Written by Lynnette Lounsbury
Published in Australia February 1st 2014
Thank you to Allen And Unwin
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Dom is the youngest person ever to arrive in the Necropolis, the 'waiting place' between death and what comes after. And it isn't long before he catches the attention of Satarial, a cruel Nephilim from the beginning of time, who has grim plans to use Dom as entertainment in his vicious gladiatorial games. When Dom's still-living sister, Kaide, appears in the Necropolis too, Satarial has the leverage he needs, and the stage is set for the biggest shake-up the afterlife has seen in centuries.Dom's only option is to compete in the Trials and attempt to win the chance to enter the Maze. In his favour he has an enigmatic young Guide, Eva, and a Guardian, Eduardo, who may not be what he seems. But will they be enough?
Dominic has just returned to India, where his adoptive parents now call home, along with older sister Kaide. Kaide loves the wild streets of India, where Dom just wants to retreat within himself. His father has finally opened the clinic to treat the destitute community, a cause his mother decided wasn't worth her effort, now spending her days socializing with wealthy gossips, cold and never seemingly happy.But in an instant, the Mather's family is torn apart and Dom finds himself in the Necropolis, a place where the dead find themselves in limbo, before they pass onto the next journey of their lives.
Not knowing what became of sister Kaide, Dom meets Ava, who's role is to guide him through the afterworld, and along with drunk guardian Dom is the youngest person to have ever entered the gates, and at only fifteen, he's an instant sensation. At first glance, Necropolis seems to be pure and serene, but the inhabitants live in fear of the Nephilim, a group of half human, half angel beings that are in control, including their leader Satarial.
In the afterworld, currency is measured in minutes. Remedial positions attract a measly three minutes per day in wages, and the most you accumulate and keep at any one time is seven days, just enough time to attempt the maze. The maze is the ultimate goal, your destiny in how your heart will be judged whether you are able to move on from the city. But when Dom attracts the attention of Satarial, he may have a chance at winning the minutes he needs to compete. The Nephilim rule with an iron fist, and encourage competitors to compete in the Arena, a gladiator style battle which allows citizens the opportunity to complete the maze. Dominic has no choice when Satarial brings an assurance over from the living world, and reluctantly agrees to the tyrants terms.
But the battle of the Arena is the least of Dom's worries as he is plunged into a world of hieroglyphs to learn, training techniques to survive and an afterworld that is on the verge of a revolution, inspired by the youngest boy to ever reach the city.
Afterworld was slow to start, but provided a rich history and backstory into Dominic's life before he had crossed over. Dominic is from a blended family, his adoptive parents are white, his adoptive sister is Asian and Dominic himself is African American. Dom and Kaide have an easy rapport, teasing one another about their heritage. But where Kaide is happy go lucky, Dom is a deep thinker, emotional and mature beyond his fifteen years. An old soul in the body of a teenage boy. My favourite character was the drunken guardian Eduardo, who himself is hiding a secret. He begun as arrogant, and his less than impressive attitude was exactly what the slow, bland city of Necropolis needed. Satarial is a mild villain, making Afterworld perfect for the younger teen audience, especially teen boys. The Arena and deathly maze will enthrall them.
I loved how Lynnette Lounsbury created a mix of real mythology and make believe, it was enchanting. The Awe, the God representation, felt like a subtle creation to include all religions, making it a suitable read regardless of your own personal beliefs. Unlike so many young adult novels that include mythology, there aren't any long and boring speeches, thank goodness. I applause authors that can create a fantasy world, without turning it into a boring history lesson.
The real action begins when Dominic begins preparing for the arena. From there, it turns into an action adventure, even the sassy Ava gets riled up, especially at Dominic, who begins seeing Ava as more than his personal guide to Necropolis. Teens and even teen boys will really enjoy this one, especially those that enjoy a little Hunger Games style action and adventure.