Book Review | Afterworlds

18367581Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings.
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most. (via Goodreads)

Source: Christmas gift! 😀

There are some things you should know about me before reading this review: (1) Although my pen name doesn’t suggest it, I’m an Indian who was born and raised in America, like Darcy. (2) Like Lizzie, my parents are divorced. (3) I obviously love to write, too. (Also, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld will be italicized and Afterworlds by Darcy Patel will be underlined.)

I don’t mean any offense, but Scott Westerfeld didn’t really do any research on Indians… at least the people who live in America.

Almost all of the stuff you read in this book about Darcy’s Indian family and so on are stereotypes, which makes me sad. Westerfeld uses the classic “ALL Indians are vegetarian,” which isn’t true. I was born and raised in a meat-eating household. My mother, who grew up in India, was also born and raised in a meat-eating household. My mother’s mother, a devout Hindu who grew up and lived her entire life in India, was also born and raised in a meat-eating household. I rest my case. It is also mentioned in the book that Hindu Indians don’t celebrate Christmas, and instead celebrate something long and complicated involving Ganapati. I’m not very in touch with my roots, and while I don’t doubt the existence of this festival, it’s actually not really that widely celebrated among American kids of Indian descent. I haven’t actually heard of it in my life, and all my American-friends-of-Indian-descent celebrate Christmas, as do I.

That being said, I liked Darcy’s chapters more than Lizzie’s.

I have a lot in common with Darcy. I don’t think my race defines me, but it was really nice reading a book by a mainstream author about an Indian girl growing up in America… that’s not completely about her coming to terms with her race and culture. Yay for diversity!

Also, DARCY LIKES TO WRITE(!!!!!), and in fact sold her book Afterworlds, for a ton of money. I liked how her parents and sister and family as a whole were a good part of her life, even if she was hundreds of miles from home. It was a *bit* questionable that she managed to sell Afterworlds straight off the griddle just after a 30-day 2k-a-day jaunt that sounds a whole lot like NaNoWriMo. From my experience, NaNo novels aren’t that nice, like, ever. Though I liked how she tells her mom, “I wrote a draft in a month, not a book.”

And then there were also awesome things that I couldn’t relate to. Like the publishing aspect! I’m not a published author, so I couldn’t find anything wrong with the whole publishing world, but Darcy probably reacted EXACTLY. THE SAME WAY. I WOULD, except with a lot less hyperventilating.  (Oh, and also: it was nice to have someone LGBTQ+, though I think it sort of ended up feeling like the author was trying to create this super-awesome-diverse character, so I think it would have been better to have Lizzie be LGBTQ+ instead.)

Lizzie’s Story?

Lizzie’s story wasn’t mind-boggling. I didn’t understand why Darcy was given such a big advance for Afterworlds and her next book, Untitled Patel, as an unpublished teen author who’s literally just reached adulthood. Anyhow, we get to see the finished copy of Afterworlds in conjunction with Darcy’s story of editing it, which I thought was really cool. And I kind of liked the idea of being able to see ghosts, too. I found it a bit anticlimactic, though. I kept waiting for the plot to start, and then realized: Oh. Wait. This IS the plot. And, okay, there was insta-love, but I didn’t think it was as bad as a lot of reviews made it out to be. A lot of the story wasn’t focused on the romance aspect, but rather on the ghost of Lizzie’s mom’s best friend, Mindy, who was killed when she was eleven by a creepy Bad Man. I do think, though, that he should have been referred to as something other than “the Bad Man,” though, because it didn’t really define him, and quite frankly lessened his evil-ness. “Bad” is one of those words like “fun” or “nice” that’s sort of lost its meaning because it’s been overused so much. The end of Afterworlds was nice, but after Lizzie finishes up with the Bad Man, the true “climax” of the book seems rather disjointed and not totally in sync with what the rest of the book led up to.

Overall, Afterworlds was a nice read, and definitely enjoyable. I liked both Lizzie’s and Darcy’s chapters, but I liked Darcy’s a bit more than Lizzie’s. I’m not sure if Afterworlds would be a good read for someone who’s NOT an aspiring author, because a lot of Darcy’s chapters focus on the publishing industry, but I do think Afterworlds by itself might have a larger mass appeal if it were made into its own book and sold separately.

3.5/5 Wagging Tails

Wagging TailsWagging TailsWagging TailsHalf a Tail-1 (dragged)

4 responses to “Book Review | Afterworlds

  1. I’ve heard some mixed reviews about this one, but I love Scott Westerfeld’s writing so I’m eager to see what I think of it myself. I hate when authors don’t do proper research- in terms of someone’s culture and using stereotypes instead, that’s just downright disappointing!
    Great review! 🙂

    • Yeah, I really liked the idea of following a teen writer publishing her own novel, and I think the novel really delivered in that aspect! 😀 Most lower reviews had problems with (1) the publishing world being boring, (2) the insta-love, which, okay, I admit there was a bit of, and (3) the fact that everyone praised Darcy’s Afterworlds (which was technically necessary since if it wasn’t a good novel worthy of praise, it never would have been accepted for publication!). I haven’t read Westerfeld’s Uglies series yet, but I need to… After I finish everything else on my TBR. Yeah, I can tell Westerfeld really can be a great author! The stereotypes really bugged me, though, because I eat all meat, even *gasp* beef, and celebrate Christmas. Thanks! 😀

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday // Because Diversity Is Awesome | Books and Bark·

  3. I love this review, thanks for writing it. I enjoyed Afterworlds for all the reasons you mentioned, but it is flawed. I’m interested in seeing what else you’ve reviewed

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