Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

This novel wasn't bad, but it could have been much better. I think there was definite potential and the concept was crazy original. It just didn't really do it for me. I even tried to set it aside for a few days thinking that maybe by the time I picked it back up I'd be able to be more interested in it.


I went into this knowing that this book tells two stories and alternates between Darcy's life and the novel that she wrote. I thought going into this that she was writing the novel as the story was being told. Which I think would have been better, I thought we'd be able to see how the world around her influences the story as she tells it. Instead, the novel is already written and has been purchased by a publisher. But Darcy does do rewrites during the course of the novel, and so you do get to see how her life has an impact on those, as well as why she changes certain things and what the publisher would like to be changed. But the version of Darcy's novel that the story alternates with is the final, to be published version of the novel. So you don't really get to see any of the changes that get made, or any of the missteps that Darcy made during the initial writing of the novel.


This leads me to my main issue with this story: believability. Darcy's novel, Afterworlds, is about a girl who has a near death experience and ends up being able to interact with the afterlife and can see ghosts and in theory will end up at some point serving as a sort of grim reaper. She also falls in love with another psychopomp, who died about 3,000 years ago. And still, Lizzie's story is more credible than Darcy's.


Here is Darcy's story: When the novel starts she is 18 years old and moving to NYC on her own to be a real writer. She had written this entire novel during a one month period (this month HAPPENS to have been November and yet NO reference is made to NaNoWriMo which seems bizarre to me) while she was a 17-year-old senior in high school and sent it off to publishers. This book was then purchased as a prospective trilogy and she was paid $300,000 for the first two books in this series. She then moves to NYC and almost immediately finds this amazing apartment that just inspires her to write her little heart out. She also almost immediately finds herself in her first ever serious relationship with a girlfriend. She is keeping secrets from her family, but they all come out and everybody is happy. She stresses about her deadlines for rewrites and submission of her second book, but meets all of these with time to spare. Her only issues with her girlfriend are petty nonsensical things that get resolved. Her life has NO conflict. There is NO struggle. She doesn't have to overcome ANY obstacles to accomplish anything and everything is just handed to her. Not to mention, I don't know a whole lot about the publishing world, but I am 100% sure that a publisher will not pay you a ridiculous sum of money for a trilogy or series of books without you having AT LEAST outlined the overall arc of the series, and I think they require at least general outline/concept ideas for each book that will be in said series. At the beginning of this book, Darcy has NO IDEA what book two in her series will be about. This seems crazy unrealistic for me, a publisher is not going to buy a book from you that doesn't even have an outline, I'm sorry.


Afterworlds, the novel within this novel, is not without its issues. It just seems like there is a lot going on and all of it doesn't necessarily connect. There were multiple plot threads that could have been developed and just weren't. Lizzie is not a very well developed character, but none of the characters in the story are.


I think that both of these stories could have used some work. I haven't read any other novels by this author and I hate when I don't like the first novel I read by an author because it makes me not want to read any of the others.