Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date: May 15, 2007
Publisher: Square Fish
Age Rating: Readers over 12
My Opinion: 9/10
I recently saw a magazine article that discussed how a vacation can be influenced by what you read. A good vacation is improved with a quality novel, while a bad vacation seems even worse if you've packed a boring book. Luckily, I brought Elsewhere along on my vacation, and it entertained me through a couple of rainy days. It is a lighthearted read that is at the same time thought provoking. Plus, Elsewhere's timeless qualities make it interesting for readers of all ages.
Liz Hall gets into a biking accident and dies instantly at a mere fifteen years old. Sounds like the end of her story, right? Well, Liz wakes up on an enormous cruise ship that is traveling through an enormous ocean. She can't remember how she has gotten there or where she is going. After going exploring with a friendly roommate named Thandi and meeting the late musician, Curtis Jest, Liz comes to the realization that she is dead. Of course, this discovery is not taken lightly. The cruise ship finally reaches land, called Elsewhere, and Liz has no idea what is coming next. When she is greeted by her deceased grandmother, Betty, who appears to only be thirty years old, she slowly begins to learn about life in Elsewhere. However, her discoveries in Elsewhere are life-altering (or should I say death-altering?), and Liz's perspectives of life and death are changed forever.
In this case, I don't feel that any summary of the novel could do it justice. Gabrielle Zevin is able to create an entire alternate universe in a mere 277 pages. She brings up questions such as what happens after death in a philosophical and respectful way. One of Zevin's smartest decisions is to leave religion out of the picture - she therefore avoids upsetting readers with her creation of an afterlife. Also, Zevin completely changes the rules of society in Elsewhere by making people age backwards and not care about money. Although these concepts seem vague and difficult to comprehend, they are explained clearly in the novel and seem almost realistic. Additionally, although Elsewhere is completely fictional, Zevin still deals with real-life issues such as depression and romance. She perfectly blends the fantastic (talking animals, etc.) with the realistic.
One of the best parts about Elsewhere is that it is suitable for a wide audience. Both teens and grown-ups alike will enjoy reading this fun and yet philosophical novel, both because of its interesting plot line and because of its lovable characters. If you have any time left in your summer to read, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Elsewhere.