Darcy Patel is forgoing college to head to New York and live her life as a YA writer. Young and naïve, she has to navigate life and love in New York while she works on her soon to be published novel, Afterworlds. In Darcys novel, Lizzie becomes a psychcopomp after a brush with death and now she must deal with ghosts and Yamaraj, a hot psychopomp prince. The two stories reflect each other to became a narrative on novels, authors and the YA world.
This book is split into two parts: all of the odd (1,3,5 etc.) chapters are from Darcy's point of view and the even (2,4,6 etc.) chapters are from Lizzie's. While I was reading it I almost believed that Darcy's parts were "real", but the illusion faded as soon as I stopped reading.
One of the strengths of this book is its reflection and how self-aware it is. Darcy discusses the problems of her novel and we see the "fixed" version in the odd numbered chapters. If you read closely enough you can almost see Darcy, bent over her desk as she stresses over certain scenes in the novel to get them just right.
I think what I love most about this book was how in showed Darcy as a writer of YA fiction. The way Darcy discussed and thought about writing and the YA world connected with me on a deep level as I fellow YA writer. I also found out things about the publishing process which sound both exciting and terrifying.
Afterworlds is full of diversity. I think it was a bold move to make Darcy both Indian (correct me if that's wrong) and queer. I say queer because Darcy is never sure of her sexuality. Is she a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual? At first I was a little annoyed that she wasn't immediately sure of herself, but then I realised that she was still exploring who she is and growing into herself. When or if she labels herself is her own choice.
Overall, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld is a thrilling read. What makes it stand out for me is the introspection on the writing life and the self-awareness of the novel.
"Darcy, on the other hand, preferred to gaze at her screen rather than fill it. She thought her sentences first, then murmured and mimed them before committing herself to keystrokes. Her hands acted out the gestures of conversation, her expressions mirroring her characters' emotions. She closed her eyes when the theatre in her mind was populated by setting and characters, or when she was merely listening for a missing word."
Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org