There are no spoilers in this review. There will be a spoilers part at the end, indicated, that you’ll have to underline to see (if you’re on the blog. If you’re on a WordPress Reader, beware while reading!)
I knew Jason Segel as an actor, I did not know him as a writer. That’s not what made me pick up this book, but I had to say it – a part of me was really curious to see what he could do as a writer. Another part of me was and always is amazed when it comes to new technologies, new realities and everything like that happening in a book. I mean, we’re it – we’re in this strange time where reality blurs, new technologies make impossible things possible, and so on. If Otherworld had me curious right from the start, captivated by this synopsis, a couple things prevented me from loving this book as much as I could have.
A MIX OF VIRTUAL REALITY AND THE REAL WORLD
First things first: I think you should know that the synopsis is very misleading, at least, it was a little bit for me. I expected to be fully immersed into a virtual reality most of the time, but Otherworld takes place as much in a virtual reality than in the real world, a world we already know as ours. That’s probably what makes it quite different, and a tad more realistic than other virtual realities or gaming kind of books we might see here and there – unlike Warcross, where the protagonist travels by this sort of hoverboard and Tokyo is highlighted all over, technologies taking over. Here, in Otherworld, the reality is what we actually know – only change is this company, the one that invented Otherworld, is here and making crazy things with people.
Otherworld took a bit of time to kick-off, but, in hindsight, this time was necessary for everything to be put into place, for the stakes to raise only higher and higher as the story goes on. Once everything is into place and once our main character, Simon, realizes what he has to do and really gets into gear, the story picks up at an incredible pace, with non-stop action leaving you no time to breathe, nor think. This book throws you on a thrilling ride, with a strange mix of real and virtual world, both worlds in which important lives are at stake, making you grip the book in anticipation for what’s coming next.
The world-building in this story was interesting – even if, at times, I will admit that it confused me, probably because I’m not too much of a gamer. Wild guess here, though. The virtual reality the authors built was really interesting, there is no denying that the authors had a wild imagination to build the worlds, the characters inhabiting it and the players.
AN INTERESTING CAST, BUT A CONNECTION MISSING
I think what, unfortunately, disappointed me a bit in Otherworld, were the characters. Simon, our main character, is a slightly rebel teenager, sarcastic all that you can imagine, fun at times for sure. Did I root for him? Obviously. Did I want him to succeed? Obviously. Did I love him? I’m still on the fence about that one. On the one hand, I thought he was an interesting characters with its own flaws, which made him obviously, really human. On the other hand, a little something was missing for me to really…hit it off, I think.
The other characters we meet in Otherworld are equally as interesting, but they lacked a bit of development, or maybe something for me to love them. I liked Kat, but I wanted to get to know her better. I really, really liked the characters Simon met in Otherworld and definitely wanted to know them more. Maybe this will happen in the sequel to that book – hopefully. One thing I have to say I really appreciated, though, was that one character was stated as “not into girls, nor boys”. We do not know more, whether she’s aromantic/asexual, but I was happy to find that representation in the book. Also, her character was pretty awesome so YAY!
Something I have to say about the characters, though, is that the book suffered from the rich-and-absent-parents-syndrom. I am not a fan of absent parents in books, because…Well, this happens way too often, and I doubt that Simon’s parents, as selfish and annoying as they were, did not care about their child to leave him off wandering for the whole book. I will admit it here, though, that this was probably a plot-device for everything to run smoothly for Simon and for him to go off on his adventures without being annoyed by curfew or something, so… in a way, I understand.
Potential warnings: problematic tropes & content [SPOILERS].
There are definitely some moments that made me feel a bit “meh” overall as well, influencing my decision to rate this lower than I could have. There definitely is the damsel in distress thing happening, a POC is sacrificed (not the only one, though) for the hero to complete his quest. I also thought that at times, the writing suggested that if people were disabled, their lives was not “worth it” – a couple of doubtful sentences here and there made me a bit “meh” overall. If you have read this book, I’d love to know your thoughts on the topic.
[END OF SPOILERS]
Despite my criticism, I had a good time reading Otherworld – as I said before, it was a really entertaining story, fast-paced and filled with adventures and people with bad intentions. It was a bit predictable at times, but I still wanted to keep on reading to know what would happen next. Definitely a story with a lot of hidden potential, maybe one that will be revealed as there is a sequel to this series.
Final rating: 3 drops!
The biggest thanks to the publisher, Penguin Random House & Delacorte Press for the ARC of this book. This did not, in any way affect my opinion on this story.
Trigger warnings: death, physical violence.
Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller, Otherworld, Published by Delacorte Press, October 31st, 2017.
The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.
Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.
Do you want to read Otherworld? Why, or why not? Also, did you know that Jason Segel wrote books (am I the only ignorant here?!!)?!
Do you like books dealing with gaming, virtual realities and such? Any recomendations to share? Let me know in comments!