Afterworlds

Afterworlds

4.0 23
by Scott Westerfeld
     
 

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a smart, thought-provoking novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down.

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes.See more details below

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Overview

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a smart, thought-provoking novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down.

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

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Editorial Reviews

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
★ 07/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Darcy Patel, just graduating from high school and accepted to the college of her choice, has a written a book that has been picked up by a major publisher. She decides that instead of going directly to college, she will move to New York City, live on her advance, and edit Afterworlds and write the sequel. She heads to the city with no friends, no place to live, and a sense of adventure and excitement. Lizzie, traveling home from a visit with her father, changes planes at the Dallas airport where terrorists attack and she is almost killed. During those moments when she hovers between life and death and plays dead so that she will not be shot, she travels to the afterworld where she meets Yamaraj, who guides her back to life. As a result of this near-death experience, she can now see ghosts and travel back and forth between the real world and the afterworld; she has become a "pschopomp." And yes, Lizzie and her story are actually Darcy's book. Westerfeld has once again written a story with characters so compelling and a plot so intriguing that despite the book's length, readers still want more. With the interweaving of Darcy's rewrite of Lizzie's story, the background of Hindu legend and death gods, and the allusions to the YA literary world, including mentions of the Printz award and BookExpo America, this is a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The blend of realism and supernatural is especially strong. Recommend this book as a "what to read next" for teens who enjoyed Libba Bray's The Diviners (Little, Brown, 2012), Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star (Putnam, 2011) and Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead (Little, Brown, 2010). A riveting and unique read.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/30/2014
During National Novel Writing Month, Darcy Patel, 18, pounds out a “Hindu paranormal romance” that earns her an advance hefty enough to fund a college education. Alas, Darcy has other ideas, moving to Manhattan to do rewrites and deferring admission to Oberlin. What follows are two stories, told in alternating chapters: Darcy’s path to publication, and the final draft of the book she wrote, also titled Afterworlds. Darcy’s new experiences inform her revision: falling in love for the first time makes her rethink the romance in her book. Her protagonist Lizzie’s story is more explosive, beginning with a terrorist attack that she survives by so thoroughly pretending to be dead that she slips into a ghost world, where she meets Yamaraj, a hunky “soul guide.” The back-and-forth between Darcy’s story and her thriller is dizzying, but “Reading Zealots” like the kids Darcy hung with in high school will love the insider details about the YA writer’s life—the intimidating editorial letter, attending BEA (Darcy naively brings her own canvas tote). An ambitious concept, well executed. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Sept.)
Booklist - July 2014
*STARRED REVIEW* Eighteen-year-old Darcy drops her college plans and moves to New York to revise her soon-to-bepublished novel and start the second one. Meanwhile, in chapters that alternate with Darcy’s NYC adventures, her fictional protagonist, Lizzie, survives a near-death experience to find she has become a psychopomp, responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife. Westerfeld masterfully creates two divergent reading experiences (YA romance and fantasy horror) with two distinct yet believable voices in Darcy and Lizzie—and, somehow, makes them mesh into one cohesive novel. In addition to the details of the fully realized story worlds—and that's worlds plural, as this is a busy book, with content drawn from Gujarati culture and Indian religion—this book includes romantic entanglements, a charming lesbian love story, terrorism and justice, and insider references to the YA publishing and literature scene (including several references to the Michael L. Printz Award) that will have librarians grinning in delight. Westerfeld deftly and subtly captures Darcy’s immature authorial voice, even including a few underdeveloped plot points that differentiate it from his own polished prose. There are no notes about cultural sources, but an extended conversation between (fictional) YA authors explores these issues, offering a few perspectives on respect and appropriateness. Get plenty; this one won’t stay on the shelves. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Westerfeld, author of the hugely popular Uglies and Leviathan series, goes meta in a big way (this thing is the size of an anvil). Expect tons of YA-world gabbing and gushing.
boingboing.net - Cory Doctorow
“A masterful accomplishment . . . unmistakably Westerfeld, in full command of a
prodigious talent, doing something complicated and difficult and
making it look easy, even as it grabs you and drags you through its
dark streets, laughing and crying along with both Darcy and Lizzie.”
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Bonnie Kunzel
Afterworlds is a young adult tour de force, a ghost story par excellence, as well as a compulsively readable treatment of the writing and publishing experience, seen through the eyes of a teenage author whose first book, Afterworlds, is such a dynamo that she is given a $300,000 advance and turned loose in New York City to work on it and a sequel. In alternating chapters, readers hear the stories of Darcy, the struggling young author, and Lizzie, the almost-victim of a terrorist attack at the Dallas airport that leads to her relationship with Rama, the god of death, and her own calling as a shine, who sees ghosts and guides souls to the afterlife. The book goes full circle, with Darcy entering the publishing world in the first chapter and gradually finding her way at the end, still months before the actual publication of her first book, and Lizzie returning to the Dallas airport to help the ghost of the only passenger who fought back finally move on into the underworld. Intriguingly enough, Darcy’s struggles in the land of publishing and her first love affair with a colleague, a female young adult author, is just as compelling as Lizzie’s struggle to survive in the wake of the attack and in her new role as an immortal who can travel back and forth between the land of the living and the dead. This unique novel is a thick book that reads like a thin book because of how fast readers will turn the pages to find out what happens next. Reviewer: Bonnie Kunzel; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-10
Westerfeld offers two novels in one: the story of Lizzie Scofield, a teenager who escapes a terrorist attack by somehow crossing into the afterlife and develops a relationship with a “smoldering Vedic psychopomp,” and the story of 18-year-old Darcy Patel, who has just signed a contract to publish the novel Lizzie anchors.In alternating chapters, the two books unfold. The still-living Lizzie pursues a relationship with Yamaraj, who protects newly crossed spirits from otherworldly predators, even as she negotiates her new powers to cross over and interact with ghosts, especially the little lost soul who haunts her closet. Meanwhile, Darcy decides to forgo college for the glamor of a writer’s life in New York City, struggling to revise Afterworlds and draft Untitled Patel as she watches her $300,000 advance vanish into agent commissions, rent, and fancy, foodie ramen. She also enters the tightknit, often bitchy world of YA writers, where she meets and falls for Imogen. Westerfeld clearly has a good time here, but he resists broad satire, focusing on Darcy’s coming-of-age as a writer who’s got the “juice.” Likewise, Darcy’s novel isn’t half bad, displaying a control that’s missing from far too many paranormal debuts. Readers who pay attention will see how Darcy’s learning curve plays out and how she incorporates and transmutes her real-world experiences into her novel.Watching Darcy’s story play off Darcy’s novel will fascinate readers as well as writers. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481422369
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Publication date:
09/23/2014
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
608
Sales rank:
12,122
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Afterworlds

