Book Review: Otherworld

Title: Otherworld
Author: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Genre: Science Fiction-Young Adult
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Pages: 355
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I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I loved the premise of the book and the virtual reality theme, and I found it engaging enough to hold my interest until the very end. It was very fast-paced and action-packed, at times enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. On the other hand, the storyline was a bit unbelievable for me – there were too many coincidences and too many things happened just conveniently when Simon was around or needed them to happen. Also, how is it possible that no one questioned why hundreds of people in a small geographical area suddenly developed an incredibly rare medical condition except a couple teenagers? Not one doctor, nurse, or hospital staff member noticed, even though they had likely never seen that diagnosis at that particular hospital before? There are other examples I could give, but I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. Needless to say, there are several parts that I don’t believe would have played out the same way in real life.

The other major drawback for me is that I did not like the main character, Simon. He came across as very spoiled, angsty, and self-centered. Yes, self-centered. Even though most of the book is focused on Simon trying to save his friend Kat, he is doing it for selfish reasons with no regard for her interests (she has told him repeatedly to leave her alone, but he continues to essentially stalk her, both in real life and virtually, because he has decided that he “needs” her). However, as much as I didn’t like the main character, the supporting characters that we meet along the way somewhat made up for that. They were relatable, smart, and funny. I thoroughly enjoyed Carole and Gorog’s playful banter during their journey through Otherworld.

I want to mention that the world-building in this book was excellent. When we were exploring Otherworld with Simon, I felt almost as if I was right there beside him. I could see what he was seeing, feel how he was feeling, and I wanted to stay in that world longer. Unfortunately, the majority of the novel is written outside of the virtual reality world, in the real world. I’m hoping that we will get to spend more time in the virtual reality world in the next book.

One other quick note: the writing style in this book was very simple and straightforward, definitely geared towards the younger readers in the YA category, although it does have some PG content. This is not necessarily a negative or a positive thing; I just wanted to set your expectations correctly if you’re planning to read this book.

Overall, I’m giving Otherworld a 3/5 score. It had the potential to be something really great, but somehow I think it fell short. Fortunately, it is the first in a series and there’s still a chance for the authors to improve on it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for my honest review.

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