This week we’re taking it back to teen fiction with Scott Westerfeld’s “Afterworlds.” Published in 2014, “Afterworlds” follows an emerging author, 18-year-old Darcy Patel, as she moves to New York City to publish her first novel. After writing an entire first draft in a single month, she signs a big-time book deal. Darcy balances edits, budgeting, first love, and writing a sequel all at once. Her situation makes for an interesting insight into the world of publishing. Not only do we get to see Darcy’s journey through the wild world of YA fiction, we also get the privilege of reading her novel along the way.
Westerfeld combines two books into one, allowing readers to experience Darcy’s personal story and the one that she creates simultaneously. Darcy’s book is a paranormal teen romance based on the Hindu God of death. Her main character, Lizzie, is the lone survivor of a terrorist attack. This close encounter with death allows Lizzie to enter the afterworld, acting as a human guide for ghosts. She meets the intriguing Death God Yamaraj who teaches her how to use her new-found powers. Lizzie’s adventures with fleeting romance and scary monsters reflect the edits that Darcy struggles to make throughout the novel, revealing the difficulty of writing in the teen fiction genre.
“Afterworlds” is an excellent book for aspiring writers and lovers of the paranormal. Westerfeld shows readers what it takes to make it on your own as a YA author. He also entertains readers though Lizzie’s experiences with death and romance. Westerfeld has really brought something new to the genre of teen fiction, allowing the paranormal and reality to go hand in hand to create an inside look at what it’s really like to be an author.