Author: Corinne Duyvis
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Hardcover, 387 pages
Publication: June 17, 2014 by Amulet Books
Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.
Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.
She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.
Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious.
All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.
I was intrigued from the moment I first head of this book; it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard about. The idea is mind-boggling, ambitious, and extremely unique. It saddens me to say that this book did not live up to the hype or my expectations.
The book is told in dual p.o.v from Amara from the Duneland (another world) and Nolan from our world, alternating from chapter to chapter. Every time Nolan closes his eyes he transports to the land of Duneland looking out from the eyes of Amara, a servant girl. Many reviewers/readers raved of Duyvis’s amazing world-building, but I didn’t see it. The world of Duneland seemed like any typical fantasy world; filled with the usual caste system with the ministers ruling, mages (people with special ability) thrown in and a runaway cursed princess that really had no purpose in the story. The main gist of the story, Amara was stolen from the palace when she was young because she has the power to heal and was thrust with the responsibility to protect Princess Cilla from hurting herself. It is said, a single drop of Princess Cilla’s blood will create a multitude of destruction. The story and reason for this curse didn’t make a whole lot of sense, nor was it really explained till the very end. For 90% of the book, readers are told that Princess Cilla can’t get hurt, and we see the character bend-over-backwards protecting Cilla, treating her like a dainty flower. Then there’s poor Nolan, a disabled kid who has to watch through Amara’s eyes all his life. There isn’t much world-building on Nolan’s side either because he basically doesn’t have a life because half of his time is spent in another world every single time he closes his eyes or blinks.
It also didn’t help that the book started off slow…snail slow. I found myself putting the book down constantly because there wasn’t much going on and the characters didn’t feel authentic in anything they were doing or their interaction with other characters. I did not care nor connected with any of the characters at all. At the start of the book Amara would be afraid of everyone and everything. Amara made sure she followed all orders and didn’t look at the Princess the wrong way; otherwise there would be deadly consequences. Amara is a mute servant. I like that she didn’t let her disability stop her from doing anything to the best of her ability, she is always putting the Princess above herself…even at the end when she had the choice to be free; she chose saving the Princess over her freedom. I admire her strength and determination. Then we had Princess Cilla. Princess Cilla was the blandest character, she didn’t do anything but be a hindrance to herself and everyone around her. I didn’t see her bringing anything to the story expect her ‘curse’. And finally we have Nolan. Man, I just felt bad for the guy. He isn’t able to live a normal life because he’s always living Amara’s life half the time. He has no friends, he can never complete a homework assignment, can’t watch a movie, hangout with his family or help out…all because he’s connected with Amara. Although each character had their own different characteristic and hardship, they didn’t feel realistic therefore I never fully connected with them, nor felt invested in their story.
Otherbound started off slow but it did pick up in the last few chapters. I applaud the author on her efforts and I still think the concept was highly original. I also thought the author did a great job in creating diversity in her characters not only with nationality but sexual orientation as well. Overall, I don’t think this book was for me; the characters were one-dimensional, the world-building lackluster, and the dialogue monotonous. While I didn’t enjoy this book, many other people loved it. I suggest checking out an excerpt or a sample chapter before reading.