Thursday, December 11, 2014

Afterworlds - YA Bingo

Completed on: December 11th
# of Pages: 599
Bingo Category: FREE SQUARE!
Oh Afterworlds . . . all of the lovely, wonderful things I could say about this massive, ingenious book. If you haven't already seen a copy of this book at your local book store (near the end of the YA section in typical alphabetical fashion), I suggest you head over there immediately to double check, and once you find this book (it's pretty massive, so it's hard to miss), I suggest you pick it up and bring it over to the cash register, immediately if not sooner. Whether you're a guy or a girl, a YA enthusiast or a future writer, this book is incredibly entertaining and moving in many ways, and you should give it a read - as soon as you have enough time to devour an almost 600 page novel XD

I probably shouldn't complain about this book being massive, because it's not like it's the largest book I've ever read, it's just really big and heavy compared to the other 23 YA books I have read this year XD But I didn't include this book under the free square because I wanted to talk about its physical proportions; I would much rather talk about its internal proportions. See, Afterworlds is a book told from two perspectives: First is Darcy Patel, a young girl who has just graduated high school who wrote a book in the course of a single month (in November - that sounds oddly familiar . . . XD) and sent it off to a publisher, who ended up giving her a contract for her book, titled Afterworlds, as well as a sequel that is known throughout Darcy's story as Untitled Patel. The book follows Darcy's journey from her home town to the bustling metropolis of Manhattan where instead of attending college she dedicates her time and the budget drawn up by her younger sister to living as a writer where she can revise Afterworlds and also finish the sequel.

The second perspective is that of the main character in Darcy's novel (her completed novel, as the reader finds out, not the story line of her draft). Her protagonist's name is Lizzie (again, I'm seeing a pattern here XD) and after living through a near-death experience in the form of a terrorist attack in an airport in Dallas, she ends up crossing over into the Afterworld, a realm where the ghosts of the departed roam until entities such as the handsome Yamaraj, and eventually Lizzie, known as psychopomps help to keep the memory of the dead alive and also help lost spirits to cross over. It's a highly compelling story and the reader is able to see traces of Darcy's personality and her life experiences bleed into the words on the page that take us through Lizzie's very own journey.

I have to say, perhaps one of my favorite moments of this novel was when Darcy was walking back to her temporary living space with fellow deb writer Imogen Grey and as they're talking Darcy realizes the connection between her name and her main character's name. The fact that she didn't clue into the connection ("Jane Austen much?") had me roaring with laughter.

This isn't technically a spoiler, since it states on the book jacket that Darcy ends up falling for a fellow writer, but I honestly found myself surprised to find out that the love interest in this story would be Imogen. I'd like to attribute this to the fact that it's only been over the past 5+ years that same-sex relationships in YA fiction have become more and more commonplace and not because there's a small part of me that I didn't previously know about that somehow has ended up a homophobe XD Because I'm honestly not, I proudly support a person's right to love whomever they want. Another hypothesis I have is probably that the reader finds out about Darcy's feelings for Imogen, and girls, at about the exact same time that Darcy figures all of that out herself, and that was Westerfeld's intention all alone, not as a shock factor because it's not all that "shocking" but just to prevent Darcy's story from becoming too predictable. There is also a male character that works for Paradox publishing that gets introduced fairly early in Darcy's story that I was pretty sure would be the one that would continue to show up in Darcy's life though, although I don't believe he himself was a writer, so that could just be my own misguided guess.

Having a character with her own cast of characters in her head that make it into a story is something that I have been longing to see for a very long time, so the second perspective of this story where the reader is invited into the world of Darcy's novel is incredibly satisfying. This book could have easily just been about Darcy as a writer and the experiences that she goes through as a deb author, always leaving the reader to question just what this book that's been awarded by a massive advance from Paradox is really like, but the author is kind and rewards us with both perspectives in a single tome, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Seeing this as two separate books would've been maddening. That being said, I hope we get to read more about Darcy's story, along with getting an inside look at Untitled Patel - once it gets a title that is XD
2 More To Go!

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