December 13, 2010

Review of "Other"

Karen Kincy


Pub. Date: July 28, 2010
Pages: 326

Synopsis: Feathers unfurl from my skin. My plummet curves into a swoop, and I tuck my talons beneath my body. From girl to great horned owl in about a second. Pretty good, huh?

Gwen Williams is like any other modern teenager with one exception: she's a shapeshifter. Never having known her Pooka-spirit father, Gwen must struggle with the wild, wonderful magic inside of her alone—and in secret. While society may tolerate vampires, centaurs, and "Others" like Gwen, there are plenty of folks in Klikamuks, Washington, who don't care for her kind.

Now there's a new werewolf pack in town, and Others are getting killed, including Gwen's dryad friend. The police are doing zilch. In the midst of terrible loss and danger, Gwen meets a cute Japanese fox spirit who's refreshingly comfortable with his Otherness. Can Gwen find the courage to embrace her true self and find the killer—before she becomes the next victim?

After months of waiting to read this book, I finally sucked it up and bought it. "Other" is a paranormal romance, but it goes beyond the basics of vampires and werewolves. Gwen is half pooka and her best friend is a dryad, but there are many other paranormal creatures sprinkled in the premier book of the series. The murder mystery moves the story along with its high death rate and tension mounting. Gwen knows that her otherness won't stay secret for very long. I like how Kincy didn't hold back when it came to the death toll. Some books boast there being lots of danger, but then the main characters only have minor scares here and there; Kincy does not fall into this trap, instead the danger gets closer and closer to Gwen as more others die.

"Other" does a great job at discussing social issues that teenagers face daily. Gwen struggles with accepting her true identity and even hides her otherness from her boyfriend of one year. She also struggles with whether or not she is ready to have sex for the first time. Kincy's portrayal of a first relationship was very honest without being completely brutal. I like how she was able to blend typical teenage issues into a paranormal romance/ murder mystery without slowing down the story or taking the emphasis off the main plot. I feel like a lot of teenagers will be able to relate to Gwen's struggles with her otherness because many teens find them not fitting into the cliques that form during that age. Even if they do fit in, many teens hide parts of themselves from their friends and other people their age for fear of being thought of as a freak or seen as different; this is exactly what Gwen does every day.

I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys paranormal mysteries or is looking for a quick read. I think people who enjoyed "The Body Finder" will also really like "Other". There are already two more follow up books in the works. "Bloodborn", the second book in the series, will be coming out next fall. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for it!

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