I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Othergirl by Nicole Burstein
Published by Andersen Press on April 2nd 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comics & Graphic Novels, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, General, Girls & Women, Juvenile Nonfiction, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Superheroes, Young Adult
Louise and Erica have been best friends since forever. They’re closer than sisters and depend on each other for almost everything. Just one problem: Erica has superpowers. When Erica isn’t doing loop-the-loops in the sky or burning things with her heat pulse powers, she needs Louise to hold her non-super life together. After all, the girls still have homework, parents and boys to figure out. But being a superhero’s BFF is not easy, especially as trouble has a way of seeking them out. Soon Louise discovers that Erica might be able to survive explosions and fly faster than a speeding bullet, but she can’t win every fight by herself. Life isn’t a comic book – it’s even crazier than that.
Review: Full disclosure first; I’ve met and chatted with Nicole a few times through the blogging community and she was kind enough to send me a copy of Othergirl to review. As always, this doesn’t affect my review’s content, tone, or honesty.
I was really excited for Nicole’s YA debut, especially as I’d been chatting with her from when she worked in book selling and blogged at some YA events and she’s brilliantly enthusiastic about YA. Othergirl has a fantastic premise about what happens when your best friend is the superhero and you’re just a regular person?
This book is fantastically fun and fans of graphic novels and superhero stories will find so much to enjoy. The plot is original and despite sounding very removed from teenage experience, really highlights the difficulties in friendships, feeling like you’re not as good as your friends and finding your way as a teenager.
The exploration of friendship really worked for me, especially how seemingly tight friendships can come loose when boys and romance are added into the equation. Louise at times did feel a little passive as a character in her life (fixing Erica’s costume and basically organising her life behind the scenes) but she grows throughout the plot and this is sort of the point.
The one issue I did have was I felt Louise was more invested in her friendship than Erica and the events of the book highlighted this to the reader and Louise. Although I can sadly believe people are friends only out of school, I think I would liked it even more if Erica and Louise were just friends in and outside of school in the first place because it sets up this sense of the friendship being almost one-sided otherwise. That said, the exploration of friendship as I mentioned worked for me and I think Louise grew a lot as a character as the novel progressed. I really liked her relationship with Toby too. There were some fun twists and turns and a brilliantly action packed final third to the novel.
The world Burstein has created is strong; feeling like our world but with the added twist of superheroes being some of their more prominent celebrities.
Overall, this is a great debut and I read it very quickly. Although as I said, fans of superheroes and graphic novels will find a lot to love in this book, I think it has a wider contemporary YA appeal due to its look at friendships, self-belief and being a teenager. I will definitely check out more of Burstein’s writing and think she’s a welcome addition to UKYA!