Rummanah Aasi
  Otherbound by Corrine Duyvis probably has the most unique and intriguing premise that I've read so far this year. Please note that this review is based on the advanced copy that I have received for this book by its publisher via Netgalley.

Description: 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.

Review: Otherbound succeeds in its inclusion of diverse characters. The characters are diverse not only in race and ethnicity but also in physical disabilities and sexuality. Unlike many novels that expound on any and all of these issues as a theme in their stories, these aspects of the characters are just part of them and that is my favorite aspect of the book. 
 In addition to the characters, the premise is completely intriguing and something that I've never read before but unfortunately it falls flat due to weak world building. Amara lives in a fantasy world full of magic and court intrigue. She is a protector of a cursed princess. She is bound by duty and loyalty not because she believes it is the right thing to do, but mostly out of necessity to survive. I was drawn to Amara's world particularly of its caste system and wished we got more details about her society particularly about the court intrigue which seemed to be very important in the beginning of the book but then was dropped as the book ended. Nolan is a boy on Earth, a teen who wishes his life can get back to being normal, but somehow he is magically connected to Amara whenever he closes his eyes. Though it was easier to relate to Nolan, I felt that his character was boring. I had hoped that his connection to Amara would infuse life into his character but it really doesn't go anywhere.  
  The pacing of the book is also a bit uneven. After an attention grabbing first chapter, it slows down tremendously as we get adjusted to both Amara's and Nolan's world respectively but there was not a lot of plot. The second half of the book gets progressively better when Amara and Nolan are both consciously aware of their connection. The plot does take some interesting turns, but the ending feels too rushed as there are additions of villains that are abstract at best appear in the story. Overall Otherbound does make huge strides in diversifying its characters but its story feels incomplete.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There are some scenes of torture, a small fade to black sex scene and some language in the book. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Girl of Fire and Thorn series by Rae Carson
4 Responses
  1. Welcome back! Hmm... I like the sound of the character diversity and the whole alien thing, but it seems that this was missing a bit of something....

  2. I've had an arc for months, but I never made it past the first 50 pages or so. I admired everything you did, and especially the diversity, but the plot just didn't grab me like it should have. It's too bad, so much wasted potential.

  3. You had me at diversity but I'm saddened by the lack of world-building and uneven pace. I still might have to check it out for the diversity... something that I feel is sadly lacking in a lot of lit nowadays.

  4. Welcome back, Rummanah! I've got a copy of this one but have yet to read it because the reviews I've read for it haven't been positive. I like that this one has diverse characters, but I'll continue to pass on this one because of the weak worldbuilding and the lack of a plot.

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