Monday, September 15, 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Summary (from Goodreads):
Darcy 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.
I think this book is genius. Pure genius. I don’t think it’s for everyone. It is certainly for YA bloggers and those really familiar with the YA world. It’s not something I could easily recommend to a teen. It’s more for the teen or adult who is obsessed with YA, and already has a tight relationship with the YA universe on Twitter and Goodreads.
It did take me a week to read (which is a very long time for me). And it took me a little while to fully understand all that Westerfeld was doing with this. He wrote a book about a teen main character writing a YA novel. It was super cool being able to read so much of the YA novel the character was writing –the chapters alternated between the contemporary YA writer and the paranormal romance the YA writer was writing. At first I liked the book within the book better than the contemporary parts. And then I liked the contemporary parts better, and even went as far as to question why Westerfeld’s book within the book was so lame… But then it all finally clicked.
This book does all you would expect it do (well), but then it also does so much more. This entire book was one, giant take on the YA world. And I feel like its just layered in satire, sarcasm, and wit. The somewhat boring paranormal romance book (within the book) wasn’t boring because it was bad. It was boring as a comment to the formula of all YA paranormal romance books. What Westerfeld has written in regards to opening chapters, plot devices, romance, etc in this book is his commentary on YA books in general. A lot of his commentary is harsh, and a lot of it is amazing.
Top that off with publishing parties, actual scenes at BEA(!), YA drinks nights, book tours, and ARCs, and readers are welcomed to look into this crazy, growing industry window that Westerfeld has created. I loved how realistic it all was. I loved seeing how agents, publishers, and other book business people looked from the inside. I liked that Westerfeld didn’t dumb anything down or explain what things like NaNo WriMo or BEA were; he just assumes you know.
I loved all the scenes when the YA writers helped each other with their writing. I loved the LGBT elements. I loved the Manhattan, coming of age setting. I loved Darcy’s little sister, and I loved all the elements of Darcy that highlighted how young she was. I loved that no one cared that Darcy drank at all the parties. And I found all the scenes on the book tour to be so beyond entertaining. (Did anyone else think there was a character who’s supposed to be John Green?) There were moments when I seriously questioned how Westerfeld was allowed to publish this –all of the moments were Wow ones where I was impressed. His take on the publishing world was fresh, honest, and fascinating.
I feel like this book is to book fans what Behind the Music is for music fans. We get all the behind-the-scenes moments of YA book writing. We also get satire and jokes. And they are only jokes YA people would get. Also, layered throughout it all are amazing writing tips. There are so many do’s and don’ts of book writing in here (in a very sly, non-obvious way). Compile all these great things together, and it’s hard to read this book and not want to just dive into writing something of your own.
I know there have been differing reviews for this book, and I know this makes me sound kind of cocky; but, I kind of believe that the people who really didn’t like this probably didn’t get it. And this book is not for everyone. I’m having a little trouble adequately describing all that this book accomplishes. Just know it accomplishes so many things.
Afterworlds is one of my favorite books of the year. YA bloggers, don’t be turned away by mixed reviews. Read it. Then talk to me about it? I’m dying to discuss it with people. Really, I was blown away. This is so a 10/10.

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