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.
The Good Bits.
The amount of diversity in this novel is fantastic and, in my opinion, is the sort of representation to which all authors should aspire. Moreover, it’s representation where the characters’ diversity isn’t a plot point. Amara is a bisexual character who struggles between loving two people vs identifying as bisexual. Nolan has an artificial leg and struggles with being torn between his world and Amara’s vs. struggling with a disabled identity. These things are just a part of who they are.
We absolutely need stories that talk about the conflicts surrounding LGBTQ+, disabled, and/or POC identities. But at the same time, I find it refreshing to see diversity included more as part of the character and less as part of the plot.
Concept and Worldbuilding
Every time Nolan closes his eyes he’s transported to Amara’s world. When I started this novel, I assumed he would only be transported when he deliberately closed his eyes. But no, even blinking will send him over. It’s this constant disruption to his life that makes Nolan’s situation so debilitating. It would be easier to write if he didn’t go over so often, but I appreciated the uniqueness of the fact that he did.
Amara’s world is detailed and rich, not so much with the setting, but with culture. The servants (read: slaves) like Amara have their tongues cut out when they’re young and use sign language to communicate. There’s so much cultural worldbuilding around this aspect alone. The morality and politics of the practice, the indication of status, and more. The world is well thought out.
Nolan and Amara
These two have a complicated relationship that reads as realistic despite the fantasy. Nolan sees through Amara’s eyes for years without her noticing and is desperate to gain her attention. But when he finally takes over her body to communicate with her, she’s disgusted and violated. The two become allies, but the relationship always remains strained. This felt real. And it’s a harder choice when writing, but it worked well.
YA Parent Syndrome
Nolan’s parents are there, but not there. In the beginning of the novel, they have good characterization and individual traits. But as things go on they disappear. Nolan skips days of school and they don’t notice until it becomes a plot point for them to notice.
[su_spoiler title=”Click for Spoilers” style=”fancy”]From the beginning, Amara is in a romantic relationship with Maart, a fellow servant, who she’s in love with. But at the same time, she definitely has feelings for Cilla who she has to protect. This creates a love triangle. And then Maart dies.
I hate this. Not because Maart died. As a character, I didn’t particularly care about him. But because he obviously died to free up Amara to start a relationship with Cilla. The book solves the love rivalry by killing off one of them. I cannot stand this.
Amara struggles with moving on, but she would have had more of a struggle if Maart lived. The book never took the ‘easy way out’ until this point.[/su_spoiler]
The Last Bite.
I want more of this because it was so good, but as a standalone, it feels complete. Otherbound takes a unique concept and diverse characters and creates a story that follows you after you’re finished reading. I would highly recommend it to any fans of fantasy.
You can participate in the discussion without having read the book!
Otherbound is a novel that incorporates a lot of diversity in characters including a mute and bisexual main character and another with an artificial leg. But there are no coming out aspects or major conflict connected to their identities. What are the benefits of including diversity that isn’t part of any plot points or conflict?
What are your favourite books that take place in two worlds? Or ones you want to read?
Let’s do lunch again next week!