The Game But Not As You Know It!
Disclaimer: A big thank you to Bloomsbury publishing who sent me the ARC, and the finished copy upon release.
Otherworld has sat on my shelf for two years; it’s about time it was read and reviewed! Despite it being a middle-grade novel, I really enjoyed the story. It was a different concept to others that I’ve read, despite my constant comparison of it to the Mortality Doctrine Series and Warcross.
Blurb: The company says Otherworld is amazing — like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive — that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true. Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted. And it’s about to change humanity forever. Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.
You all know I won’t get through this review without mentioning the parallels between Harry Potter. It’s a new middle-grade novel. Many clichés were included, but also many twists on the clichés. So I won’t directly reference Harry Potter, but y’all know that when I discuss the clichés and tropes I’m thinking of the famous series.
I thought this book was average. So in my opinion, to best review it, I will be ‘comparing’ it against a book of similar genre and content as I cannot compare it against the likes of Warcross (not middle-grade) or Harry Potter (too highly rated). The only book/ series that I can think of that is the most similar to this novel is The Mortality Doctrine Series by James Dashner. I loved those books, finding the concept original and compelling. That series is the only middle-grade gamer novel I have read before and therefore sets the standards in my rating of this one.
Right off the bat, we start off with a rich kid whose parents are lawyers and he thinks he can get away with anything because of it. He acts up and thinks it’s okay because his family is protected by whatever life his Grandfather’s had to lead. He has a love interest who is a smart girl – smarter than himself, though not in portrayed in a way that makes him look stupid – and a hacker ‘friend’ who owes him a few favours.
As much as I’ve been giving the “golden trio” trope a bit of a hammering, none of the aforementioned characters is in the “golden trio”, they’re totally different people. Totally irrelevant as per the actual story and their adventure took up the majority of the novel.
In my opinion, this book is really a set up for the next one but creates no anticipation or interest to read the next one, aside from actually wanting to know about the other characters, of whom are integral, though shared little page-time in the novel.
The Main Adventure (which could’ve been told in fewer pages):
Despite all of my complaining above, this section of the novel was enjoyable. I really enjoyed how the characters actively make allegations of the Chosen One trope and denyed it in the same sentence. My first thought was that this was probably done in an attempt to not have the trope in the novel. I’m glad it was funny and that the trope was most certainly avoided aside from the mentions.
There were also some positives, like the fact that the entire ‘Main Adventure’ had two settings – one in Otherworld and the other in the real world – and that one of the most over-powered characters, in terms of knowledge (because that’s the only power that matters in these situations) is a girl with a disability! Honestly, Simon would be dead without her.
Themes such as abusive parents and fatal accidents were prevalent but not expanded on, especially not in a way that teaches a middle-grade audience about anything beneficial. I feel that where themes such as obvious domestic abuse are present, the writer should be teaching the reader something in regards to this situation and showing the impact the situation has on a character, not just having it there for a plot twist!
I don’t have much else to say about this novel. It was a quick, fun read but I wouldn’t be recommending it to the next person I see but I enjoyed it, and I will be picking up the sequel out of curiosity.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book a ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars) because it had elements of generic middle-grade fiction – i.e. this is not a unique book – but has an interesting storyline that differs from the usual magic and fantasy elements of a middle-grade novel. It made the three-star category as there was a lot of poking fun at the ‘Chosen One’ trope, which was heavily shunned upon, with supporting evidence.
What were your thoughts on the conclusion of this series? xxx
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With Love Bree xx
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