Date of Publication: June 17 2014
Source: Library Ebook
Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.
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.
I'm shocked that Otherbound ended up being a standalone. I suppose that's what you get when you attempt to read books blind of any actual information on said book. What this meant however is that, by the end, I had to reevaluate my thoughts of the story as a whole.
Otherbound drew me in from the very beginning. It's the story of Nolan and Amara who are from two very different worlds and it's about how their lives intersect. Nolan is living two lives. Every time he blinks, he is thrown into Amara's world as a presence inside her head. Amara doesn't know Nolan is there, and her life is more of a fantasy story: she is on the run with a princess and a mage, and she's responsible for protecting the princess from a curse that was cast on her by some evil ministers.
The contrast between the almost contemporary feel of Nolan's life and the fantasy of Amara's was jarring, but in a good way. It was impressive how Nolan and Amara had such different lives and concerns, and the way they interacted was realistic to me. I also thought that adding this other layer to a fantasy story just made it elevated because there were some big questions that were asked and answered. Nolan often felt like he wasn't really living any life because his whole life was dominated by Amara's, and that's something he had to figure out.
The diversity in the story was very strong. Nolan's parents speak Spanish, and Amara's world is full of people of colour. The diversity wasn't a subplot, and what I loved was that it was simply there. I'm just saying that many would enjoy how naturally everything was integrated into the story.
I ended up being incredibly engrossed in the plot from the start, but it did kind of wear at me eventually. The story ended up being different from what I wanted and I kind of think if there was a weakness, it would be the characterization of the villains(s). Frankly, I thought what they did, especially the motive was stupid and when you have a story so well thought out, having such sucky villains kind of cheapens everything. That's why I have some issues with how I would rate this story. Everything was complex, but the villains really weren't.
I also think that so much focus was put on the characters that the actual plot almost fell by the backside. I thought the emotions were genuine, but the story arc was weaker than it felt while reading, now that I look back at it. I don't think the plot was that strong, while the main characters were. Every other character had their moments, but weren't really the focus of the story.
All in all, I did think the plot and villains were a weakness, but the main characters and writing was nice. The story does capture you, but I thought it wasn't as good of a story as I would have thought from the beginning. I guess with that, I'd rate Otherbound between 3 and 4 stars. I did like it as a whole, and thought it was really good at some parts. The negatives are still significant, and I think for that it gets downgraded from 4 stars. So I'll give it the very rare, almost impossible to get half star. 3.5 stars for a story that for the most part I really liked.