Friday, May 2, 2014

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Expected publication date:  June 17, 2014

Description (taken from Corinne Duyvis' website):
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.

Nolan spends his life in two very different worlds.  He is an average teenager with a limb amputation  who's also known for having crazy seizures.  And these seizures prevent him from having a normal life in his world  But he doesn't really have seizures; that's just how his world explains his issue.  Every time he closes his eyes, he enters a fantasy world through Amara's eyes.  But he's only ever been able to watch the pain she endures.  That is until he starts a new medication.  He begins to control Amara and people start paying attention after this event.

Amara has spent her life as a servant girl (whose tongue was cut out) protecting the fugitive princess from a terrible curse.  Anytime Cilla, the princess, bleeds, the ground tries to kill her; think of live grass/vines consuming you.  Since Amara has the beginnings of a mage's powers: the ability to heal, she deflects the curse from Cilla and endures unthinkable pain.  But during a similar event, Amara blacks out and finds she's not in control of her own body.  There's been a bystander this whole time who's ready to take control: Nolan.  But is he a friend or a foe?  Will he respect Amara's wishes even though he has all of the power?

This book is very unique in that it pulls one person from his world to another person's world.  It's kind of like you're following two very different timelines.  And as things begin to unravel, we begin to understand the term traveler, what Nolan is.  What I love about this book is seeing a messed up teenager that we can relate to trying to live his life and protect those we knows including Amara.  Even though Amara resents him and he has the choice of living Amara's life the way he wants to, he still tries to think of Amara's best interests and protect her.  What I didn't really enjoy is nothing's ever really explained.  We can only accept the travelers concept at face value and the epic climax is just a climax.  I want that big ah-ha moment where I suddenly understand why things had to happen the way they did instead of just accepting things because the book tells me to.  And I think this book tried a little too hard to focus on minority groups by pulling in all minority groups and mixing it together (e.g. limb differences, racial minorities, LGBT, etc); I think it would have been better if this book had only focused on one and drawn that out instead of throwing everything into the pile (it's just an opinion, I'm sure others feel differently and loved this aspect).

An awesome world-building book that let's you experience normal life through a not-so-normal teenager and the fantasy life of a servant.  Pick it up if the story interests you.  Plus, it's a standalone novel which makes it even better!

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a review copy.

A nice qualifier at the end (only my opinion - nothing more):
I feel like I have to explain my opinion from the review, but it's not part of the review.  So read at your own risk...  Here's why I hated the moj-poj of minority differences: people only fixate on one difference and dismiss the others.  This is one of a rare type of books: the main character has a limb difference.  Do you know how hard it is to live with a limb difference?  And then he's also Hispanic; I really wish we had the opportunity to see some Spanish words in this book (and Nolan's thoughts could translate it afterwards for all of the non-Spanish speakers).  But instead, people are focusing on the LGBT portion because that has a bigger media frenzy (and might affect more people).  Looking at the Goodreads shelves, this book is shelved on quite a few LGBT shelves, but where's the Limb Difference shelf or the Hispanic/Latino shelf?  I guess to me, it's easier to celebrate differences by seeing them in-depth one at a time.  And this book didn't do it for me; it felt like it tried too hard.

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