Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

In Gabrielle Zevin's novel Elsewhere, Liz is fifteen, looking forward to turning sixteen and getting her driver's license, when everything changes. She's riding her bike, only three months from driving a car instead of using her bike as her main mode of transportation, when she is hit by a car. She wakes up on a ship, sharing a room with a girl named Thandi who has what looks like a bullethole in the back of her head. Liz doesn't look like she normally does, either; she doesn't have any hair. In this "dream," as she thinks it is, things are a little weird. There are no modern electronic devices on the ship, and everyone with the exceptions of herself, Thandi, and Liz's favorite singer, Curtis Jest, is over 80.

After watching her own funeral (used by her high school principal as an opportunity to lecture on traffic safety), Liz realizes that this is no dream. Nor is it exactly her "life." Liz is dead. She was killed in a car crash, and, in the world skillfully created by Gabrielle Zevin, this is where people go once they die. On a ship. Of course, boats have to go somewhere, and this one finally lands in Elsewhere. The afterlife, though not as anyone on earth imagined it. In Elsewhere, for one thing, people age backwards. Liz will never turn sixteen (but they'll still let her get a driver's license); instead, she'll be turning fourteen again, under the care of her dead grandmother, who is surprisingly young (about the same age as Liz's mother).

Elsewhere, though the people grow younger rather than older, is a lot like earth. Some artists continue their work here (you can see new paintings by Picasso!), just as they did on earth. Marilyn Monroe is a psychiatrist. Everything you can find on Earth--music, books, artwork--you can find Elsewhere. Elsewhere, Liz thinks, "could have been a walk to the next town or an hour's ride in the car or an overnight plane trip." It shouldn't be too hard adjusting to this...right?

Gabrielle Zevin's first YA novel is brilliant, and readers can only hope there will be a second! Sad, hopeful, creative, and well-written, this is a book that is not to be missed. The afterlife in Elsewhere is an original, interesting view of things that is somewhere between the heaven and hell spoken of by most religions; as has been said, this afterlife is a lot like an extension of life on earth, only backwards. It seems like a nice place, a happy place to be--except for what it takes for people to get there. Gabrielle Zevin creates this world brilliantly, in a novel that is sure to have readers hooked from the very first page. Definitely worth your money; you'll want to read this book, sure to be a favorite with readers of all ages for a long time to come, again and again.

Rating: 9/10

18 comments:

I'm not telling you. said...

I like the description of this book, but I think you should explore the characters more in-depth - I would rather like to read a review that makes me personally identify with the characters. Also, maybe you shouldn't give the whole plot away. This reads much like a summary - but not an actual review like they do on Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews etc etc etc. But it is catchy, and you seem to be really dedicated.

Anonymous said...

i like the review, but curtis jest isn't 80, he's THIRTY.
everything else is very nice.
good job! ^^

Anonymous said...

THIS IS TO ANONYMOUS
who ever wrote this review meant that everyone except liz,thandie and curtis are under eighty!
i understood that and i'm not even english!!!!!

i think the review is great well done to you!!!

Lil Miss P. said...

Im reading this book for junior high and i finished it in 2 days. i just coudnt put it down. gabrielle zevin is a great author with a fabulous mind.

Anonymous said...

your all idiots....THIS BOOK WAS RETARDED!! Screw you all for liking it

said...

Well done review! You really show you're devotion and love for "Elsewhere" in your writing. And just to let you know, it's one of my favorites also!

A_Corona said...

OKAY SO LIKE I LOVED THIS BOOK. IT TOOK ME ONLY A DAY TO FINISH IT AND TO THAT ANONYMOUS PERSON THAT SAID THEY HATED THIS BOOK

WHAT THEN HOMIE WHY DON'T YEW USE YER REAL NAME
STOP BEING A LITTLE BITCH AND BE ALL ANONYMOUS....

FORGET YEW
YEW OBVIOUSLY DON'T GOT GOOD TASTE...


THIS WAS THE BEST BOOK EVA!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought that this book was excellent. I loved the way it was written, and its unique plot made it impossible for me to put it down! I finished it in a day, and I think that it is awesome! One of the best books I've read recently!

~Hannah

Anonymous said...

This book was a really good book i am not done with it yet but will soon!!!

Anonymous said...

HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

HIIIIIII!! i like big boobs like liz wanted!! want to have sex like liz did!! lol im bored lmfao! all yal are pussys!!!!!! u to NEEL sike na

Anonymous said...

I chose to read it for my nutmeg book and I think it deserves to win. It's suspenseful and and an all around great book. I couldn't put it down.

i'mnotsurewhattoputherebecausetheysaynottoputyourrealnaminthesethings... said...

i absolutely loved this book. i found it intriguing, yet carefully written. i'm doing this for a fantasy book report, and there is so much to write about! i finished this in two days, and the review was great!

Anonymous said...

I think the review was pretty good. Except it could use some more descriptive words to eplain the plot of the story.


p.s. Curtis Jest is 30!

Anonymous said...

Books that children read should inspire, motivate, and teach on thing worthy. This book does none of that.

This book plants many seeds for the reader. None of them are any good.

1) Sex in marriage is boring so go and have fun now.

2) Dead little kids get free trips and meet work famous rock stars - suicide is looking like an option here.

3) Liz watches her sister loose her virginity on prom night. What a thought to plant in a young girl's mind or a young boy for that matter.

4) The book teaches religion (I know, it's a novel), but it still teaches religion (reincarnation).

5) There are two instances of language.

I would not recommend this book at all.

Anonymous said...

This book was a peice of shit. it had no fucking climax. who the fuck wants to read about talking dogs.

Anonymous said...

i think this book was awesome and i really enjoyed reading it!!!! Gabriel has done a great job!!!! after reading this book atleast i have good things in my mind about Death!!!!
who knows what comes after death so i think Gabrielle has a great sense of imagination
by Razeel

Anonymous said...

Thanks for killing the book!! you gave it all away! thats a stupid thing to do!