‘Elsewhere’ by Gabrielle Zevin: A Review

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Teenage Fiction, Fantasy
First Published: 2005
Pages: 271

Liz was hit by a car when she was fifteen. She died. And then she woke up in Elsewhere… 

Liz died when she was fifteen-years-old. She was the victim of a hit-and-run accident as she was on the way to the mall to meet her friend so they could buy prom dresses. Suddenly, Liz wakes up in Elsewhere, an afterlife where residents grow younger until they are babies again, when they are sent down the river and back to Earth. Suddenly, Liz realises that she will never have a prom, learn to drive or get a boyfriend.

Struggling to adapt to life in Elsewhere, Liz becomes obsessed with watching her family on Earth, costing her all of her time and money. Then one day, she meets Owen, and she realises that maybe her fifteen years in Elsewhere are a gift after all…

This book actually surprised me because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t read many young adult/teen books now and I was concerned that I may not like it after spending so long reading classics! However, once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down! The concept itself is fascinating – it offers a wonderful alternative of ‘the afterlife’ and is a lovely light read that offers an enlightening story.

Not only is the concept unique, but Zevin bravely decided to narrate the book’s first chapter through the eyes of the family dog, giving a completely different perspective on death from anything I have read anywhere before. As it is a teen book, you have to expect the issues that usually come up in teen books, particularly the element of love. However, it is done in a way that doesn’t make it dominate the plot, and the main focus is constantly on the magical place of Elsewhere.

I would strongly recommend this book, particularly for people who would like a quick, light read. It is incredibly enjoyable, and is really unlike any other book that I can recall!

Favourite quote: ‘Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.’ (p. 234)

Rating: 10/10

Don’t forget that you still have time to enter my giveaway where you can win ‘Elsewhere’ or one of the other books that I have reviewed for my blog!

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Reading List: Next 10 Books to Read

Here are the next ten books that I am planning to read (the order is subject to change.) I have written a brief summary under each of the titles, however, this was just the information I pulled from the blurb. Full length reviews will follow when I have read them

1.‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan (1997)

After a bizarre and fatal hot air balloon accident, Joe Rose never expected his mundane life to take such an unexpected twist.

2. ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ by Haruki Murakami (2006 – in English translation)

A collection of short stories about everything from animated cows and a criminal monkey to a romantic exile in Greece and a chance reunion in Italy.

3. ‘The Omen’ by David Seltzer (1976)

A man exchanges his stillborn son for a new-born orphan. But as the years go on, Robert Thorn begins to unravel the horrible truth about the child that he has raised.

4. ‘Déjà Dead’ by Kathy Reichs (1997)

See Dr Temperance Brennan, Direct of Forensic Anthropology solve her first murder. The series that inspired the television series ‘Bones’. 

5. ‘Carrie’ by Stephen King (1974)

A young girl in New England is not quite what she seems. A demonic force lies behind an innocent face.

6. ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue (2010)

‘Jack is five. He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma.’ Witness the world through Jack’s eyes, a child who was born as a result of abduction and rape. His whole world exists in the only room he has ever known.

7. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Visit the world of Nick Carraway and the mansions that lined Long Island, America in the 1920s and the mystery that surrounds him.

8. ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001)

Ten-year-old Daniel chooses a book from the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ in 1945, but as he grows up, people begin looking for him. It becomes a race to discover the truth.

9. ‘The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes’ by Loren D Estleman (2010)

Conan Doyle’s infamous detective solves Robert Louis Stevenson’s fictional tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (2005)

A sixteen year old girl dies when she is hit by a car. She finds herself is ‘Elsewhere’, where ‘life’ continues as usual, but the inhabitants get younger.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees

The other day I happened to come across a copy of ‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees; a book that I always wanted to read in my early teens but I never got round to it. It was quite a welcome change to read a slightly easier going teen book after the stack of Victorian novels I have read for Uni this year! I had finished the book in a few days and I was reminded of the joy of reading a book that doesn’t require analysing and pulling apart as I read it!

The story is set in 1659, a time of political unrest and of course, the savage witch-hunts. It is told in the form of a journal by a young girl called Mary, who, after her Grandmother’s hanging, discovers that she is a witch. In an attempt to hide her identity and reach safety from persecution she flees to the New World of America. However, overseas life isn’t as any of the travellers expected it, and Mary’s identity cannot be lost so easily.

I was incredibly impressed with this book; it was one that I literally couldn’t put down. I’m glad I finally read it after all these years and it is a book that can appeal to adults and teens alike. At first I was unsure of what to make of the ending as it was left pretty unresolved; however, after considering it, I feel that is the most successful ending Rees could have produced. As we know, there is only one other ending a witch could have expected…

Happy reading!

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X