Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Evan Ronan, for an honest review.
Plot: Aoife Finley is bursting at the seams with creativity. No one daydreams better than her and her imagination knows no bounds.
Mr. Peterson is old, his best days long behind him. He yearns for the past, mistrusts the present, and fears the future. But he’s just figured out how to recapture his past:
By stealing other people’s imaginations.
Armed with only her creativity, imaginary friends, and a few bickering classmates, Aoife embarks on an amazing, but dangerous journey into the OtherWorld that she created, a place that is slipping more and more out of her control and into Mr. Peterson’s, before the real world as she knows it—and as it could be—disappears forever.
OtherWorld is a YA fantasy adventure about the power of the imagination and how anything is possible. It is 80,000 words long and Evan Ronan’s first (but hopefully not last) YA novel.
Opinion: Seeing as how Evan Ronan was the first author to ever request a review from me (thanks Evan), and after reading five of his books and becoming obsessed with them, I naturally assumed that writing paranormal thrillers was a genre he would stay in because I felt he absolutely shined in it. Well THANKFULLY this author doesn’t stick to just paranormal thrillers, because WOW…I am once again super impressed with the stories that this guy comes up with. This is his first attempt at a YA story and he absolutely NAILED it!
Ten-year-old Aoife (pronounced Eef-uh) Finley has been pushing her imagination to the limits since as long as she can remember. Prone to constant daydreaming, Aoife often travels in her mind to a world she created called Paxsum (which is a re-creation of the actual town she lives in called Paxson). In Paxsum Aoife has the ability to imagine and create anything she desires, like a talking recycling bin named Al or “Leg Giants” which are literally giant legs with arms. Usually Aoife and her imagined friends are the only ones that can enter her made-up world, but one day that suddenly changes. Someone starts to steal the imaginations of Aoife’s classmates and neighbors, and suddenly Paxsum has turned into a place that is dangerous and almost impossible to escape from. With suspicions that old Mr. Peterson from town is behind it, Aoife and a few of her unruly classmates enter Paxsum together in the hopes of putting her world back together and restoring the imaginations of everyone in Paxson.
Let’s first start off with addressing how truly creative and different the premise for this story is. Hopefully we can all recall a time in our childhoods when our imaginations truly had no limit. Where we created other worlds and friends, and we fed off the imaginations of other kids as we traveled through those places together. Evan Ronan has literally taken a small piece of all our childhoods and expanded it into a story that shows the reader the endless possibilities to one’s imagination. Aoife Finley is a spunky 10-year-old girl who has a vast and wild imagination. I enjoyed the endless limit to her creaivity that the author gifted her, and I liked that her imagination is what expands and keeps Paxsum intact.
The characters that the reader is introduced to in this story are TRULY something else. Not only is there a BBQ named B that sounds like she has smoked for forty years, there are kids in Aoife’s class with nicknames such as Slob, Killer and Binky. The author has ensured to give us a nice potluck of kids to get to know and become invested in; as well as a feisty yet endearing young girl named Erica whose personality is prickly. As Aoife puts it: “Nobody clicked their gum as sharply as her”. Apart from amazing characters, this book is PACKED to the brim with countless turmoil and adventures. The characters find themselves running from larger-than-life Venus flytraps who try to eat them, ginormous rouge possums, and falling skyscrapers that they can only be avoided by yelling to the heavens “I am Steel Sunday!” With so many moments that the reader can relate to having imagined in their youth, I was able to be completely enthralled and entertained throughout this story.
One thing that I did have trouble connecting with was how many times our main character said “cool” at the beginning of this story. Understandably, a ten-year-old might not have a vast library of adjectives at her disposal when describing things…but a ten-year-old like this? She should be EXPLODING with adjectives. Though this is obviously not a huge problem for me in the story, the reader in me couldn’t stop focusing on the overuse of this word. Apart from this, I think the author did a fine job of putting the reader in the head of a young pre-teen. As Aoife was telling the reader countless moments when she couldn’t understand “adult talk” I found myself smirking at knowing that feeling all too well when I was her age.
Even though I think that target age for this book would be children or pre-teens, it is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Considering how many adults have reviewed this book on Amazon or Goodreads, I think you can trust me when I say that. With that said, this story is really something SPECIAL. It filled me with nostalgia for the wonderful times that I had as a little girl, while also putting a small smile on my face as I relived my childhood. I HIGHLY recommend this story to any age group, and it is a book that can be enjoyed with your entire family.