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. From Goodreads
When I first heard of Otherbound, I thought it sounded awesome. A guy who see's through another girl's eyes, a girl from another world, every time he closes his eyes? How can that not be an incredible book?! Sadly, I was really disappointed by Otherbound.
At first, I was really excited by Otherbound, really intrigued by the plot. How was it that Nolan would be transported to Amara's body whenever he closed his eyes? Originally, I misunderstood and thought it was just when he slept, but it's whenever he closes his eyes - a single blink, and he's there, until his eyes are open again. What was happening? Why? And why was there this curse on Princess Cilla that meant she could die if she shed a single drop of blood? And how was it that Amara was able to save her, take the curse onto herself by covering herself in Cilla's blood, and healing from the fatal injuries the curse damaged her body with? So original, so fascinating! At first, I couldn't put the book down.
But once we have these questions... that's all we have for a good long while. The story stagnates; very little highs or lows, the plot seeming an almost steady line until about a quarter of the way from the end, when things finally get interesting. Things do happen, it isn't that the story doesn't change and everything stays the same - risks are taken, decisions are made, things, in their way, move forward - but for me, the mood stayed at the same level. I think part of the problem was that I really didn't care one way or the other for most of the characters. Nolan, Amara, Cilla... I just couldn't get emotionally attached to them or the story. It was a good hard slog to get through the book, taking me a week to read, because after the initial intrigue, I lost all interest. Until that last quarter.
And that last quarter really was awesome! But so many good things happen in such a short space of time - answers, action, danger, awesomeness - and then it's over. Done. Finished. And it looks like this is just a stand alone. I thought it must have been the beginning of a series, and most of it was just developing the story, in which case I could understand it being slow, but to finish and that be the end? Though, if there was a sequel on it's way, I'm not sure if the last quarter would have been enough to make it pick it up. I was left feeling really let down.
I picked Otherbound up this month for LGBT+ April, but the LGBTQ element wasn't what I thought. I though there might be some trans themes going on, because of Nolan, a guy, being in Amara's female body half the time. Unless I'm misremembering, I don't think there is a single instance where it's discussed, even when Nolan learns to control Amara's body, rather than just being an observer. The LGBTQ element takes the form of Amara's sexuality; she's bisexual, and she's has feelings for Cilla. Despite the role of servant and protector of Cilla she has, she has had relationships with both genders before her attraction to Cilla becomes anything remotely serious, but sexuality isn't really a major theme in this book. She just happens to be attracted to both genders. There's too much going on in her head, what with Nolan, and Cilla and her curse, to really think much about sexuality, so I have no idea whether this is a world where you're accepted whatever your sexuality or not. The only real way it comes up is that her feelings for Cilla complicate things. With regards to Nolan, it's unclear whether he too is bisexual or not. He cares about the people Amara cares about, because he feels what she feels, yet he is always aware that they are her feelings. But in his own way, he cares himself, especially when terrible things happen. So whether this is because they are people he has known for so many years due to the situation he finds himself in, or because he can feel Amara's feelings, I'm not sure. It's not really made very clear. And it's only now, as I write this, that I realise there are certain questions regarding such things that aren't answered - or at least not clearly enough for me to understand, if they are. Again, I think I'm only realising this now because I simply didn't care one way or the other while reading, sadly.
I do think there are a lot of people who will really enjoy Otherbound. There is enough going on to keep you intrigued and turning the pages, and I'm sure people will get attached the characters though I couldn't. It's not an awful story, it's just not one that worked for me, sadly. Do check out some other reviews before deciding whether or not to read Otherbound, don't base your decision on my review alone.
Thank you to Abrams for the proof copy.
Published: 17th June 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Corrine Duyvis' Website