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Afterworlds | Scott Westerfeld | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, images via Goodreads

afterworldsafterworlds scott westerfeld

In Afterworlds we are introduced to Darcy Patel an 18 year old with dreams of being an author. After writing her first novel in just one month Darcy is moving to New York to pursue her dream, much to the disappointment of her parents who want her to go to college. This is no ordinary book, but rather a novel within a novel as in between chapters following Darcy’s journey we are presented with chapters from her debut novel, also titled Afterworlds.

Throughout the book Darcy struggles with various issues from how her debut will be received and how to write a worthy sequel. Not only is she having trouble with her career but she is also struggling to see herself as an adult. Intertwined we have chapters of Darcy’s novel which gets off to a scary start as we are thrown into the centre of a terrorist attack alongside her protagonist Lizzie who turns out to be the only survivor. After this initial opening the novel quickly takes a paranormal turn.

I was keen to read Afterworlds based on it’s intriguing concept but honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it on the whole, making this a tricky review to write. I think perhaps my expectations were too high and breaking it down I feel there are a couple of main factors why it didn’t work for me. Looking at other reviews it seems that a lot of readers preferred one of the stories to the other but for me unfortunately neither stood out as a favourite. Initially I liked both stories and read with interest as we follow Darcy on her move to NY and the early part of her publishing journey. Likewise the opening chapter of her novel was captivating and intriguing however as I read on I didn't warm to the characters and started to lose interest in both.

To me Darcy’s novel felt slow-paced after the initial scene but the tone fitted in well with the fact that she was a teenage debut author. Throughout the book she worries about the fact that her debut was written in just one month and how the later chapters may not live up to the opening ones and this is reflected in the novel itself – it’s not meant to be perfect.

For me the most interesting thing about Afterworlds was the concept and writing process which I’d really love to know more about. The book left me wondering whether author Scott Westerfeld came up with the ‘book within a book’ concept and went from there or if he combined two book ideas into one to create something unique.

I’m unsure if there are any plans to release a sequel with the next chapter of Darcy’s life intertwined with those of her sequel referred to throughout Afterworlds as ‘Untitled Patel’. There’s definitely potential to do so but I feel like the book would work best as a standalone leaving the success or failure of Darcy’s debut a mystery.

Overall I enjoyed the ‘book within a book’ concept and there were parts I liked but unfortunately amongst other things the paranormal plot just didn’t really work for me. Perhaps if you’re an aspiring author Darcy’s journey into the publishing world may be of interest to you, or if you love paranormal stories then Afterworlds could be one to pick up!

- It’s also worth noting that due to the fact that Afterworlds essentially contains two novels, the page count is slightly higher than your average YA novel at over 600.


Afterworlds is due for UK release later this month and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now!

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here

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