Author: Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: Abandoned, Realistic fiction, Fantasy/pnr/everything untoward, Hot like meh, Let me down
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
Let’s have it already: this was a terribly monotonous read.
It tells a story and within that, another, or should I say, the latter runs sideways with the other? Basically, Darcy Patel has written a paranormal romance and Afterworlds relays the entire process of publishing, editing, mingling in not that particular author from the eyes of a young, upcoming writer who only knows to weave tales, not pass discreet tests she didn’t ask for, while in alternate chapters, we also get to read her novel named the same, most likely its finished copy.
The seemingly parallel tales have their own set of problems.
Considering Afterworlds is over 600 pages long, half of them gobbled up by the story within, I felt no compulsion to cut it some slack even if it was written, story-wise, by a 17yo. And might I just say it was acutely inadequate and well, cliched. I suppose I should mention that I only read about 25% and mayhap, it becomes a mind-fuck or even fun/pleasurable after that point, with several new interesting concepts, but my personal experience remained unsatisfactory, chore-like. I’m not reading a book if it feels like a chore, even for school.
Moreover, both are protagonists are uninteresting, lacking layers or depth to their character. They seem gratuitously ordinary. Ordinary in terms we think of when we forget we are ordinary, when ordinary becomes boring, comfortable blue all around.
I think I could have gotten into Darcy’s story had there been the littlest effort to make her character less about the publishing process, and a teensy bit more about her, because she’s Indian. As in, Asian Indian(just like meeeeee!), with strict parents who adhere to the belief that education is the only thing in life and will make all sorts of sacrifices and judgements and decisions for their daughters, to that end(just like meeeee!). Heh. I guess I was more into her parents than I was into her. But whatever…
There are numerous issues that come up relating to Hinduism and writers of color and go on to show the troubles impregnating the publishing business, and reading business and ignorant white people in general. An author says that Darcy looks “Hindu.” There’s a certain notion also that if a PoC plunders religious myths in their novels, it’s okay but for white people, it isn’t. Much fucking bullshit, but I liked that the author didn’t come across as such, though the fact that he takes no stand on the matters was a bit irksome.
Anyways, one thing I did like is that Hinduism is referred to as Darcy’s parents religion, not her own, since she doesn’t seem to have any kind of piety or religious affiliations or feelings.
Liz deals with/falls for a death god, only this time around he’s from Hindu myths. This guy:
who looks like this guy(I had to google him up but I think I’ve seen him around on the telly):
I just cannot see anyone saying Yamaraj delicately, sexily, dreamily. I cannot.
If anyone can, I do NOT want to hear it.
Gah, now I know what it feels like to see characters you reviled as a child, were made to revile or even see in a totally non-romantic way, are absorbed into the raging beastly Blob that is eventually going to eat the world but started out as the paranormal industry.
That wasn’t the basis, or even the beginning, of my problems. I mostly hated the telling. It was not conducive to the story and couldn’t draw me in at all. Not to mention that Yamaraj as a beautiful, broody, despondent boy is such an overused trope. If you’re gonna be a death god, gonna ferry souls across, make damn sure you’re equipped for it. At least Charon in Percy Jackson and the Olympians was a greedy, resourceful bastard(that I might have had a two-second crush on when I read the first book.)
This story is said to be “much better than your average paranormal romance” and for the life and afterlife and parallel lives and past-lives of me, I can’t figure out why. Maybe because of all the awesomeness I missed out on in the latter 75%? Don’t especially care.
Overall, there’s not enough action in the story wherein I expect it, and not enough poignancy in the other one. Don’t see anything worth to stick around for but maybe YOU’ll do? Who knows? Someone not like meeeee!
Review copy provided by publishers.