Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

I was excited about reading this book.  Lots of anticipation and great reviews, so it was next on my To Read list.

I loved the idea of a ‘novel within a novel’; two stories running alongside each other in alternating chapters.  The first story belongs to eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel, who writes a novel during National Novel Writing Month, lands a two-book publishing deal and moves to New York to pursue her career as a writer.

The second story also belongs to Darcy, but it is her novel, Afterworlds.  It is the story of Lizzie, the only survivor of an airport terrorist attack which results in her being able to ‘move over’ to the afterlife.  She meets a sexy death god called Yamaraj, falls in love with him and realises that she has powers to help the dead as their ghosts move to the other side.

There are lots of good things to say about this book.  Both stories are interesting and I enjoyed reading them in tandem.  Darcy’s novel sounds like it is her writing, rather that Westerfelt’s, which is very clever.  The writing and especially the dialogue feels natural, moving the stories along.  So I feel as though I should have enjoyed the book more than I did.

On reflection I think that there were a couple of things bothered me.  Both plots moved along and I enjoyed them, but I wasn’t fully engaged and desperate to find out what happened next.  I was intrigued about the two novel concept.  Each story was interesting to read in its own right but I was expecting them to interact with each other, which they didn’t very much.  The characters were interesting and developed throughout the book, but I didn’t find myself connecting with them.

I finished the book feeling disappointed as I was expecting to have loved this book.  I feel like I am missing something – If you’ve read Afterworlds I would love to know what you think.

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Do The Work

I am a bit behind with a few things this week.  Blogging, NaNo novel (for new readers I am taking part in National Novel Writing Month and attempting to write 50,000 of a novel during November), laundry, general house sorting, to name a few.  I’m blaming half term, (wonderful) family visiting and then a trip to Disneyland Paris, so some lovely distractions!

On Monday I was finally back at my desk writing and I only managed a paltry 744 words that day.  Still, the important thing is that I wrote something.  Some words (however bad they are) are better than no words at all.

A couple of people have asked me, ‘So when do you write?  Do you have to pick a good time when you feel inspired?’  My answer to that has always been,  ‘Actually it’s mostly just about doing the work.’  The most important lesson I have learned this year is that I need to turn up.  So many things demand our time, some more important that others and most do need doing at some point.  But I’m learning that if there’s something I’m passionate about doing, then I need to prioritize it.  Make the time, not find the time.  I need to get on with it.

Of course, some inspiration is useful once in a while (!) but I’ve found that most of my important ideas about plot, characters etc strike me when I’m not actually sat down typing.  I have exciting notebooks full of scribbles all over the place, but the real work takes place here.  Fingers to keyboard.

There is a great pep talk by Kami Garcia on the NaNo website about this which you can look at here  http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/kami-garcia

Love the tough love!  So I better get on with it.  Do the work.