“Well, honey, maybe you should pretend to be dead.”
The gunman looked up from the wounded on the floor, and I could see the glitter of eyes through the two holes in the mask. He was staring straight at me.
“If there’s no way to get to safety,” she said carefully, “maybe you should lie down and not move.”
He holstered his pistol and raised the automatic rifle again.
“Thank you,” I said, and let myself fall as the gun roared smoke and noise.
We’re introduced to Lizzie Scofield, the main character of the book-within-a-book “Afterworlds”, in the middle of a terrorist attack while she’s on the phone with a desperately calm 911 operator who gives her the last-second advice that saves her life: pretend to be dead. Lizzie drops to the floor, praying that the shooter won’t finish her off like the dozens around her, and somehow wills herself into the underworld. She meets the love of her life in the space between worlds, and then spends the rest of the book trying to find her place in a dangerous new reality where the dead have literally been with her since birth, and where things can happen to you that are a lot worse than dying.
The writer of the Young Adult book “Afterworlds” is Darcy Patel, a teenage writer just graduated from high school. Darcy wrote the draft of her first novel in one month, and manages to get a publisher to sign her to a two-book deal for over a hundred thousand dollars. The alternating chapters of Scott Westerfeld’s book Afterworlds follows Darcy’s choice to move to the big city, living off her advance while she completes the revisions for the book’s final draft, all the while getting to hang out with a supportive crowd of fellow writers. And even though the book she’s writing is filled with ghosts, psychopomps, kingdoms in the afterlife, and a mystical river between worlds, it actually feels like less of a fantasy world than the idyllic year Darcy spends in the Young Adult Writers Heaven in New York City. Read On