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Darcy Patel has put everything on hold to publish her YA Paranormal Romance novel, including college (Oberlin!). She's even moved to New York City to be better connected to the publishing world and work on her writing. She has no friends in New York, but she is quickly able to befriend a group YA writers, some that have been around the block a few times and others who are just getting started.
Lizzie, the leading character of Darcy's novel called Afterworlds, becomes a psychopomp/ reaper/ Valkyrie, after she survives a terrorist attack at an airport. As a pomp, she realizes she can see ghosts and travel to the Afterworld, aka the Flip Side. She realizes that she has been haunted for a very long time in the form of a little girl. The little girl, Mindy, was her mother's best friend who died a horrific death 30 years ago. Oh, and she meets another psychopomp called Yama and his ghostly sister Yami. Psychopomps lead the dead to the place they are meant to go after death, and they also, like Yama, help remember who them so they won't fade away.
I greatly enjoyed reading the dual perspectives of both Darcy and Lizzie. Westerfeld does a fantastic job of telling two completely different yet interconnected tales. I found myself invested pretty heavily in each, both for different reasons. I liked getting to know Darcy, her friends, and everything she learns about YA novels and the publishing industry. Her story very much fits into the contemporary genre, and it is most definitely grounded in the real world. Her character's journey is also grounded in the real world, but then the story shifts dramatically into the paranormal and fantasy genres.
By the way, I listened to the audiobook. I loved the production and the use of two separate narrators making it much easier to keep track of the two perspectives.
If you love reading both contemporary and paranormal, or maybe just one of them, you should definitely look into Afterworlds. You'll find yourself completely drawn in! The characters are all remarkably well-written and the worlds are also very well drawn. Westerfeld definitely "has the juice".
I listened to this audiobook from November 14 - 21, 2014 and my review can also be found on Goodreads.