Afterworlds contains both a novel about Darcy Patel, a debutante writer just out of high school who has moved to New York and the novel that she wrote, about a girl named Lizzie who can will herself into the afterlife.
**warning: spoilers ahead**
The thing about having two brilliant novels combined into one is that sometimes it can be a sensory overload. However, I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading. I loved living in both Darcy and Lizzie’s world. Darcy’s story especially stood out to me. Her interactions with the other YA writers and the lessons that she has to learn the hard way (about budgeting, falling in love, being an author versus being a writer) make for the kind of story about a writer that I’ve always wanted to read: a YA writer. The only thing about Darcy’s story that didn’t ring true for me was the romance. While I can totally believe that Darcy would be a little bit obsessive about her first love, I find it hard to believe that she and Imogen would have settled down and moved in together so fast and that they would have repaired their relationship at the end of the novel. It read as a bit unrealistic to me, given that Darcy would have to move and finally become a college student. I can see them more as being exes on friendly terms rather than trying for a relationship again. Also, this is just a side note, but I loved the little sister/accountant Nisha! I loved the dialogue between her and Darcy. Another favorite side character of mine: “Standerson,” who is so obviously based on John Green.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was an amazing, unique concept that Westerfeld was (of course) able to pull off with fabulous writing.
The Abandon Series by Meg Cabot
I have before stated that Meg Cabot has been one of my favorite authors since high school. It was no surprise that I enjoyed this newer series by her. Peirce Oliviera and John Hayden make for interesting, enjoyable, and sometimes downright hilarious protagonists. However, this series held a special place in my heart because it was a retelling of the Persephone/Hades myth. I’ve ALWAYS thought Hades got sort of the short end of the stick, and you know what–maybe Persephone’s mom was just REALLY clingy. After all, she did cause eternal winter after her daughter was married (I mean, talk about Helicopter Mom). Also–I’ve always thought it would be cool to be Queen of the Underworld. It was nice to know that I’m not the only one who thought about these things when studying Persephone and Hades. Meg Cabot, being the brilliant author that she is, also brings in a plethora of other fun things into the story as well, such as some of the lore and history of Key West, Florida (Isla Huesos, in the novels) in addition to endangered species that Pierce’s mom loves so much: the Roseate Spoonbills (NOT to be confused with Flamingos!!!).
Here is a picture of such for your enjoyment:
Do a Google Image search for “Baby Roseate Spoonbill” and you will NOT be sorry.
And this is a mourning dove, just like Pierce’s pet bird Hope.
All in all, I think these novels make for a great, October, pre-Halloween read and I recommend them to anyone who is a Meg Cabot fan or who enjoys a good retelling of a great Greek myth.
As an added bonus, I’m including the song “Bones” by MsMr, because I think it is the PERFECT song for this series.
The Dark Divine tells the story of siblings Jude and Grace Divine: your average preacher’s kids living in Minnesota with average high school struggles. Jude is, of course, the Golden Child. Grace isn’t quite as holy as her brother, but she does her best to be self-sacrificing. Everything is, of course, disrupted by the sudden reappearance of the Divine’s prodigal adoptive child, Daniel. Grace was always in love with Daniel and just a little bit worshipful of his beauty and his natural artistic ability. And three years after he and Jude had some sort of incident, Grace finds that she still has feelings for him (despite his less than charming bad-boy attitude). Despite Jude expressly forbidding her to speak with him, despite everyone’s warnings (including Daniel’s own) about his character, Grace helps him find a place within their community and continues to love him, no matter how much of a monster he might be.
The Dark Divine explores the idea of monsters living amongst humans–and the struggle to define what a monster truly is. Definitely an interesting take on the werewolf mythology–the idea that werewolves started out as protectors of humanity. I enjoyed the book although I think there were definitely weak points in the writing (Grace’s friend April was a particularly flat character and I also think Grace’s mom never quite got much explanation or sympathy). I did find Grace’s decision to either be loyal to her brother or to be with Daniel to be fascinating. It’s the same struggle Maggie has in George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss. Also, there are of course parallels to Wuthering Heights–they can be found in nearly every YA paranormal romance (though of course the hero usually turns out to be MUCH nicer than Heathcliff ever was). I’ve got the sequel, The Lost Saint, sitting on my shelf. Eventually I will read it, but for now I have quite a lot of other books to finish–including the third installment in Meg Cabot’s Abandon series and also Wild by Chery Strayed.
Also, as an added bonus, I think Hozier’s song “Take Me to Church” is the perfect song to go with this book. And I love Ed Sheeran’s cover: