ISBN-13: 9781481435055
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 23 September 2014
Format: Trade Paperback, 599 pgs
Source: Personal Library

A novel within a novel. That's what Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld's is about. With two different settings through alternating chapters, readers are whizzed into two worlds; one of the present through Darcy Patel and another through Lizzie Scofield, the character from Darcy's YA novel, Afterworlds. Simply put, it's like reading two books at the same time. 

The story opens with 18-year-old Darcy sending her query letter to Underbridge Literary Agent and getting an acceptance from them. She's going to get published and she's heading to New York City. There, she befriended a few authors like her as she's trying to learn the ropes from them. The writing industry can be a competitive world, and Darcy is scared and excited at the same time. 

Lizzie's story, is equally exciting but far more dangerous. Through Darcy's imagination, she becomes the sole survivor of a terrorist attack by feigning dead. However, she must have went into it deeply because the next thing she knew, she found herself in Afterworld, a place where dead people roams. There, she met this attractive guy called Yamaraj, who happens to be a psychopomp (in other words, a reaper). Lizzie becomes one of them after her near death experience, and she's able to travel between the real world and the Afterworld (by calling out to Yamaraj at first). But, as we could tell, Afterworld is a dark and dangerous place filled with ghosts and other supernatural beings. Added to the complexity is Lizzie's attraction towards Yamaraj.  

Although the concept of a novel within a novel isn't something new (though not commonly used), it is, however, my first time reading it. I liked the two protagonists, Darcy and Lizzie. Despite the different settings, they are girls who are trying hard to fit into a place so different from their own. However, as much as I enjoyed this concept of having two stories merged into a book, my interest wavered the more I flipped through those pages. The two stories did captivate me, but I felt they are a distraction due to the alternating stories. I think it might be different if the two stories are split to parts as a whole, but then again I suppose the concept might be lost. As much as I wanted to enjoy this story, I just felt that this concept doesn't work for me. So what I did is read Darcy's chapters and then going back to Lizzie's. 

Before ending this post, I'm curious to know: Have you ever came across such a style and did it bother you? 
6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    I love the notion of two alternating storylines, but in practice it's pretty difficult to pull off. I've read a lot of books that tried it, and relatively few that made both storylines equally engaging.

  2. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I find the notion of having two alternating storylines is pretty interesting, but I'm afraid it fizzled on me. If I come across such style the next time, I'm afraid I've to give it a miss.

  3. I love books written in this type of format--but only if it's done well. I think it can be tricky though and so doesn't always work well.

  4. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I think this concept is creative but it just don't fit to my reading. Or maybe I need full concentration on one story at a time.

  5. jenclair Says:

    I agree with Jenny and Wendy, the concept is difficult to make work. I've read some that I've enjoyed, but usually one story is much more interesting, and when that happens, the other story line becomes a bit tedious.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Yes, that too. One story will tend to stand out than the other and it's another reason why it made me hard to focus.

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