Friday, June 17, 2016

The Otherlife by Julia Gray (ARC)

The OtherlifeTitle: The Otherlife
Author: Julia Gray
Pages: 416
e-book: 4.53£
paperback 7.99 £
Where you can buy it:
Plot summary: When troubled, quiet Ben begins at the ruthlessly competitive Cottesmore House, school to the richest, most privileged boys, he is befriended by Hobie: the wealthy class bully, product of monstrous indulgence and intense parental ambition.
Hobie is drawn to Ben because he can see the Otherlife: a violent, mythic place where gods and monsters roam. Ben has unnerving visions of Thor and Odin, and of the giant beasts that will destroy them, as well as Loki, god of mischief. Hobie is desperate to be a part of it.
Years later, Ben discovers his beloved tutor Jason is dead. And he can’t help wondering if Hobie – wild, restless, dangerous Hobie, had something to do with it…

"I always get away with it when I try stuff like this. Partly it comes down to sort of assuming that I'm going to. I've got loads of confidence. And Loki got away with everything. Well, almost everything."

I started reading The Otherlife expecting the usual fantasy/paranormal young adult. What I actually found myself reading was a queer mix of a contemporary and fantasy that pleasantly surprised and intrigued me. (In truth, this book could have been a thriller/crime too)

I was seriously awed by how the books is both very current and easily relatable to most people. The writing style was pleasant, witty and thoroughly enjoyable. I was very surprised by how the author managed to talk about mundane things such as school days and still make it interesting or touch important themes such as smothering parents, bullying, addictions, eating disorders and so on without resulting too heavy. 

The “fantasy” element (represented by the otherlife) enhanced an already engaging plot. I really liked how interwoven in the story and how the otherlife appeared not as a separate entity but as some sort of extra layer over out reality, with the Gods appearing in different shades of light and colour. It was imaginative and very poetic. 

Another element I greatly appreciated is importance that music – namely heavy metal music –  and how it was intertwined with the story. Being a big fan of metal myself and of rock festivals in general I was totally elated to have a main characters that goes out and about in bands t-shirts, loves Metallica and goes to rock festivals! (And it was really nice to find here and there some references to band I love and known movies such as The Lord of The Rings) 

The narration was fluid and smooth and I loved how the story was told going back and forth from present to past, from Ben’s point of view to Hobie’s. In addition, I found the pacing, enthralling and definitely pressing especially during the last chapters. I was in a frenzy while reading the last 100 pages, so much I wanted to discover and know what really had happened to Jason and to Hobie.
As for the ending...For once, it didn’t feel unsatisfactory. It was heartbreaking and sad but, at the same time, it was also right for the story. Apart from the ending, I was very fond of one of the messages the book leave us with “we can’t explain everything and sometimes we just have to accept it”.
Somehow, “The Otherlife” managed to be – at the same time – light and deep (which is a feat in itself, isn’t it?).  

In truth, I can honestly said that I have never read a book like this before, special in its peculiarity. One thing is certain: I’m not likely to forget “The Otherlife” anytime soon.

                                               4 blossoms


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