Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, so I’ve been super excited for this book since I heard what it’s about. Also, since seeing the friendly twitter sparring between @scottwesterfeld and @realjohngreen (because John is written into the book – and those parts always made me smirk knowingly because they were so accurate). I put off buying it until the Texas Teen Book Festival, which was so fun and Scott was a dear to work with as a volunteer. I’m pretty sure this book is my soulmate.

Afterworlds is actually two books. (For the price of one!) One narrative line follows Darcy, a fresh new YA author who moves to New York City after signing with a publisher for her first book. The other line is Darcy’s book, Afterworlds.

For an English major with an interest in pursuing book publishing for Young Adult fiction in NYC, this book was everything I could ever have wanted – it was eerie how well it fit into my life. I actually found myself reading slower and slower because I did not want for it to end. So, can someone give me $100,000 so I can live in a $3,500/mo loft in Manhattan? Sounds like a dream. Darcy really had it made.

This book had me on an emotional merry-go-round from the beginning. A third of the way through, I had felt both downright terror the first time they visit the ghost school building and giggly giddiness when Darcy and Imogene kiss. Speaking of, when Imogene first mentioned her ex-girlfriend, I thought “Oh no. She’s going to hit on Darcy and become the stereotypical vampire lesbian, preying on the new girl” and “If Imogen makes a pass at Darcy, I’m probably gonna have to kill Scott Westerfeld.” BUT, my worries flew away like feathers upon reading the rooftop scene, so expertly written as to not offend me.

I also had multiple moments where I, mercifully alone at the time, was taken so off guard that I had to say aloud, “Wait, WHAT?” Moments of loud and necessary laughter as well. I haven’t read much by Scott Westerfeld since junior high, but this is definitely him at his best.

I’m already looking forward to reading back through Afterworlds and flagging quotes to come back to. My favorite thing about this novel, by far, is being able to see the changes and influences in Darcy’s writing as the plot unfolds. It reminded me of my Intro to Creative Writing Class. The question of where ideas come from and what is okay to borrow from is just – so – provoking, I guess is the word I’m looking for? I feel like Darcy makes her peace with this when she signs Kiralee Taylor’s book. And I’m so freaking glad that someone has finally foregrounded the VERY present problem of appropriating religious beliefs into trendy stories! Yes. Not only does Scott write about the subject without skirting around it, he does so in a book for Young Adult readers who may have read the stories in question and never thought about the problem of appropriation.

I’m not saying this book was perfect, because no book ever is. I’m just saying that it’s definitely coming with me to New York next year.

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