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I Belong

Review: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

The Other NormalsTitle: The Other Normals

Author: Ned Vizzini

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 25, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

ISBN-10: 0062079905 (Balzer + Bray)

ISBN-13: 978-0062079909 (Balzer + Bray)

Reviewed by: Kayla


From Ned Vizzini, the best-selling author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and the co-author of the New York Times bestseller House of Secrets, comes this geektastic tale about role-playing and growing up. The Other Normals is a story from one of the most brilliant voices in teen literature about the winding and often hilarious path to manhood.

Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, a role-playing game with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin. But that isn’t happening—not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp.

Perry is bracing himself for the worst summer of his life. Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and mythical creatures from the game. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest together, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well.

Quick and Dirty: The Other Normals is an extremely clichéd book that I would not recommend to most girls; the book however, is okay for most teenage boys because of its ability to identify with them.

Opening Sentence: This is a story about becoming a man, so naturally it starts with me alone in a room playing with myself.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Like so many other books available, The Other Normals centers around a socially awkward teenager that needs to save the world.  Peregrine Eckert, also known as Perry, is a typical geek trying to go through high school with no friends and a role playing game.  Perry is playing Creatures & Caverns, a role playing game very similar to Dungeons & Dragons.  Soon however, Perry is called to save the world from imminent destruction.  F rom this point on, the book is simply another clichéd book about an underdog saving the world and in the end getting the girl.

From the beginning, the book seemed extremely cliché with the character himself.  Perry is socially awkward, has an abundance of acne, is pale, plays a role playing game, has only one semi-faithful friend, and is asked to save the world.  In this particular book he is asked to save the world by going to an alternate universe.  The other world is known to be the world which he had fantasized about, the world of Creature & Caverns, also know as the World of the Other Normals.  The simple fact that a game actually turns into life is not very creative and quite mundane.

The book was therefore excruciatingly painful to read, and until the end, I did not enjoy it.  The beginning of the book is quite plain and very slow.  Most of it consists of random fight scenes that don’t really interest the reader.  All the other characters that come up in the book are typical: the school bully Ryu, the unfaithful friend Sam, the ignorant but strict teacher Dale, the beautiful hard to get girl Ada, the mean pretty girl Anna.  The end of the book does have some, however few, redeeming factors.  The ending was quite surprising.  There were some parts that surprised me even though the ending was still what I thought it would be.

I attribute some of my uninterest to the fact that the book’s designated audience is likely the teenage male.  Some of the parts are quite disturbing as they are read by a female but would be quite normal as they are read by a teenage boy.  Some information is said about the main character that would be normal to a boy but disturbing to know for a girl.  The book can also be seen as one of those that a teenage boy book can fantasize about.  It is a book where a teenager can pretend to be Perry Eckert.  It is a book where a boy going through high school can identify with.
I will therefore give the book the benefit of the doubt.  As a girl, I did not find the book very entertaining but someone else might find it quite entertaining just because it is so easy to identify with.  The book is quite cliché when it comes to the overall plotline, but there were some factors that could make it quite humorous to a different audience.

Notable Scene:

Mortin stands in front of me, wearing a brown loincloth. He has good musculature. He’s rubbing something under his eye, like sunscreen. He turns away to finish it up, as if he’s hiding something from me, and then I notice a girl standing next to him.

She seems about my age, with pale skin and bright blue hair. My brain registers two things: First, she’s beautiful. Second, I’m naked. Women allegedly like naked men, but I’ve never seen this confirmed. I cover myself on the floor.

“Hey!” Mortin says, whirling around. His face looks fine; I don’t know what he was doing to it. “You made it!”

“Where the Hell are my clothes?”

“What did I tell you? You didn’t take them off?”

“No! There was a . . . where’d they go?” I lower my voice, “And who’s she?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“How’m I not supposed to worry about it? Where am I? That hurt!”

“Don’t whine. Does it still work? Is it starting to itch?”

“What do you-”

It starts in my feet, the way the halos did, but then it blooms; the most ferocious itching I’ve ever experienced. It creeps up my legs and around my sides. My stomach itches. My spine itches. My eardrums itch. As the itching burrows deep into my body, it gets stronger, and I wonder if an itch can get worse and worse indefinitely. With pain, at some point you black out, but with itching, what happens? I send my fingernails into my naked skin, clawing–

“Stop!” Moton yells. “Here!”


FTC Advisory: Balzer + Bray provided me with a copy of The Other Normals. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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