Friday, August 14, 2009

BR: Elsewhere

by Gabrielle Zevin

I've borrowed this book before, but never read it, so it caught my eye when I went to the library the other day. I picked it up and remembered the cover, so now I have it.

Elsewhere is about a 15 year old girl, Liz, who dies in a car accident but turns up in a world called "Elsewhere". At Elsewhere, the people don't get older, they get younger until they become babies and get 'reborn' back on Earth. Liz is upset, since she wants to 'live' her life out, getting older, driving, going to prom, falling in love and all that, but she can't. With the help of her grandma Betty, some other almost-random people, she learns to deal with her death, and live a happy life (death??) on Elsewhere.

This book seems like a love/hate thing for me. Loved: the idea, the 'world' of Elsewhere, and the thought of the 'afterlife'. I thought Zevin was really clever to create this world, with people living backwards almost, in almost a parallel world. They can observe people on Earth, and see how they are carrying on, which can become an obsession and very unhealthy. There are also illegal ways to contact the living. I can see how that may be a problem.

Didn't like (not hated, just disliked): the story. Uggh, I don't want to sound extremely critical or anything, but I just didn't like most of it. The writing was only okay, it wasn't great. Some sentences seemed almost forced, as if it's there just to tell you how Liz is feeling. Such as:

Liz sits in the lone chair.
Liz finds the animation primitive and Polly annoying.
Liz learns the proper way to state her age
Liz waits for Sarah to finish speaking.
As Liz is leaving, she reflects on her last words.

It's like all this stuff is stated, not really 'woven' into the story, if you get what I mean. I felt this would have had so much more potential had it been written in first-person (Liz's) POV. The third-person thing just doesn't seem to work with this, since Liz's emotion are just stated, and not really 'felt'. Maybe it's just me, but I felt the 3rd-person thing made the writing less engaging.

Apart from the writing, I didn't like the romance. Actually, I felt it was extremely poorly written.

*spoilers below*

I mean seriously, Liz and Owen's meeting is fine, but after only a few weeks, she states she's in love with him. Everything between them feels forced, as if Zevin desperately just wanted to have some romantic aspect. It feels like one of those 'first loves' where you're convinced you are in love, since it's like your first time feeling like that. It wasn't very deep or romantic, just almost a deep crush (without much preexisting events apart from 3 movie dates). It was just really unrealistic to me.

*end spoiler*

Didn't like the prologue, I felt that the author could have probably introduced Liz's death better than from a dog's POV. I liked the beginning, when Liz is still half in denial, clinging on to her old life. I felt it was a bit more realistic, with her obsession with the Observation Deck. From a certain point onwards, I had a difficult time enjoying the book, I felt I just wanted to finish it and be done with it (I don't like loose ends, that's why I finish novels).

6.8/10 - because I didn't like a lot of it. However, I though Zevin actually had an extremely unique idea of what happens after death, especially with the living backwards thing. Liz's story was only partially believable and partially good, but I was mostly disappointed with it. I had okay-high hopes for Elsewhere, but it was just a disappointment with the writing and romance. Oh, and I felt the cover is stupid. There is a tiny, insignificant scene regarding the snowglobe. Meh, not a symbol, turning point, or anything. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it, but if you like the "after you die" thing, or the alternate universe stuff, you might like this one.



  1. This is one of the few books EVER that I set down and never picked up after less than fifty pages (I finish almost every book I read). A friend of mine has read this at least 12 times, so I might pick it up (again) and read it real quick. Thanks for the heads-up, though!

  2. Yeah, I was surprised I could finish it, it really grated my nerves :/ Some people say it's their absolute favourite book and I just can't see where they're coming from :P


for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*