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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Kogler, Jennifer Anne: The Otherworldies

  Amazon  

4 stars

Twelve-year-old Fern McAllister is weird enough that she's the regular target of bullies at her over-strict private school, St. Gregory's. Unlike her twin brother and faithful confidante Sam, Fern is pale-eyed and unusually sensitive to sunlight: her skin can blister after just a few minutes of exposure. And it doesn't help that she talks to her dog and climbs trees to escape the other students during recess. As it turns out, Fern is stranger than even her tormenters' can have imagined. Early in Jennifer Anne Kogler's The Otherworldies, Fern finds herself teleporting involuntarily out of a boring English class to a beach miles away. It's the first bizarre event in a long series of them, and the start of Fern's education into her true nature. Fern is, as the book's title suggests, an "Otherworldy"--or, as the less politically correct among us would have it, a vampire.

Readers will recognize a familiar motif in Kogler's plot: an underdog protagonist who does not quite belong in their current surroundings (think Oedipus or Paris of Troy or Harry Potter) comes to discover that he or she is heir to a kingdom or possesses extraordinary powers. The plot is appealing because we want the underdog to prevail. We are certainly rooting for Fern in the early chapters of Kogler's book, when she is at the mercy of her tween persecutors. When Fern comes more fully into her powers and the story shifts from the familiar drama of middle school to the secret halls of the Vampire Alliance Headquarters, things become less interesting and the story drags. Real human drama gives way to a litany of the strange beasties and other things that mortals are unaware exist: centaurs and cyclopes and bushes that can be used for remote eavesdropping.

In the alternative universe Kogler creates, vampires exist alongside but hidden from the mortal world. But their community is riven by a schism between good and evil branches--a fight in which Fern will have an important role to play. (Cf. the division between good wizards and Death Eaters in the Harry Potter books.) The vamps are descendants of Zeus, and Kogler weaves Greek mythology through her story to a degree. The universe of the book is interesting enough on paper, but it doesn't appeal or feel as real as, say, the Potter-verse or the world created by Joss Whedon for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is not, that is, a place that I'm itching to get back to. But I did enjoy Kogler's story when Fern was wrestling more with her strangeness. I would that the mystery of her otherness had not been resolved quite so quickly.

Comments

1.

I've been reading quite a few vampire stories lately, but nothing makes me as happy as the Buffyverse;-)

Thanks for the review though, I might pick this one up sometime, but I probably won't hurry to it.

2.

Nothing beats the Buffyverse. I do lament that it got so dark at the end, but I suppose it had to. Speaking of which, I've ordered in secret a graphic novel o' Buffy that apparently picks up where the series ended. We shall see....

3.

In a word, "Wow!" From your description, the Otherworldies sounds like an awesome book on so many levels. First of all i wish i could transport myself away from tidium with such ease at 12 or any other age for that matter. And to be that young, and a vampire? the pressure must be unbearable. Thank you so much for bringing this book to my attention. I can't wait to get a copy.

4.

Thanks for your nice comment, Marigold! I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

5.

I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I'd be curious to read that one. Let me know how it is. Thanks!

6.

I haven't yet read a graphic novel, but I'm interested enough in this one :) I officially bought it as a surprise for Rebecca, but that doesn't mean I can't read it....

7.

Its a great book, Althought i have to wounder what happen to the other 10 Otherworldies. Although i wouldnt mind being one thats for sure lol.

8.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a sequel, so you may find out what happens to them :)

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