Synopsis: Darcy is a young author on the brink of having her first novel published. Lizzie is the sole survivor of a terrorist attack at an airport. And she can now cross over into the world of the dead. And she happens to be the protagonist in Darcy’s novel.
I can assure you that this novel is unlike anything you will have ever read. The story of Darcy and her move to New York to finalise her novel, whilst postponing college is interlinked with the story she has written/is re-writing. The chapters swing between Darcy and Lizzie, which I’d expected to be a little jarring, but actually read quite naturally.
Darcy’s story, which on the surface sounds quite dull, is fascinating; a true coming of age tale involving first love and all the pressures of leaving home and living up to expectations. Her growth throughout the book never feels unrealistic. The insight into the world of YA publishing is so, so interesting and left me hoping that Westerfeld drew on a lot of his own experiences.
“When you get your author’s photo taken, be sure not to touch your face.”
“Why would I do that?”
“It’s a mystery, but quite common. You must have seen this one.” Oscar struck a brooding pose, his fist beneath his chin. “For the author whose brain is too heavy to stay up on its own.”
Lizzie’s story is interesting too, but a little disjointed. I was worried I would find myself rushing through one character’s chapters to reach the others’ (Game of Thrones anyone?), but even though I preferred Darcy’s story, I never skimmed Lizzie’s. The opening chapter is extremely intense, but after that it is does peter off a little. The most masterful part of this book is that Darcy is rewriting Lizzie’s story throughout her chapters and you see the influence of Darcy on Lizzie, or the inspiration behind key parts of Lizzie’s story. Plus the ending of both stories is intertwined but also impossible to predict.
This book defies stereotypes and strives for true originality. Though a book of two halves, I think the originality is there in spades. I did favour Darcy’s story over Lizzie’s, as it felt more real, but I suppose that was the whole point! For anyone looking for a great, unusual read or even anyone with any interest in publishing: I would highly recommend giving this a read.