Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

afterworlds_450Information: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld was published in 2014 by Simon Pulse.

Plot Summary: Darcy can hardly believe it, but she’s getting her young adult novel published. Darcy had been writing as part of the National Writing Month of November, but now she has convinced her parents that she needs to spend her summer in New York to do the rewrites and work with her publisher. But when she gets there, she quickly realizes the big New York wasn’t at all what she had expected and wonders if she’s taken on more than she can handle. In alternating chapters, Darcy’s book comes to life as her character Lizzie struggles to get her life back together after surviving a terrorist attack. But then she realizes her brush with death has given her the ability to see beyond the living. Now she has to decide if she wants to risk her life again by helping those that are already dead.  

Critical Evaluation: Afterworlds is a creative way of blending contemporary teen novels with the supernatural. In alternating chapters, Westerfeld presents the life of a young author, showing readers, it’s definitely a hard life, but a possible one, nonetheless. But then he keeps adventurous readers drawn in by the wild chapters of Darcy’s novel, where Lizzie is struggling in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Afterworlds is a great representation of how young adult novels are blending genres and interests, while continuing to evolve year after year. Westerfeld also shows how many teens keep up with these trends and are eager to be a part of the writing world themselves.

Reader’s Annotation: Darcy is just a high school graduate, trying to make her new life as a New York writer work, while not letting her brand new novel fall apart in the process. Lizzie is Darcy’s main character, struggling to deal with the fact that a near brush with death has opened up her eyes to the Afterworld, where the dead are being hunted by a mysterious creature.

Author’s Information: Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

His book Evolution’s Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier’s Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association (Goodreads).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • Would Darcy’s and Lizzie’s chapters be powerful enough on their own? Or do they compliment each other in some way?
  • Does Westerfeld show a realistic life of being a young author? What other careers can teens get started on now?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 and Ages 14-18

Challenge Issues: Violence, Language, Death

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Westerfeld, S. (2014). Afterworlds. New York, New York: Simon Pulse.

Afterworlds is the perfect blending of contemporary and fantasy. Westerfeld shows readers who want to be writers the struggles of the author’s life, while also giving readers the compelling supernatural storylines readers have come to expect from him. Westerfeld has captured diverse interests in a wild, yet relatable story of high school teens, just trying to live their lives the way they’re meant to.

Other recommendations like this book include: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, This Side of Home by Renée Watson, and The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Aurealis Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel & for Best Young Adult (2014)
  • The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2015)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book because of its multiple appeals to many different genres. While there is something in it for most, the novel has the strong message that dreams are possible to achieve. Dreams are hard, but definitely possible.


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