Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds Book Cover Afterworlds
Scott Westerfeld
YA, Paranormal
Simon Pulse
Sep 23 2014

Scott Westerfeld is a huge favourite with a lot of YA readers, and while I understand why that is - and have pointed other readers in his direction, myself - I wasn't really won over by the only book of his I'd read until recently, which was Uglies.  It might have been bad timing, as it came at the end of an initially enthusiastic but ultimately disappointing YA dystopia spree. (Which mostly means I was all "another one?!", and not exactly "this is horribad!")

But I did pick up Afterworlds. (Audio version, about which I will say: Nice. Clear, good voices. No shenanigans.)  I thought it sounded cute, and I was right: It was.  It's also an endearing bundle of motivation for aspiring writers - the ones writing in November and other ones - tidily disguised as a novel, in which we follow the daily life of debut author Darcy Patel - AND read her novel, in alternating chapters.  This is a neat setup, and really highlights how simple everyday things find their way through a brain and into fictional writing.

Personally, I was more entertained by the daily life of an author preparing a novel for publishing, than by the fantasy story with its death god hottie.  Darcy forming new relationships, while learning where she fits now, next to idolized authors and her old high school friends,  while simultaneously discovering a few new things about herself,  is - to me - surprisingly pleasant to read about.  It's like a perpetual daydream and wish fulfillment all the way, which is quite rare, and usually boring at length.  Of course, the other story, in which a psychopomp and a death god make eyes at each other while other things also happen,  is... nice.  Neither story would be good enough on its own, to me, but they go together okay.

(And hey, I'm not voicing an opinion on whether or not Darcy's debut adventure is realistic, because I have no idea. I know it differs from how it works around here, but "around here" is not "there", so there's that. And it doesn't really matter on the whole pleasantness scale of things.  I added this parenthesis because I happened to see the words "SO unrealistic!!" in someone else's review, which... it didn't even occur to me to comment on until I saw it, because I really took for granted it was supposed to be fun! rather than realistic!)

Would I recommend it? Possibly, as a feel-good read, to the kind of people who still watch old Friends episodes because it's comfortable.  (Or younger ones who do some kind of equivalent of that, I guess.)  Light comfort-books have a place in many lives. (This one has terrorists and afterlife and ghosts and all, but still.)

If you're looking for something more than niceness, you could probably choose better.

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