Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis Review: A Diverse YA Fantasy

October 22, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis Review: A Diverse YA FantasyOtherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet Books on June 17, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT
Amazon | Book Depository | Angus & Robertson
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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.

Today I’d like to welcome the lovely Chiara @ Books for A Delicate Eternity for this guest review!

I had wanted to read Otherbound for a VERY long time, so when Jeann offered it to me for review, I was extremely excited. I’d heard great things about it, and it’s a fantasy featuring a bisexual main character (and lord knows we need more diversity in YA fantasy).

Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one as much as I hoped I would. I’m going to break it down into the things I really liked, and the things I wasn’t a big fan of, just to give some more insight into why this one didn’t quite reach its potential for me as a reader.

There were two main aspects of this novel that I loved:

The first is the diversity. Not only is one of our main characters (Amara) bisexual, but our other main character (Nolan) is Spanish-Mexican. And Amara’s female love interest is a girl of colour. The racial diversity in this book is on point, and it was beyond fabulous to read about. There was also physical diversity (I don’t know if that is the right word, but hopefully you know what I mean) in Otherbound: Nolan uses a prosthetic foot and crutches, and Amara cannot speak and signs her speech throughout the whole book. Neither Nolan nor Amara were wealthy, either. Amara is a servant, and Nolan’s mum has to work two jobs to try and pay for his ‘epilepsy’ (he doesn’t actually have epilepsy) drugs.

I want more books like this. Books that don’t just pick race or sexual orientation or physical diversity or economic diversity, but include them all. I don’t think I have ever come across a book (either contemporary or SF/F) in YA that has so much intersectional diversity.

The second aspect I liked about Otherbound was its premise. I loved the idea that there are other worlds besides ours, but we just don’t know about them. Otherbound weaved Nolan’s contemporary story with Amara’s fantasy one really well, and it was incredibly interesting to watch how they melded together over time.

These are the few aspects I wasn’t so sure about:

The second half of the novel is a lot better than the first. The first half takes a while to really get into the heart of the story, and there’s the introduction of a lot of magical aspects in Amara’s world that need deciphering.

I didn’t emotionally connect to any of the characters. Even when bad shit was happening. I didn’t have any kind of emotional response when Amara or Nolan were threatened, and even though I wanted a happy ending for both of them (because that’s just the kind of reader I am), I wasn’t investing any kind of hope into it. Which is probably the main reason I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would. Because even though it was enjoyable, and, at times, entertaining, I didn’t really care about what was happening.

The ending moved extremely quickly, and I don’t really feel that it was wrapped up all that well. To be entirely honest, I thought there was going to be a sequel, because there was just so much that had to happen in such a short time, and I didn’t think it would all come to a close. It did, to an extent. I have to warn that the ending was extremely open, which probably added to my dissatisfaction.


So, there were aspects that I was a huge fan of in Otherbound, and aspects that I wasn’t completely on board with. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read, and if you’re looking for an incredibly diverse YA fantasy that introduces a unique idea, then Otherbound is definitely worth your time.

(Also, I really have no idea why this book is called Otherbound. The word ‘oathbound’ was used once, and had no kind of description or explanation attached to it, either. This annoyed me. I like titles to make sense. But it didn’t impede on my enjoyment of the book, though. I just had to mention it!)

Rating: 3 out of 5


Thanks to Scholastic Australia for providing a review copy of the book! 

For more of Chiara’s reviews, you can follow her at: Books for a Delicate Eternity | Twitter | Goodreads 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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21 responses to “Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis Review: A Diverse YA Fantasy

  1. Romi

    Lovely review, Chiara! I'd been so keen to read this because it looked, sounded and seemed to be incredibly awesome, but I actually recently read the full synopsis (it took me about 3 months of yearning to get to that stage, but hey, I'm proactive in the end) and it actually didn't sound like something I'd necessarily enjoy. And listening to the points you make here, I think I'm both right and wrong in that- I definitely like the sound of the sexuality, the character history and background and cultural representation, but the actual storyline is possibly where things'd get sticky. I might see if my library has it, and give it a go, just to see how I feel about it.
    My recent post As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka.

  2. Faye M.

    First of all, I'm glad that there are more heroes and heroines out there who cater to people from all walks of life. More relatable heroines is a win-win for everybody – people not of their group can learn and understand them better, and people from their group will be able to find someone to identify with.

    But it's sad to know that this wasn't the perfect book we hoped it would be 🙁 If there is no connection to the heroines, any of them, it would be hard to feel invested in something, even if it is rich in diversity. But still, I see this as a win in the long run 😀
    My recent post Review: Fangirl

  3. Yeah! Welcome Chiara! So glad you enjoyed this one so much. It sounds like an amazing story, and the diversity of the characters makes me even more excited to pick it up. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this wonderful review! <3

  4. Braine-Talk Supe

    I hope the author does write a sequel even if it's a companion novel/la. It sucks when you don't have full closure on a story you've invested time in

  5. I absolutely LOVE that this book is diverse in so many ways! I don't think I've ever read a YA book with a bisexual protagonist so that already makes me want to pick it up. But it's such a shame you weren't able to connect emotionally though. I completely understand where you're coming from since I need to feel a connection to my characters too to fully enjoy a book.
    Lovely review. Chiara!
    My recent post Audiobook Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

    • I know, I haven't read a bisexual YA book too (recently read one in a NA book). Emotional connection is the most important, when it comes to relating to a character!

  6. Kara Terzis

    Lovely review, Chiara! I've really wanted to read this one, too, and I just realized my library has it–so I'm going to snatch it up as soon as possible. It sounds brilliantly diverse, and we SO need more of those novels. Shame you couldn't connect with the characters much, though.

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