Monday, October 18, 2010

Review - The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler (3/5 stars)

The OtherworldliesReading level: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:June 17, 2008
ISBN-10: 0060739592
Stand Alone or Series: First in the Otherworldlies series
Source: Swapped through

Rating: 3/5 stars 

 I've had this book on my pile to read for a while.  It sounded interesting and a bit creepy.  It ended up being and okay book and not at all what I thought it was going to be.  This book is definitely more at a middle grade level and is more of a fantasy than anything even remotely creepy.

Fern is different from the other children.  She can do things other kids can't; predict the weather, talk with her dog, and hear other people's conversations from far away.  Different isn't necessarily good though, especially in middle school.  Fern struggles every day to fit in and it is only her twin brother, Sam, that helps her make it through the day.  Then one day Fern disappears from class only to reappear at the beach...well this is something that can no longer be ignored.  One of her fellow classmates tells her that she is an Otherwordly, basically a vampire, and that Fern may be one of the Unusual Eleven (powerful Otherworldlies who have been lost to the race).  Now Fern gets caught up in the struggle between the good and bad vampires.

There were some things I liked about this book and some things I didn't.  I liked Fern's unique and interesting powers and the idea of her being a different type of race of human.  I didn't like that the author then had to call the Otherworldlies a type of vampire; I kind of rolled my eyes and wished that Kogler hadn't gone with a YA vampire standard and that she had kept her characters as a unique race all in their own.

I liked the relationship Fern has with her brothers and her mother; I also enjoyed Fern's family playing such a big role in the story.  It was great to see her mother included in the storyline since in so many of the YA books the kids are separated from their parents.  I loved how supportive Fern's family was of each other.

I did not like the pace of this book.  Things move very slowly in the beginning and it take forever to get to the meat of the story; once you start getting to the really interesting parts (about half way through) you feel like you never learn enough but are just scratching the surface.  To me the story felt a bit shallow, like it never quite got where it wanted to go.  Fern and Sam were interesting but kind of two dimensional; I never really liked either of them or sympathized with them.

I also thought this book was more of a middle grade novel than a young adult novel. Fern's problems are more at a middle grade level; mostly teasing and not getting along with classmates.  She doesn't have a love interest and her interactions with the bad vampires never really get violent or desperate.  The writing style itself is also fairly simplistic and at a lower reading level; there wasn't a ton of description and you never really hear Fern's thoughts to see how she is really feeling about everything.  From the synopsis this sounded like it was going to be a creepy read, but it never feels creepy or even dangerous.

Overall it was an okay story.  Fern is an interesting character, but hard to relate too.  Kogler's concept of vampires is fresh and new; but worked better before she defined them as vampires, she should have left them as a separate race.  The pacing of the book was slow and at times kind of boring; you feel like you are just barely scraping the surface of this world.  I probably won't be reading any more books in this series.  I just wasn't drawn into the writing or story and there are a ton of other young adult books out there that deal with these types of topics in a more interesting way.  If you are a fan of YA and vampires check out Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead or any of the other plethora of vampire YA out there.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge Book List
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

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