list is Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. I got my copy at a book signing in October, and after meeting the author, I was more excited than ever to read this story.

I have to say that this is the most meta tale I’ve experienced. Afterworlds is a book within a book, and is named after a novel that recent high school grad Darcy Patel wrote during NaNoWriMo.

Darcy hits the jackpot by landing a publisher and a six-figure advance for a sequel. She defers college to move to New York City, too swept up by fellow YA debutantes and drink nights to stick to a budget.

While attending writer parties and rapidly draining her checking account, she falls in love with Imogen Gray, a pseudonymous author writing the sequel to her trilogy. I can’t stress enough how refreshing it is to have a famous YA author like Westerfeld write a protagonist of color in a same-sex relationship. How unfortunate that these characters aren’t more common in literature!

The chapters of this book alternate between Darcy’s world and the world which she created. Afterworlds is a novel about Lizzie, a high schooler who survives a terrorist attack at an airport by pretending to be dead–so well, in fact, that she wills herself into the afterworld.

There she meets Yamaraj, an attractive and mysterious spirit guide who teaches her how to hone her newfound powers of seeing ghosts and walking through walls. She also befriends Mindy, a friend of Lizzie’s mother who was tragically abused and murdered by a serial killer when she was 11 years old. Mindy’s ghost lives in Lizzie’s house, fearful that the ‘bad man’ will find and hurt her again.

Lizzie must oscillate between the worlds of the living and the dead, all while attempting to avenge Mindy’s death and further a relationship with Yamaraj. What’s intriguing is that this story changes as Darcy makes revisions to it, so it’s fun to read this work in progress.

What’s not so fun is that at 600 pages, Afterworlds tends to drag in places. Without one half, the other would suffer, but because of this symbiotic partnership, the whole novel gets a bit bloated.

I also found Darcy grating at times. It’s natural to be self-absorbed and clueless in your teenage years, but I kept wishing for Darcy to stop sweating the small stuff and focus on her writing. It’s pretty bad when her younger sister is the voice of reason.

And even though I felt that Westerfeld was sometimes trying too hard to keep up with the teenage slang (annoying meme is annoying!), overall I loved getting the inside scoop about professional writers, from dealing with editors and going on book tours, to conducting research and learning all the unspoken rules.

If you’re an aspiring author and love young-adult fiction, I recommend reading Afterworlds to immerse yourself within the writing process. And if you haven’t read Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy already, definitely do so because it’s excellent dystopian fiction.

I may be done reading this year, but I’m not done blogging! Come back to Book Club Babe on Tuesday where I’ll be revealing my top ten resolutions for 2015!

Quick December Check-In!

Especially after a very long weekend!

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to check-in and reassure you that I’m still here! It’s been a busy Thanksgiving break, but I’m looking forward to the dust settling and getting back into the swing of things! I’ve missed blogging!

Now that November is over, I can finally put NaNoWriMo behind me. My final word count barely topped 19,000 words, so it’s pretty obvious that 2014 just wasn’t my year. However, I learned a ton, and I still made progress on my novel! Hoping that I can gain some momentum, keeping the creative juices flowing this month and into the new year!

As for my book quota, I’ve been much more successful at reading than writing. I’ve completed the audiobook version of Yes Please by Amy Poehler and will post my review later this week. In the meantime, I’m working my way through my 20th book of 2014: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Looks like I’m ahead of the game of finishing my reading goal for this year!

I also watched “Mockingjay: Part 1″ and “Gone Girl” over the holiday, so be on the lookout for my movie reviews this month! This fall has been an excellent season for film adaptations of books, and 2014 will end with a bang with the final installment of “The Hobbit” trilogy! Can’t wait!

So while I try to find the time for all these blog posts, let me know how you’re doing! Read any good books or see any fun movies? And what are your plans for December? It’s been forever, so catch me up!

Book Signings in SF!

Hey everyone!

I just popped in to brag that I had an awesome time last night meeting the one and only Scott Westerfeld! The YA author of the Uglies trilogy visited Books Inc. in San Francisco to discuss his recently published novel Afterworlds and do a signing.

The coolest part about the event–besides seeing an admired author in the flesh–is that 15% of the book proceeds support NaNoWriMo! In fact, I only found out about this signing on Tuesday after logging into my NaNoWriMo account and reading a memo from one of my region’s Municipal Liaisons.

Why the fundraising? Well, it turns out that Afterworlds is about a teenage girl named Darcy who creates a novel during NaNoWriMo that later gets published, thereby inciting her writing career.

And the uniqueness about Afterworlds is that it swaps chapters between Darcy’s world and the world that she brings to life in her own novel. I love the idea of reading a book within a book, so I’m really looking forward to this one!

I would have recommended Scott Westerfeld before meeting him, but especially so afterward. He was such a down-to-earth guy with a great sense of humor. I appreciated his insights about the YA community and his writing advice regarding POV. Needless to say, I’m inspired to revive my own writing for NaNoWriMo!

Thanks for the autograph! 🙂

The good times continue to roll next week, since Books Inc. is hosting another signing for Azar Nafisi, best known for her novel Reading Lolita in Tehran. That book was an exquisite window into her experiences as an English Lit professor in post-revolutionary Iran, and her new novel The Republic of Imagination describes her path to American citizenship.

So big thanks to Books Inc. for coordinating these opportunities to learn from these wonderful writers. I’ll see you again next week!