I received this book for free from Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Abrams on 2014
Genres: fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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Nolan doesn't see darkness when he closes his eyes. Instead, he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl living in a different world. Nolan’s life in his small Arizona town is full of history tests, family tension, and laundry; his parents think he has epilepsy, judging from his frequent blackouts. Amara’s world is full of magic and danger--she’s a mute servant girl who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess. Nolan is only an observer in Amara's world--until he learns to control her. At first, Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. But to keep the princess--and themselves--alive, they'll have to work together and discover the truth behind their connection. A fascinating premise, clearly and compellingly written and imagined by a startlingly original debut writer.
I’m just going to come right out and say that I didn’t like this book. And I hate to say that because there are a lot of great things about this book starting with the premise and continuing with all of the great minority representation throughout the book but, unfortunately, the story just wasn’t for me. I felt confused at times, disconnected with the characters, and uninterested. I don’t think everyone will feel like this, I think there will be a lot of support for this book and I’m glad about that. I just won’t be one of the people flailing for it on release day.
Nolan is a teenager who lives in our world, in our time. Everything about his life and his family is what we think of as typical, except that when he closes his eyes, he sees Amara’s world. He sees what she sees, feels what she feels, and knows what she knows. But Amara doesn’t know he’s there. In Amara’s world, there is magic and princesses and battles and danger. Amara is a mage who is on the run with a cursed princess of a fallen kingdom. Amara has the power to heal herself and uses her power to help keep the princess alive. Her life is devoted to serving her princess and she is tortured often by the man in charge of keeping the princess alive. Because she can heal, he punishes her instead of the princess. Nolan can feel it too. He has convinced his parents and doctors that his episodes are due to epilepsy because sharing what they really are would make them think he’s crazy. As the story progresses, we learn more about why Nolan and Amara are connected, more about the magic in Amara’s world, about the princess and why everyone is working to keep her alive, and how Nolan and Amara can work together to save her world.
A lot of times when I don’t like a book there are a lot of things I can talk about. For this one, I have just a couple of issues that I want to share briefly. I don’t want to sway anyone too much with this review because I still think people should read this one if they’re interested in it and the premise. I really think this will be a book that other people will like even though I didn’t. And I don’t want to turn anyone off who’s especially excited for this one.
Just so you can understand my rating, here are the things I wasn’t a huge fan of in this book. First, I had a really hard time connecting with either character. This is hugely personal and probably the thing that affects how I feel about a book the most. If I don’t connect with a character I will probably not end up enjoying a book. For me, even with two main characters, I didn’t really care about either of them. I wanted Nolan to deal with his visions and treat his family like they deserved to know what was going on and like they were important to him. I wanted Amara to have an opinion. About anything. I felt like so much of what she did was based on duty. Even when she was given a choice, I felt like she only did what she did because other people wanted it. I wanted to feel like she had a strong feeling about something or had an idea of her own. I got frustrated when I didn’t get that. Secondly, there were times during the book where I was just confused about what was going on. This may have been directly related to my first issue and not paying enough attention, but there was so much to keep track of in this book that sometimes it was really hard and I forgot who was good or bad and what curse was doing what and who was working with whom and what person was being blackmailed and in which world and everything else. It was a very ambitious story and I appreciate everything that went into creating Amara’s world, sometimes I just wished that maybe it had been a little smaller and more focused.
I feel bad writing this review because I really wanted to like this book. But in the end, I just didn’t. And I need to make it clear that it’s not because this is a “bad” book or is poorly written or edited or anything like that, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t for me. I couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot didn’t grab me like I had hoped. But I also think this will be a book that a lot of people will really like. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, it just wasn’t for me. If this book sounds like something that would interest you, I would still suggest you give it a try.