CHAPTER 1


THE MOST IMPORTANT EMAIL THAT Darcy Patel ever wrote was three paragraphs long.

The first was about Darcy herself. It skipped the trifling details, her dyed blue-black hair and the slim gold ring in her left nostril, and began instead with a grim secret that her parents had never told her. When Darcy’s mother was eleven years old, her best friend was murdered by a stranger. This discovery, chanced upon during an idle web search, both shocked Darcy and made certain things about her mother clearer. It also inspired her to write.

The second paragraph of the email was about the novel Darcy had just finished. She didn’t mention, of course, that all sixty thousand words of Afterworlds had been written in thirty days. The Underbridge Literary Agency hardly needed to know that. Instead, this paragraph described a terrorist attack, a girl who wills herself to die, and the bewitching boy she meets in the afterworld. It promised skulking ghosts and the traumas that haunt families, and little sisters who are more clever than they appear. Using the present tense and short sentences, Darcy set the scene, thumbnailed the characters and their motivations, and teased the conclusion. This was the best of the three paragraphs, she was later told.

The third paragraph was pure flattery, because Darcy wanted very much for the Underbridge Literary Agency to say yes to her. She praised the breadth of their vision and paid tribute to their clients’ genius, even while daring to compare herself to those illustrious names. She explained how her novel was different from the other paranormals of the last few years (none of which had a smoldering Vedic psychopomp as its love interest).

This email was not a perfect query letter. But it did its job. Seventeen days after pressing Send, Darcy was signed to Underbridge, a flourishing and respected literary agency, and not long after that she had a two-book deal for an astonishing amount of money.

Only a handful of challenges remained—high school graduation, a perilous decision, and parental approval—before Darcy Patel would be packing her bags for New York City.

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