By Nina Berry
December 31, 2013
Ages 12 and up
OTHERSPHERE by Nina Berry is a stellar conclusion to one of the handful of paranormal romance trilogies I’ve read lately. I’ll be honest, paranormal romance has most worn out its welcome for me, but the Otherkin series is one of the (very few) exceptions I will make.
I love this series. LOVE IT. I’ll admit, I have a thing for shape-shifters, and no shape-shifting series has quite grabbed me like this one has – not since I finished the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck almost two years ago. (Wow, has it really be that long?) You may be noticing a trend here. Shape-shifting. Tigers… Hmm, apparently there is a reason why, if I loved Tiger’s Curse so much, that I would also love this series about – you guessed it – a tiger shape-shifting teen named Desdemona (“Dez”).
– A strong cast of characters. Dez starts off as a misfit teen with a back-brace in book one, but she finishes up the series the strongest of all the characters. Each character has their own personality (based on their animal shifting abilities) and their individual background stories become as much a part of the story as Dez’s. There is not a stronger group of mismatched friends in any YA series ou there. Warning: your heart will be broken more than once.
– Great underlying messages. At the front is the message of self-esteem and self-confidence. Watching Dez overcome her weaknesses as well as her ability to unite people from different backgrounds should be applauded. Then there is the environmental message, which is largely addressed in book three. A unique plot point about endangered species speak loud and clear, as well as gives a Narnia-esque feel to the final battle. It is epic and will make event the most jaded “non-environmentalist” think. Also touched apon are messages on religion and sexuality. With so many messages in one series, you may worry that the author is over-preaching on her beliefs, but really, the topics included in these books only make the story stronger. I never once thought that the author was “preaching” rather than telling a very important story – with magic and animals…
– The school. The Othersphere. The science elements combined with a magical world… This story was so well-structured. I love it when even the magic is so perfectly explained. And mixing science with magic? Guys, you will have to read it to believe it, because I know it’s impossible otherwise.
– The pacing of this novel is spot-on. Just like with Othermoon, OTHERSPHERE dives right into the story, with some recapping interwoven with the forward movement of the plot. Dez is jumping forward between her feelings for the two brothers, Caleb and Lazar. Cue the drama. Though her feelings are always on her mind, sometimes at the most inconvenient moments (but hey, she’s a teen), the more important elements of the story – dealing with Ximon, finding out about Dez’s mother, etc. – do not suffer as a result. There is more (yes, more!) magic, action and adventure than in the previous books and the world building takes a definite step up.
– One of my absolute favorite parts of the book was when Dez, Caleb, Lazar and London take a trip into Othersphere. I want to see that world for myself, even with all of its horrors! It is a world that sounds as beautiful as it is deadly. Plus, the connection that Nina Berry makes between the Othersphere and the extinct and endangered species from our world was brilliant, simply brilliant.
– That dreaded love triangle. But it is short-living, not really poking its ugly little head until OTHERSHPERE (book 3). The triangle is also the result of misunderstandings and melodramatic conflict. You always know who she’s going to end up with anyway.
– The world-building is slightly lacking early-on in the series. Except for the school. The school is awesome from the very first page it’s mentioned. Book three improved greatly upon this point in leaps and bounds, so I guess it not really a “con” with regard to OTHERSPHERE.
If you love shape-shifter stories – as well as books about parallel universes – you really should consider picking this one up today. All books have now been released, so it’s a the perfect pick for a binge reading weekend!
You might also want to read my review of book one to learn more about why I love the Otherkin trilogy.