"Darcy writes the words. Lizzie lives them."
Rating (out of five): 4.5
My little cousin Aiden bought me this book for Christmas (he's the sweetest.) Basically, when I saw it in Target and read the book description I cried wanting it so bad. My mom wouldn't let me get it, even with my own money. It was all very wrong and weird and I'm not at all ashamed.
Westerfeld is a pretty accomplished author, to start. He wrote the Uglies series, which is about a dystopian society in which people are turned "pretty" as a certain age. I read it a few years before I read this book and thought it was all right. Not bad, for sure but certainly not fantastic. It was a whole lot of not so much with an incredible beginning and a gripping end. So that being said, I was expecting Afterworlds to be good but not the best.
Boy, was I wrong. This book's on the list of my all-time favorite reads.
Darcy is a writer. She's only eighteen and has just graduated from high school, but she's skipping her first year of college to head to new york city to promote her book. Why? Because she just signed the biggest. Freaking. Deal. of the century. Boy, would I love to be her. So this eighteen year old, Indian teenager who's never lived without her parents and depends heavily on her little sister heads out to the big apple to hang out with the big dogs. She rents an apartment and has drinks with her favorite authors and gets her first kiss. It all seems like a fairy tale, really. (well, to a writer that's a fairy tale.) But while Darcy is in New York City she has to make revisions to her book-- one of which includes changing the ending to her book. This is hard for Darcy and it would be hard for me. I mean, you chose the ending for a reason. But during her stay in the city Darcy changes. Her view on love and life and happy endings change. And her changing shows up in this book she's writing it.
But this is only half of the story.
Every other chapter in Westerfeld's book is the story that Darcy has written. It's the story of Lizzie (yes, he really named his two characters Lizzie and Darcy. Hardy har) who is on her way to come back home from New York City when she witnesses a terrorist attack in the airport. Frantically trying to escape, the 911 operator tells her to play dead. Well, Lizzie plays dead a little to well. She crosses the border from this world to the next and meets the charming king of death. He tells her little, being cautious. He says 'believing is dangerous' and offers her a kiss to send her home. The story is simple. She returns home with her mother, ignoring the death king's words to cross over again and again. But Lizzie is being foolish. In her growing love for this ghostly boy and her being naive, she makes many mistakes and grows much. A little like....
Dare I say it?
So it's a little bit simple. Darcy grows and with her the manuscript grows. But it's kind of beautiful, you know? Especially as a young writer this story made me not only hopeful (her deal was so unreal) but it helped me to realize why I love writing.
To end, I'd like to offer two things.
The first-- buy this book. Borrow this book. Grab it from the library. It was altering to me to read it.
The second-- it's a quote from my angst journal. (So, yeah, I call my diary an angst journal. Sue me.) I was doing a lot of thinking that day, about why I do what I do. Why I care so much about leading a life in this fashion. So here it is--
"I write because if I change just one person's mind I will know that I can be changed."
It's melodramatic. I know. And it's a little bit different than the message Westerfeld was trying to get across, but it's similar. I write because it matters to me what happens. Where I will go. Where other people will go. When my characters grow I know that I grow as well. And maybe if I help other people grow in the process then I'll die knowing I'll have made a difference.
Gah I'm so sappy.
Buy this book.