I thought I knew myself. Then I met Caleb.
Dez is a good girl who does as she’s told and tries not to be noticed. Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself. Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.
Everything is about to change–and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them, are prepared for what Dez will unleash.
OTHERKIN by Nina Berry is an action-packed, wild (excuse the pun) ride that wastes no time in jumping straight into the story. Although the topic of shape shifters is nothing new in YA, Nina devised a way to keep her story fresh with nearly non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action and a magical world unlike any other.
Desdemona is a shy orphan girl (in a back brace, no less) whose underlying shape shifting power is revealed when a spark of temper causes her to shift into the form of a tiger. She soon discovers that a group of magic-welding people wish to capture her. Eventually they succeed in doing just that, but she escapes with the help of another captive, Caleb. Along with Caleb, Dez sets off on an adventure to control her power and discover her shape shifting origins. Eventually, she finds herself caught up in a war between two races, the Otherkin (which she herself is) and the Tribunal. It’s amazing to watch this girl transform from an average(ish), insecure teenager into a strong, self-assured warrior. Trust me, nothing comes easy for this girl either.
Eventually Dez and Caleb end up at a school (think Hogwarts full of teenage, shape shifting misfits). There she meets a small group of characters that I fell in love with. Each is a shape shifter, ranging from a rat, a wolf, a bear and an eagle. By nature they are “frenemies” from separate Otherkin tribes who only tolerate each other when needed. They are rivals by their very nature. Through these characters and their interactions, Nina weaves into her story the ideas of forging friendships in spite of differences and going against the status-quo. Eventually, this ragtag band of misfits becomes something to be reckoned with. Good thing, too, because their common enemy turns out to be very dangerous indeed. To say more would spoil the story.
The only areas where the story faltered were:
1) The lack of world building from the start: Even by the end of the book so much still remains a mystery, which may actually be the author’s intent. We were given so many descriptions of the “whats” in this story, but not so much the “whys” and “hows”. While I understand that there is still plenty of time to round out the world and the creatures in it, this first installment seemed to be more about the action and less about building the mythology. I still don’t have a clear understanding about this “other world” from where the shadows come. I would love to learn more about it, and I look forward to reading book 2 in the series so I may do just that.
2) The insta-love: I adore Caleb. I adore Dez. They are both VERY likable characters, and by the end of the story their connection definitely clicked with me. BUT, although their connection was obvious from the start and intensified quickly, it took much, much longer for me to feel it. Seriously, insta-love in YA has GOT to go.
Perfect for fans of Andrea Cremer or Colleen Houck, OTHERKIN is an impressive start for this debut author. I look forward to reading book 2, OTHERMOON, so that I may once again immerse myself in her world.