Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Otherworldlies: Book Reivew

Title: The Otherworldlies #1
Author: Jennifer Anne Kogler
Rating: 2.5
Age Group: Middle Grades

Cover Thoughts: Ugh, another goth looking girl having her close up, inspiring nothing. Oh well, it's not
horrible, the girl isn't as stupid looking as the girls on the Vampire Academy books and she has more
personality than many of the other girls so that's a plus.

Run Down: (Curtsy of Goodreads) Fern communicates with her dog, blisters from just moments in the sun, and has correctly predicted the daily weather for more than two years. Even so, she's always seemed to be a normal twelve-year-old girl . . . until one day when Fern closes her eyes in class and opens them seconds later on a sandy beach miles away from school. When Fern disappears again, this time to a place far more dangerous, she begins to realize exactly "how" different she is.

With the help of her twin brother, Sam, Fern struggles to gain control of her supernatural powers. The arrival of a sinister vampire in town--who seems to have an alarming interest in Fern's powers--causes Fern to question her true identity. Who "is" she? More importantly, who can she count on? Soon Fern finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old battle--one that could destroy Fern and endanger everyone she loves.
Review: A victim of too many ideas, the wrong audience, and itself. This book isn't horrible, I've read worse and the writing was actually pretty good. Kogler actually turns a phrase pretty well and does a good job with pace and creating likable characters. Fern, Sam, and their mother were great characters who made me smile and sometimes feel bad for them. In many ways they did their jobs well and I'm almost tempted to read the next book just to read about more about them - almost.

While the book moves well and the writing is decent, the story is silly and the kids don't act their age. Fern and Sam are in middle school yet most of the time act like they are in high school. There are also things they put together that most people won't connect yet they do at the crazy age of 12. A year ago I spent weeks with over 200 middle schoolers and I can tell Fern and Sam missed the mark. They were too well behaved, too mature (they had essentially no angst), too calm about crazy things happening, and too steadfast to things they should have questioned. That said, they were great characters and would have been close to perfect if they were a few years older and questioned things with more passion.

The story started off ok. An outcast girl who comes into powers and even a friend. Ok, yeah, nothing new but it's a trope I enjoy. Then it turns out she's a vampire. Once again, ok, the book is from 2008 and the vampire kids were in full swing. Plus, I still enjoy vampire stories, even if I'm the only one left. Then the Greek mythology starts to take hold and the eyebrows came together in a confused scowl. The Greek Gods were actually vampires? Um, no, this doesn't work for me. The mash up of Greek mythology and vampire lore didn't work. The random Greek creatures showing up and having bizarre jobs, living in zoos, and all the other randomness worked even less.

Moving past the strange Greek roots, the division of vampire society into the good, non-blood drinking Rollens and the evil, blood-drinking Blouts didn't work for me either. We're never given enough information about the Blouts. Why is it such a big deal that they drink blood? Do they kill every time they drink from someone? Other than disagreeing with the Rollens, why are they bad? We're given some pithy story about Blouts not wanting to live with "Normals" or humans but it's not really clear what the deal is with these vampires. In the end, I don't really care about either group and think Fern makes a good move staying with her "normal" family.

This is book one in what I guess was going to be a series that didn't pan out because there is a second book and this book doesn't give us as much closer as one might like for Fern. There are a number of loose ends and dangling story lines that want to be books. I read some reviews of the second book and it sounds like things only get more unraveled and leave the reader hanging with even less information than the first book. Kogler's website looks as though she's not writing seriously anymore and the last book she published had nothing to do with the Otherworldlies. She's not a bad writer and with some practice could be good fun but it doesn't look like she's in it for the long run. 

2 comments:

  1. I think I remember trying to read this awhile back, but I lost interest and never finished--I'm sorry to see you were disappointed, too! It's a shame the book didn't live up to expectations.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  2. Sorry to hear you didn't make it through, but I'm not surprised. This was more a labor of love as my little brother bought it for me. The real bummer for this book is that it had some promising elements but just couldn't get there.

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