Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis Review

Monday, May 19, 2014

Title: Otherbound
Author: Corinne Duyvis (Twitter)
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publish Date: June 17, 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBT
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher

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.
Otherbound is a book unlike most of my normal reads. Fantasy is a genre that, at times, might seem all-encompassing, but it's only when an author tests the limits and bounds do we see what the story can really accomplish. Author, Corinne Duyvis, has created a masterful fantasy story that offers readers a glimpse at two different worlds, one of which is fantasy, and one of which is reality. Neither is without its faults, and the connection between these two worlds, harnessed involuntarily by Nolan is messy, unpredictable and dangerous. It's the perfect setup for a dramatic story that will cleverly weave us into a complicated and tangled web we're not sure we'll want to escape.

Nolan was both a tragic and engaging character. There is a deep, gritty and inherent sadness to his character that makes us understand and empathize with the depth of his connection to Amara. But while it might seem like an intriguing gift from an outsider's perspective, Otherbound quickly replaces that intrigue with a horrific sort of fascination. Nolan's gift is tedious. When he takes over Amara's mind, he leaves his body an empty shell - something that has inevitable repercussions that ground him in a painful reality. I found it intriguing that the author actually manages to progress his gift though, and up the ante, making it so he can take over Amara's body, as well. There was a dirty sort of connotation to it though, and the feeling left me uncomfortable and as vulnerable as Amara.

For Amara's part, she's never had an easy life. She was born into servitude, and it's all she's ever known in her entire life. But Amara's never been aware that Nolan can take over her mind either. It's only a reality on his end. We don't understand the depth of the violation until we watch as Nolan, simply trying to communicate with Amara, takes over her body, as well. There are undertones of physical assault, and watching Amara become powerless to both her actions and the fallout makes us uncomfortable. It was a clever way to better express the depth of Amara's loss of self though, and it made me want even more so for her to find an eventual freedom.

Otherbound was cleverly set in two very distinct worlds. Ms. Duyvis gives us a fantasy world that's tangibly intangible through Amara's eyes, then offers up a state of reality that mirrors our own by giving us Nolan. I enjoyed the polarity of the two, and I appreciated the fact that one world was so rich and vivid, while the other was painted in gray areas - allowing us to see the true dichotomy between both the worlds and our characters. I found it a bit confusing in the beginning when we transitioned between the two worlds, but it became easier as the story progressed.

There are many aspects of Otherbound that impressed me, but I must say that Ms. Duyvis's embracing of minorities and LGBT storylines was one of them, as well. Too often books like this give us tropes and don't offer any real substance. Though subtly scattered throughout, I found myself appreciating the author's style and finesse more and more. I think this was a solid, powerful debut novel, and it definitely leads me to want more from the author in the future! I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and upper YA, especially those who enjoy fantasy.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. What an interesting concept! And it sounds like it's really well executed too. I need to give this book a shot. I'll admit that I wasn't too keen on it for some reason, but your enthusiasm for it is very contagious, Melissa. The characters also sound like they are very well-developed and I can't wait to meet Nolan and Amara.
    Lovely review, Melissa!

    1. Thanks, Nick! I hope you DO give this one a shot. It's incredibly unique and well-written, plus I enjoy that the author took risks!

  2. Oooo this sounds intense and gritty and I feel like I need to read it as soon as possible Melissa! I love books that make me a touch uncomfortable and for me to ask myself questions I may or may not like the answers to. This is a gorgeous review my friend, I can't help but want to buy this after reading your thoughts:)

    1. It's definitely a dark and gritty read, at times, but the author manages to make it so much more than just bleak and forlorn. It's unlike anything I've read before!

  3. So, is he in a coma back in Arizona while spending all this time in her brain? How does he come out of it? I can only imagine the reaction of people back home if he told this story. They'd send him straight to the nuthouse! This sounds really good! Dark...but good!

  4. This is the first review I've read for this one and I'm eager to check it out now. It sounds like a unique concept and it sounds like the author handles it well.

    Great review!

  5. Yay! I'm glad you liked it. I know it was one of your WoWs a little bit ago, and other than you, I hadn't heard much about it. Now I want to grab a copy. I don't read much LGBT or Fantasy and I feel like reading this is one of those "two birds, one stone" kind of things, plus it just sounds pretty amazing. I'm just really interested in Amelia's reality.

  6. I love novels that push the boundaries of their genres and admire authors who dare to add diversity of any kind within ther novels, so I'll definitely be checking this one out soon, Melissa - gorgeous review!

  7. I'm really curious about the LGBT aspect of the novel, since I can't quite tell how it's used based on your review. I do think the overall concept for this novel sounds truly fascinating, and I'm glad to hear that the author isn't afraid to challenge the implications and terrifying possibilities inherent in Nolan and Amara's powers.
    Wonderful review, Melissa!


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