I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet Books on June 17th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
When I heard about Otherbound, it instantly went on my must-read list. I mean, it’s a diverse as all hell standalone fantasy book by a Dutch author. Uhhh, yeah, I was all kinds of down for this. Getting the review request made my day. And the book itself? Definitely enjoyable.
I suppose where this book is strongest is in it’s intensely unique story. I honestly have never read anything like it. Duyvis must have some pretty awesome plot bunnies as pets. So Nolan is a teenage amputee of Spanish heritage living in contemporary Arizona. Every time he closes his eyes, he gets transported into the mind of Amara, a mute servant girl on the run with the lost princess in a fantasy world. I mean. Whoa. The story has such depth and such intrigue, it’s extremely easy to get absorbed. I just had to know who, what, why, how.
I really want to praise the many different ways that this book showcases diversity. Disabilities, sexuality, ethnicity, it’s ALL there, and it’s seriously impressive. It’s done with so much care, showing that we’re all equal human beings. I particularly liked reading from Amara’s perspective as a mute character. That was so new to me, and I loved how it involved sign language and everything. It was just so so good.
The story really kept me on my toes. Obviously, there’s quite a lot of mystery going on here – why on earth is Nolan connected to Amara? Amara’s life in the fantasy world is also infinitely more complex than Nolan’s. I really like the world – that which we saw of it. There are clear influences of the Netherlands (I will never stop loling over the villain being named Ruudde), which I just loved to see. I do wish the ARC copy had the map of the world – but this will be in finished copies, so no worries for you guys. In any case, Amara has quite the big adventure going around the Dunelands, protecting the princess, Cilla, and slowly coming to terms with her shared identity with Nolan. They start to team up, out of necessity, and both of them grow stronger over the course of the novel.
What makes me really sad is that there is an LGBT romance in this book and I don’t ship it. I was confused at first, because I had heard it was LGBT, but Amara is originally in a heterosexual relationship. Okay, well that ends, and then suddenly she appears to have feelings for Cilla. I just didn’t get it. She clearly tried to repress certain feelings she had for Cilla beforehand, but it didn’t seem like love. So when it actually became prominent in the story I didn’t buy it for a second. I didn’t ship it. I was just like, “…okay.” I didn’t dislike it either. But I think it also bothered me how close her two relationships were together – and she didn’t seem to spare her past lover any thought anymore. It made her a bit unsympathetic to me. I just didn’t get the feels. Sorry 🙁
I think the biggest weakness to talk about is that I think Otherbound tries to just do too much in one book and thus doesn’t have the great impact it could have otherwise had on me. I do deeply respect the idea of just having a standalone fantasy novel – I mean, the trilogy thing seems kind of like a sell out most of the time. But Otherbound would definitely have benefited from more space. The POV characters could have had more depth of personality and character… the romance could have given me more feels… the world could have blown me away more… the ending could have been paced and clearer. I guess I’m coming to terms with the fact that most fantasies just do need to be a series.
Summing Up:Though it felt a bit rushed, I do think Otherbound is a great debut for Corinne Duyvis. I’ve never read a story like this, and it really kept me on my toes – keeping me engaged and surprised. Though I wish I felt more for this romance, I have to give the story props for all its efforts to promote diversity. I’ll be keeping an eye on this author, because if this is her debut, I can tell she’ll only get better with time.
GIF it to me straight!
Thumbs up for diversity!