I love it. I love it because I love YA (the books and the people, even when both categories border on the absurd) and I love the inside of a writer’s head (all the ego and creativity and power) and because Scott Westerfeld does, too. In Afterworlds, Scott has brilliantly woven together the life of a prodigious young talent, and the novel that has set her life in an all new direction. I’ve never read anything quite like it. It’s new and it’s novel… and isn’t that the whole point of a novel? For all of us who read Fangirl and wished there were actual Simon Snow books, here it is. Ages 12+
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.
— July 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.)
— Publishers Weekly, 6/30/14 *STARRED
“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.”
— Cory Doctorow