Hardcover, 277 pagesBorrowed from the library
Read February 2017
I read this because a student in my YA literature class asked to do an Honors conversion, and selected this novel as the basis for her supplementary research project. She ended up opting to not complete the research project. I wish she had, partially for the selfish reason that maybe it could have convinced me there was something more to this book. The fundamental idea is okay: when you go to the afterlife, you live there as you age backwards until you're a baby again, and then you get dispatched back to the real world to begin a new life. Zevin's afterlife is weirdly conventional, and conventionally contemporary America at that: people have jobs and drive on highways and stuff. But on the other hand, animals talk? A mundane afterlife could work, but in Elsewhere I felt like it was more a lack of imagination than anything else-- there's no coherent logic that backs this up. Like, where does money even come from? Why is everything like middle-class 21st-century America? Where are all the dead Chinese and Indian people, who surely would make up the majority of the residents of Elsewhere? A good book could get away with leaving out this kind of detail, but this book isn't that good. It's not terribly tedious or anything, but it sure takes its time with things. The sparse style is going for literary, I think, but it mostly comes across as underwritten.