Review: Elsewhere – Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date: September 9, 2005
Opening Sentence: “‘The end came quickly, and there wasn’t any pain.'”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. 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.
Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. 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. 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?

I’ve only read a couple books about an “afterlife”. Every book I’ve ever read or heard of had Heavens and Hells and in-between worlds where the main character tries to fix things or come back to life. That’s all fine and dandy, but I was excited to come across Elsewhere and see that it’s about a world that’s not too different from how things work on Earth. Well, maybe except for the fact people die on Earth, arrive at Elsewhere on a cruise ship, and start getting younger from the age they died at. Wait, what?

The concept of Elsewhere is so unique. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything else like it and I was bursting to read it from the moment I read the description. It certainly was an interesting story to read, but honestly I was a tad disappointed by it. Maybe I was expecting too much, but there was something about the overall book that sort of flopped. It was entertaining enough, but I feel like the book was so fast paced it almost felt rushed. There would have been no complaints from me had things been slower and maybe more in depth. Oh, well.

As for the characters: I didn’t really like the main character, Liz, all that much. I mean, I didn’t dislike her, but she acted like a childish fifteen year old a lot of the time. And quite right too, considering she was a childish fifteen year old. I also was pretty apathetic about her love interest. Whatever. I really loved Liz’s grandmother and a guy named Curtis Jest. It’s unfortunate they were lesser characters, because I think the story would have been better with more of the both of them. In fact, there’s an even lesser known character (than Curtis and the grandmother) that I liked more than the main. Again, there wasn’t anything particularly bad about Liz… I just wasn’t exactly rooting for her.

For the most part: I liked this book, but my expectations were for something better than what I eventually got. I wasn’t completely impressed by Elsewhere, but it was a good and enjoyable book and worth the read.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


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