OtherboundWritten by Corinne Duyvis
(Amulet Books - 6/17/2014)Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC (387 pages)
Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.
She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.
Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious.
All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me from the author or publisher (NetGalley), free of charge, with the understanding that my intention is to read it and provide feedback in the form of an honest review. I am not compensated in any way in exchange for positive reviews, and I don’t let anything other than the book's contents affect my opinions and review.
There is a lot going on in Otherbound, and I really have to admire Duyvis’s ambition — especially considering it’s a debut novel. I was originally drawn to this book because of the dual-life aspect (we all know I’m a fan of that sort of alternate reality thing), so I was surprised to realize that it carried much more of a fantasy story than a science fiction one. But beyond the genre blending and bending, this debut almost reads like a poster-child for diversity.
The question is: how well was this accomplished?
If one just read the first 20% of Otherbound, they might be inclined to think that Duyvis just had an idea for a novel and said to herself, “Okay, let’s see how many instances of diversity I can cram into this book!” In fact, I was a little worried that this was the case, until I continued reading further. And again, I have to say: I really admire her ambition here.
I was absolutely delighted to discover such a wealth of diversity in terms of the people, cultures, and situations in this novel. In Otherbound, you will encounter:
- A main character who is Hispanic (OMG how RARE is this?!)
- A main character whose family speaks multiple languages
- A main character with a prosthetic limb
- A main character with an epilepsy diagnosis, and all of the medications, side effects, and doctor visits that go along with it
- A main character who is missing a tongue — and all of the struggles that come along with that (like not being able to speak, or eat well, etc.)
- A main character whose main method of communication is sign language
- A main character whose ethnicity means she is treated as lower class
- A main character who is bisexual
- A character who has to avoid physical injury at all costs, and the restrictions that come along with that
Look, I can’t even list everything because I just want you to read the book instead. My point is that this book does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into a wide variety of different circumstances, experiencing what it is like to live with a disability or limitation of some sort. Fantastic job here.
As for the rest of the book — you know: the plot and stuff? It was definitely intriguing. I had a hard time deciding whether to call this fantasy or sci-fi because there is magic in Amara’s world, but from Nolan’s perspective, it seems much more sci-fi. I enjoyed the concepts of control, morality, duty/obligation, and relationship that were explored in this book.
I think that if there were a sequel or a companion novel to Otherbound, I would be all over it, because there is definitely more to discover here. That being said, since this appears to be a standalone, I was disappointed to get to the end and discover that a few of my burning questions were never answered. All in all, this was an intriguing — if a bit slow — read. I’d definitely recommend it, especially for fans of fantasy or genre-blends.