Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1031
Otherborn
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
At a time when young adult fiction is overrun with dystopian themes that are often only mediocre at best, Otherborn is kind of remarkable, especially for a debut author. I’m a big fan of dystopian works and can say I even enjoy some of the less-than-stellar attempts but this one introduces some really fresh concepts.

Imagine a world in which dreaming is a thing of the past. Actually, you probably wouldn’t be able to imagine it if such a world existed because, after all, imagination and dreams are interwoven with each other, aren’t they? Most people live in poverty, barely managing to survive through whatever means possible while the ruling class thrives, and creating anything new is an invitation to disaster . Then a girl named London and her friends begin to dream and they discover that things are not at all as they seem—or as they’ve been led to believe.

London is a character with many facets, at turns strong and childish, thoughtful and selfish, intelligent and obtuse, driven and obsessed. In other words, she’s a teenager with signs of maturity as well as self-absorption and all of that makes her very appealing but, at the same time, frequently annoying. Other characters did not make much of an impression on me but I didn’t dislike them.

When it comes to worldbuilding, Ms. Silver has some good ideas but we don’t learn enough in this first of a series to become comfortable with the setting and too many variables come into play. I found myself often pulled out of the story while I tried to really understand what was going on and, while that can be a forceful encouragement to keep reading, I actually found it distracting at times. The creation of an imaginary world is, to my way of thinking, critical to the success of any dystopian story and the author that can bring the reader into that world without answering all possible questions is a very talented writer. I don’t want to know everything in the first book of a series but this one left me a little too puzzled.

Otherborn offers a lot of promise and delivers on much of it despite its shortcomings. Anna Silver is an author I’m glad to have “discovered” and I’ll want to hear more from her, especially about London and her life.
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