11 October 2009

Review: ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin ****

"Welcome to Elsewhere. It is usually warm with a breeze, the sun and the stars shine brightly, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful here. And you can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.
It’s where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different from it. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth.
But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen (again). She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. She wants to fall in love. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well.
How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?"

The summary above sums the book up quite well and even from those few lines you can tell how original this story is. I loved it! I don't believe in the afterlife of any kind, but I think I'll pretend to believe in this version since it's just so comforting, hehe. To me, Elsewhere makes much more sense than Heaven or Hell or anything else and it would just be oh so lovely if things were actually like that. You die, but then you wake up on this ship called the SS Nile, which takes you to Elsewhere, where you get allocated and find your avocation and enjoying your life/death while getting younger every day until day one when you're ready to be sent back to Earth again. How delightful!

As I said, what I loved by far the most about this novel was the originality of the story, which is also cute and bittersweet. There aren't any huge twists and turns, but you just can't stop reading and even though the novel deals mostly with death, which is a supposedly tragic thing, the novel won't make you sad at all - instead, it's put a permanent smile on your face and leave you feeling all warm inside.

The characters were lovely and the writing was quite simple, but it worked. Those things however were secondary to me in this case, I mostly enjoyed reading about Elsewhere and I have to say I found the book slightly too short and the end too rushed. It was satisfactory and there was closure, but I wanted to read more about Liz's last years in Elsewhere.

I really enjoyed this book and I would love to rate it 5/5, but I can't quite ... Can't explain why, maybe because it left me wanting more? Either way, the book was fantastic and oh how I wish Elsewhere was real, hehe!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 3/5

ps: I read & rated the book with the UK cover (next to the summary), but I personally prefer the US cover, pictured on the right. It's far more true to the story since Liz buys a very similar snowglobe during her first days in Elsewhere. The UK one is alright, but I really prefer the US cover in this case.


Janssen said...

I couldn't agree more about the ending. It just didn't QUITE work there at the end for me.

April said...

I have this waiting to be read on my shelf! Also, I love how beautiful your blog is, all the pink makes me super happy :-D

Interesting thoughts on the afterlife. I'm not sure I believe in an afterlife either, but it is fascinating how others imagine it to be. There's a new book floating around called the Ever After which also focuses on the afterlife, it might be a good follow-up to Elsewhere :-D

bookalicious said...

Janssen - glad to hear I'm not the only one who wasn't entirely satisfied, I wanted more!

April - aww, thanks, glad you like it! Hope you'll enjoy the book too, it's really good! And oh yeah, I've seen Ever After around, been meaning to check it out since it does sound pretty good!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I've read this and I have to say I really love the top cover. So lovely.

Charlotte (The Book on the Hill) said...

This summary makes me think of a mix between The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (because of the age-reverse thing), The Five People You Meet in Heaven (because of, well, the obvious) and Neverwhere (but that's just me and the title !). In short : it makes me want to read it !

P said...

This sounds amazing!!!!

biblio794 said...

This book sounds really cool =)

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