Sixteen-year-old Desdemona Gray doesn’t even bother with crushes on cute boys now that she’s forced to wear a hard plastic back brace all day. What guy would want to literally have to knock on a girl to be let in? So she squashes down every impossible desire until an uber-awkward brush with a boy brings out all her frustration and she changes…into a tiger. In that bewildering moment, she is captured by Ximon, the leader of a fanatical group hell-bent on wiping out the five remaining tribes of shape-shifters, known as the otherkin.
With help from a handsome, mysterious fellow captive named Caleb, she escapes and goes on the run, finding allies and learning the truth behind the legends of wizards and were-creatures. Then Ximon goes too far, and Dez must tap into all her buried desires to find her inner tiger and save herself, her new friends, and the boy she loves.
I’m fascinated by how fictional characters accept their super powers.
I’ve found that many superheroes have their “oh shit” moments, as they realize they can do things that are unbelievable. Then they are off and doing their thing, saving the world, or learning how to be a wizard, or suddenly being a tiger. Dez is one smart cookie, having been raised in a loving home, but like any adopted child she’s curious about her birth family. As Otherkin begins, Dez is freaking out because a major hottie asks her to the dance. Her biggest worry is the boy’s reaction when he puts his arm around her waist. The next thing she knows, Dez is a tiger, and she’s being kidnapped.
And Dez deals with things, using her powers to deal with what’s happened to her. There’s no time to wonder what the hell just happened, or to feel sorry for herself. Dez has to deal, or she’s going to be dead. But Dez, who wears a back brace because of an abnormal curve in her spine, is used to be different. She’s dealt with lots of physical pain in her short sixteen years. And hey, she’s a superhero. Dez gets over the shock of being a tiger; she and her family are in danger, and there’s work to be done.
I like the characters in Otherkin–Dez and her loving, adoptive parents, the mysterious but hunky Caleb, and the quirky students at Otherkin school. And of course, there are the villains, members of the Tribunal, who kidnap Dez and are committed to doing bad things to all Otherkin.
The first third of Otherkin flows smoothly. Then Dez and Caleb get to the Otherkin school, and my interest flagged a bit as the story shifted to introduce a bunch of new characters. My interest in Otherkin waned at this point, so I set the book aside for a few days. Then I picked it up again, because I wanted to know what Dez was going to do next.
I’m glad I continued reading, because the story picked up and got really good. The last third of Otherkin did not disappoint me; there was lots of danger, the characters kept up being really odd (and interesting), and the story started flowing again. There’s some teenage angst in Otherkin, but I did not find it annoying; the characters were too busy staying alive to get lost in whining. By the last page I was really sorry the story was over, and devoured the excerpt from Nina Berry’s Othermoon, which will be published in February. Othermoon is on my list to watch out for!
I’m giving Otherkin 3.5 stars, a fun book with characters I want to know more about. Does Dez continue to deal with her super powers? What’s up with Caleb? How aboiut the other students at the Otherkin school? And what’s the Tribunal going to do next?
Check out author Nina Berry’s blog, http://thetulgey.blogspot.com/.