I came into Every Other Day expecting an angsty teen paranormal with dramatic love scenes and gloomy prose. Instead, I got a breezy urban fantasy with upbeat narration and a shameless case of instalove. That certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’ll take it.
This book started off fairly strong, and I was immediately hooked into the narrative by Kali’s cheeky tone of voice. As far as narrating protagonists go, I thought Kali was down to earth, had an engaging personality, and interacted realistically with her peers. I wouldn’t say she was particularly well-rounded, though. In general, I think the characters Jennifer Lynn Barnes portrayed in this book lacked depth.
The setting presented in Every Other Day was interesting and unique, though I think maybe it lacked a bit of explanation. Similarly to Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, humans and paranormal creatures live side by side under a somewhat uneasy truce with specific government involvement. Beyond that, though, Barnes left more questions unanswered than I would have liked.
But on to the meat of the story, which can be described in a single sentence: Kali has a chupacabra inside her named Zev.
If that isn’t an attention-grabbing (and sketchy) conflict, I don’t know what is.
So, because of Kali’s every-other-day condition, she’s on a bit of a time crunch to get said chupacabra out of her body before it kills her. Together with a some newly-acquired friends from school, Kali goes off to save her own life, encounters quite a few paranormal creatures, and uncovers a group of scientists with suspicious motives.
But then it turns out that Kali and Zev are soulmates, they’re destined to be together, they have a unique connection, yadda yadda. Nine times out of ten, soulmate status is really just code for “BOOM, instalove.” I mean, if two characters have some sort of supernatural bond, who cares about forming a lasting relationship or getting to know each other? Trivial stuff, really. Quite pointless.
Other than the regrettable instalove, I did enjoy the ending. Barnes left Every Other Day open-ended and subject to interpretation. Those are always my favorite kind of final scenes, especially in a standalone that has no sequels planned. That way it’s like I’m merely experiencing a slice of the characters’ lives; I personally think it keeps things interesting.
Though Every Other Day was far from being perfect, I found it to be a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy. Jennifer Lynn Barnes probably could have fixed a lot of the issues I found here, but as is, I think this is still a good book.
An interesting premise with a strong heroine combine for a fast-paced, entertaining read. But blunt dialogue and choppy paragraphs create an unwelcome distraction that takes away from an otherwise enjoyable read.
It took me a few chapters to get used to Barnes' writing style. The dialogue is very blunt and straight-forward, as if each character says exactly what they're thinking without any type of filter. Though refreshing, it created quite a jarring experience to have a character say exactly what they mean, without then commenting on how what they said wasn't the whole truth, or having the rest of their thoughts to sort through. It's direct and gets straight to the point, without much filler. This made it hard for me to connect to any of the characters, as emotionally, they came across quite flat. So while I enjoyed watching Kali struggle with what she is, what it would mean to care about someone and what her future had in store, I never truly cared if she found the answers she was looking for.
That being said, Kali is a great heroine to read about. She's physically tough as nails (on the days she's not human) but she's also emotionally strong. Having just uncovered the horrifyingly disturbing secrets to her past, Kali takes a minute to digest the information, and moves on with her plans - she comments on wanting to curl up into a ball of hurt, but she's stronger then that and she doesn't let it leave her a sobbing mess on the floor. She has a bit of a heroine complex, and feels the need to save everyone - even if it might mean sacrificing herself. I couldn't understand her relationship with her father - he was just too oblivious (convenient absentee parent syndrome?) - and I wish we had seen more of her relationship with her mother; it would have better explained some things that happened near the end.
I adored Skylar in all of her eccentricities. She was quirky and super observant (though her special ability might have played a hand in that!) and her obnoxiousness was endearing. Luckily I half-guessed about her role in the plot, otherwise I would have been devastated. Her back-and-forth banter with Bethany was hilarious, and she gave off the annoyingly-adorable younger sister vibe. Bethany is a character I'm still on the fence about. She came off as a selfish popular girl at first, but quickly showed that it was all an act. From her backstory I got some understanding about the walls she puts up to keep others at arms length, but I never really understood her (or her motivations) as I had a hard time connecting to her. And lastly, Zev. I'm still not sure what Zev is to Kali, but I get the feeling that he's going to be a possible love interest. His presence throughout the book is scattered and random, and his connection to Kali is one I still don't understand. Other then what he is, I couldn't tell you a thing about Zev, and I haven't decided if his mysteriousness is intriguing or annoying. I do know that all the conversations he had with Kali should have been to better prepare her or to provide her with information, rather then to warn her against doing something dangerous - it got to be quite tedious to have him show up only to warn her against something she already had her mind made up about.
The world building was interesting, but poorly done. I'm so confused about how the preternaturals came into being, why humans would ever let them roam free in the middle of a populated area, and why a society that can believe in hellhounds or basilisks can't believe in psychics or vampires. And it might just be me, but I almost got the feeling that everyone was happy to live in ignorance of these preternaturals' and the threat they imposed on the general public's safety. It didn't help that most of the explanation for preternaturals came from an info-dump towards the end of the book. That being said, I did enjoy the scientific approach to the paranormal, citing Darwin as the person responsible for their discovery, and the amount of preternaturals that Kali came into contact with were as numerous as they were varied.
While I found Every Other Day to be a refreshing and entertaining spin on the slightly over-done world of the paranormal, it wasn't without its flaws. The fluff-less dialogue, emotionally-flat characters and poor world building left me with too many unanswered questions in a world I couldn't envision, with characters I (mostly) didn't care about.