afterworldsYA Master Scott Westerfeld is back  this Fall with Afterworlds, a novel-within-a-novel, tightly intertwining a fully developed realistic YA romance with am equally robust spooky paranormal horror story, exploring the many ways in which our stories and our secrets define every aspect of our lives.

18 year old Darcy Patel’s composed-in-one-month paranormal horror story, Afterworlds, has been picked up by a major publishing house, netting her a $200,000 advance and the chance to put college on hold and move to New York City to be a “real writer”.  Naive, star-struck, and plagued with self-doubt, Darcy is not going to miss the chance at the life she’s always envisioned for herself, and she soon luckily finds herself  taken under-wing by a myriad of other published YA authors.   Darcy’s year of revisions and sequel-writing seems to be an uphill battle, as she faces critiques, writer’s block, and the dreaded suggestion from her publisher to change her ending.  But Darcy also finds herself caught up in her first, all-consuming love, taken on a whirlwind book tour with one of the biggest names in the YA world, and surprisingly, rekindling her love for storytelling.

Darcy’s struggles and new experiences find their way into the revisions and rewrites of Afterworlds, unfolding in alternating chapters throughout the novel.  As Darcy’s life catapolts up and down, inside and out, the ripples of her emotions and experiences become waves in the life of her creation, Lizzie.  It’s curious, as well, that as Lizzie descends deeper into the world of the dead, exploring her own darkness and new-found “calling”, there is something of a reverse ripple effect that informs the corresponding chapters of Darcy’s life in the “real world.”

As one would expect, Westerfeld has created two distinct, yet believable and symbiotically linked, voices in Darcy and Lizzie.  In many ways, they are different parts of the same person; one having life-altering, perspective shifting experiences in the “real world”; the other, “internal self” experiencing equally powerful changes on the “secret” side.  I particularly loved the insider references to the YA publishing and literature scene, as well as the straightforward reveal of the highs, lows, and work-a-day slog of being a writer.  Darcy believes at first in “YA Heaven”, imagining a life of glamour, easy money, and ever-flowing stories, but has to learn the reality of the work, luck, and discipline that are required to make her dream into a real, if sometimes complicated, life.

  • Posted by Cori


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