29 October 2012
The Other Normals
by Ned Vizzini
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: September 25th 2012
Pages: 400 (hardcover)
Source: finished copy from publisher
Author's website | GoodReads
Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin, so when his parents ship him off to summer camp Perry is sure he’s in for the worst summer of his life.
Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest together, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero.Do you have a dream world in your head? A world where everything would go they way you wanted it to go and nothing would ever be less than perfect? A world so wonderful that you spend every waking moment thinking and obsessing over what your life would be like if you could, even just for a day, live in it? Peregrine "Perry" Eckert would answer yes to every question. Lucky (and unlucky) for him, he got what he wanted- and more.
Perry Eckert has a pretty pseudo-weird life. His parents got divorced and married their own divorce lawyers, his brother is slipping further and further into alcohol addiction, he is a social outcast and spends all of his time creating characters for the role-playing game Creatures & Caverns because he can't even find anyone to actually play with. When he finally does find someone who would willingly play C&C with him, a fellow RPG fanatic named Sam, he skips almost all of his classes and plays C&C 24/7. He eventually got caught and his parents send him to a summer camp called Camp Whisiska Lake to adjust to normal society, make decent friends, meet a girl, and have ~the best summer of his teenage life~.
And in trendy young adult fashion, Perry's first day in camp starts off with a fist fight. When he ends up at the nurse's office, he meets Mortin Enaw, the author of the manual for Creatures and Caverns. When Perry finds out that the RPG world he has been obsessing over was more than a fat nerd's Creatures & Caverns guidebook masterpiece, he forgets everything else, runs after the strange creature and is suddenly whisked into the world of The Other Normals. Perry is thrilled, but everyone else isn't because the whole world is in danger of collapse because the princess Ophisa has been captured. In order to get her back, he needs to go back to his own world and kiss a girl named Anna.
One of the best things about this book is it's deadpan and honest humour. Most of the humour is derived from Perry's interaction with other characters and his approach to various situations. Most of his logic is taken from the video game handbooks and comic books he read over the years and could relate them to any situation, no matter how dangerous. He is without a doubt one of the most geeky and socially awkward characters out there and Ned Vizzini knew how to shape him into a character that we'd love. It was nice seeing Perry not completely shedding off his true geek skin but growing up and maturing nonetheless.
I have a soft spot for Ned Vizzini. I read and loved his book; It's Kind of a Funny Story. That being said, I was so excited to read this book and dived right in. I immersed myself into the story and finished it in lightning speed, but I did not feel that signature Vizzini spark. I loved the initial concept of it and could relate to Perry in a multitude of aspects, being a huge RPG geek myself, but I could not ignore the fact that there was nothing special about the book at all. It had it's good and bad sides, but there was nothing spectacular enough for me to really truly love it.
The plot and world-building for The Other Normals was unique and imaginitive, but it was also pretty sketchy and filled with holes. There are sections that feel like they went on much longer than they should have, and the ending feels abruptly tied up. The characters were cliche and one-dimensional, too. I don't think that they're much of a problem though. A book like this isn't about serious business and technical stuff. The Other Normals a fun, light, and comical read. The fast pace and quick-witted dialogue makes it perfect for is perfect for readers looking for something refreshing and non-serious.
THE NUB AND GIST: 3 stars
Tanja - Tanychy said on October 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM
That's the worst thing, when you expect too much and then you get an average book. It was not bad but not so awesome as you hoped to be. Sometimes is better to expect less. I really like the idea of this story and maybe I'll read it if I find some time. :)
Giselle said on October 29, 2012 at 8:47 PM
Huh. This sounds very different and definitely imaginative. Seems like the author should have spent more time on building a world without grey areas or holes, but it sounds pretty good, nonetheless. I'm also big on RPGs - though I haven't played in a while, I used to be addicted to Final Fantasy >.< Great review!
Precious said on October 30, 2012 at 1:54 AM
Hi there! Thanks for visiting! <3 I've heard about this but I've never actually read a review before...But oh I can imagine the kind of magic and charm in entering another world, especially a world about a game you've been obsessing over. I like what you said about the world-building being imaginative. I <3 that and I think I can overlook its holes. But what I can't overlook are the cliche characters. Great honest review!
Alison Can Read said on October 31, 2012 at 7:03 AM
I've been getting so so reviews of this one. it sounds a little campy, but enticing as well.
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