Sunday, September 30, 2012

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin Review

Name: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Release Date: May 15th, 2007
Format: Paperback
Buy the book on Amazon
304 pages


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?
This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.


My Review:

I really, really wanted to like Elsewhere, but in the end this book just did not do it for me. I had high expectations when I first began reading it and the plot interested me very much; after all, what part of having an afterlife where you grow from an adult to a child doesn’t catch your attention? However, the characters were two dimensional, the plot was predictable, and the overall book was just meant for a much younger audience than I had originally thought.

I found myself disliking almost every one of the characters, no matter how much I wanted to like them. It’s not as if they were completely horrible characters—in fact, most of them were pleasant and even quite relatable. It may have had something to do with how disconnected the characters seemed because the book was written in third person—though that does not usually bother me—but either way I could not help but find most things that the characters did either completely annoying or entirely predictable. When Liz dies and finds herself in Elsewhere at a young age, she spends the first half of the book wishing she was back on earth. When she finally begins to enjoy Elsewhere after meeting a boy and immediately falling in love with him—unfortunately for those YA fans out there, the love story was not played out well at all—she quickly finds herself disliking Elsewhere again, after she and Owen hit a bump in their relationship.

As predicted, the book ends happily, with everyone spending a fulfilled afterlife in Elsewhere. I enjoyed the end of the book much better than the beginning, as it was interesting to see Liz and Owen’s progressions from teenagers back to babies. There were several plots that could have been fleshed out better though, including explaining why Liz’s best friend on Earth did not attend her funeral and describing more about Liz’s friend Curtis and her grandmother Betty’s life together.

That being said, the book was beautifully written. I think that if I had read Elsewhere when I was thirteen or fourteen, I would have enjoyed it much more. While I was not a huge fan of this book, I would definitely recommend it to a younger audience!

My Rating:


  1. I always hate it when I can't relate to the characters. It makes it so hard to keep reading. Predictable, not well executed love.. I'm pretty sure I won't be reading this book any time soon. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts :)

  2. Darn. It's always sad to see books go to waste. I don't think I'll be reading this one. Thanks for your review.
    <3 Inky@ Book Haven Extraordinaire


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