Sunday, 14 February 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Other by Karen Kincy

Author: Karen Kincy
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 13th January 2017

Book Description:
Shapeshifting can be a beautiful and deadly secret. Gwen craves the forbidden rush of leaping from her bedroom window and transforming into an owl, but she could lose it all if anyone caught her. Most Americans don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Others. In the small town of Klikamuks, Washington, coming out as a person with paranormal abilities means staring down the barrel of a shotgun. Gwen hasn’t even told the truth to her boyfriend, Zack, who she hopes will be the boy to take her virginity.

When a pack of werewolves claims the national forest behind Gwen’s house as their territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate—into murder. Prejudice slows the police investigation. It doesn’t take Gwen long to realize a serial killer is targeting Others. On the hunt for clues, she meets Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to embrace her shapeshifting. Can she find the killer before he finds her, or will her secrets be the death of her?

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Other has all the hallmarks and potential of being a great read, but however great the idea was, unfortunately the execution fell flat for me. Themes of prejudice, stereotype and not being accepted for who you are is reminiscent from start to finish, and while I loved exploring the themes and the world of fantastical creatures that inhabit this small town, the characterisation fell short and did not do justice to the story.

Gwen is an 'Other', a teenage girl who is half pooka and half human. She keeps her shape-shifting a secret from the world in fear of being ostracised. Apart from her family and her best friend, Chloe, who too is an Other, no one knows what Gwen truly is, not even her boyfriend of over one year. Living in a world where people are not-so-welcoming towards supernatural beings, Gwen is often left feeling isolated and restricted, almost trapped inside her own body. As if living with this secret isn't hard enough, life becomes more complicated when a serial killer starts targeting Others.

The story took a while to lift off, and for a large portion of the book, we have to deal with Gwen's dilemma of having to keep her boyfriend, Zack, in the dark about her true identity. Due to Zack's strict religious background and ideologies about Others it's understandable why Gwen is in fear of telling him the truth. but her decisions sometimes just didn't make any sense whatsoever. She has refrained from sleeping with Zack for the longest time due to the fact that she wanted to be honest with him about her identity before moving to the next level in their relationship, but then she makes a move that completely eradicates her initial intention. Despite his reservations about Others, Zack is portrayed as an understanding and caring boyfriend and a likeable character, and his reaction to Gwen following their intimate moment was authentic as it came as a huge shock to him (though I don't know how he misconstrued her when she stated she was Other) having been dating Gwen for over a year and not knowing something so vital about her. I think Gwen drifting away from him and jumping track over to the Tavian express was a bad move on her part. Tavian was a likeable character, but their relationship felt forced. I wasn't a fan of this direction. Apart from the obvious thing they had in common, there was no chemistry between them. I also found the interaction between the characters to be overly formal at times, and it became hard to be convinced or persuaded by the authenticity of their portrayal.

There was a real story here with a raving lunatic going around killing Others, which I really wanted to indulge in and get to the bottom of, but that story arc was overshadowed by Gwen's whining about her failing love life when her actual life was on the line. There were some really deep topics and issues that needed to be explored as they were mentioned but they just fizzled out o the story or were pushed to the background in favour of issues that were less interesting and at times intolerable. The ingredients were there, but they weren't assembled in an effective manner.

It was an okay read, but I didn't particularly enjoy it as I should have.


Award: Bronze
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Source: Own copy

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