50 Books by Authors of Color: Book 49
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
What happens to us when we die? Gabrielle Zevin delves into this question in her young adult novel Elsewhere. Fifteen-year-old Liz wakes up on the S.S. Nile, a ship that is taking her to a place known only as Elsewhere. Along with her roommate aboard the S.S. Nile, Thandi (who is sixteen) discover slowly that they are dead, Liz, the victim of a hit and run, and Thandi, the victim of a drive by shooting. Actually, it takes Liz a while to figure that she’s dead, Thandi figures it our pretty quickly, but this slow realization thing is just kind of what Liz does throughout the book.
Basically, the way things work in Elsewhere is that you age backwards from your death, and then once you’re a seven day old baby you’re sent down the river back to Earth and you start living again, as a new person. This happens to everyone, people, dogs, and cats, whatever. Liz is met at the docks by her deceased grandmother, Betty, who died before Liz was born of breast cancer who has de-aged? Un-aged? I don’t know, Betty now appears to be physically younger than Liz’s own mother.
Okay, this book was annoying in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it, but dear god. Liz died before she got her drivers license, and she doesn’t shut up about it. Granted it’s a major plot point for her and Owen, but still, you don’t have to mention it every five minutes. Life isn’t fair, granted, Liz is fifteen but this character just seemed like she’d never been told “no” before.
Anyways, She meets Owen Wells, who is basically a Coast Guard type police officer who catches people who are trying to make contact with the living. Owen appears to be about seventeen, but I’d consider him to be thirty-two. I’m not really one who thinks that looking like a teenager is an excuse for acting like one, but this doesn’t stop Owen from doing some serious crushing on Liz and vice versa. I can’t blame Liz as much, but Owen, who I think is very much aware of his actual age (because he’s still pretty obsessed with his still living wife). The whole thing pretty much devolves into an awkward living, dead, dead love triangle that’s just weird.
However, Liz being able to speak canine and having some really cute sounding dogs did help.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 It’s like Sarah Dessen took some acid.