Book Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

26 Dec

Title: Every Other Day

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Every Other Day, book 1

Genre: Paranormal YA

Publisher: Egmont USA

Published on: December 27, 2011

Source: NetGalley

Summary: Every other day, Kali D’Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She’s human.

And then every day in between . . .She’s something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she’ll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.

I don’t know how you guys are feeling about paranormal YAs, but sometimes I get a little burned out from them. There was a time when I read mostly stories from this genre with no hint of fatigue or dissatisfaction. And then, all of a sudden, every paranormal book I picked up was like, “JEEZ. This again,” and I would put it down and move onto something else. Paranormal YAs were over-saturating me and all my many piles of books.

So for awhile now I’ve tried to branch out a little more and read books from OTHER genres, and I’m finding, not surprisingly, that I miss my ghosts and witches and vamps and wolves and whatever other crazy creatures and spookiness YA paranormals have in spades. I just have to be a little less of a glutton for them, and I enjoy the ones I DO read even more. Cause no one in dystopians sees ghosts or stakes vampires! (Yet. Have I missed a book like this? DO TELL PLEASE.) I miss the basically contemporary stories with flesh-eating hell beasts! And infuriating insta-love! And characters who are fearless beyond reason against creatures of the night even as they fight for their lives, the lives of the ones they love and the WHOLE UNIVERSE ITSELF. Those are always the stakes, right?

But never fear, you guys. EVERY OTHER DAY is all of the things we love about paranormal stories. It has some things that maybe bother us a little bit about paranormals, too, but I enjoyed it all the same. And the good things outweigh the head-shaking things for sure and leave me with high, high hopes for the books ahead.

So I know I said before that there are no ghosty/supernatural dystopians, and while the world in EVERY OTHER DAY has some differences from our own, I wouldn’t classify it as a dystopian by any means even if there are demon creatures in it. It’s more like an alternate present where only ONE major thing is different–that being the fact that Darwin, on his seminal voyage to the Galapagos Islands, whereupon he formalized and researched his theory of evolution, not only discovered the existence of creatures from the animal kingdom but also creatures from H-E-double hockey sticks. Yup. DEMONS. And being a consummate scientist, he reported it and sent all of the scientists in the world from that moment to this into a tizzy of classification, study, genetic research, preservation, and NERDGASMS. HOT STUFF. But I was TOTALLY fascinated with the alternate version of reality presented here. It’s just such an interesting idea to ponder: What if these things were secrets to no one? What if, as I was walking around somewhere, I came across a real zombie, just hanging out, chewing his own arm or whatever zombies do, and no one noticed or cared or DID anything about it because ZOMBIES ARE A PROTECTED SPECIES, like a supernatural condor. This part I enjoyed very much, although occasionally I found some of it confusing. And maybe I watch too much Supernatural (“What?!” I hear you say. “There’s no such thing as too much Winchesters!” I would have to AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY), but I did not imagine a chupacabra as a parasite. Obvs need to brush up on my demon beasties.

Kali, the main character in this demon ass-kicker story, is all kinds of tough-girl awesome. One day, she’s as normal a human girl as I am. The next? Mmmm, not so much normal. She becomes almost like a heightened superhuman. Her senses are sharper, she is virtually immortal and heals speedily, and she has an insatiable desire to hunt and kill demons, which is a no no in this altered present-time of EVERY OTHER DAY. But I liked Kali. She’s not perfect, but she’s tortured and broody and brave. Her relationship with her father is distant at best, nonexistent at worst. They live together but RARELY interact, mostly out of awkwardness and indifference. She is also one of those deliberate loner types who keeps people at arms’ length out of some perverted but not inexplicable sense of protection and self-preservation. She comes around, though, as the drama unfolds. (There’s a big mysterious company that’s doing some “research” and we all know how that goes.) PLUS, she’s a complete BAMF and I love BAMFs.

The relationship between Kali and Zev was, well, not my favorite thing, but that’s only because they were hardly together at all. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it was not really addressed with any kind of focus or detail and as a result it felt more forced, random, and bland to me. It’s an odd connection: they are physically separated for 95 percent of the book, during which time Zev is merely a voice and a presence in Kali’s head. They went from 0 to 60 (zero being slightly antagonistic strangers and 60 being YOU ARE MY HOME FOREVER AND INFINITY) in maybe a chapter. I’m sure we were meant to feel that things had been slowly building, but I didn’t see it. But that’s not to say that with a little more time together–actually TOGETHER–I couldn’t come to love them, and since they are apparently destined to be together (ugh!) I’m assuming that they are indeed going to be spending more time in each other’s company.

In truth, based on the interactions with the manly men in this book, I’m finding myself REALLY interested in those Hayden brothers, and I was particularly hopeful that Kali and Eliott would have some sexytimes. They seemed to often be looking meaningfully at each other, and Kali would never let an instant pass when she could remark on his sweet tone of voice or his defined cheekbones, broad chest or penetrating blue eyes. My fingers are crossed for some of THAT action, yo! Or even with Reid, the oldest Hayden brother (just HOW old, I’m not sure, so forgive if this winds up being inappropriate), who is a cop (SEXY COP!!) with a tough exterior but who is also MELTY IN THE MIDDLE, I just KNOW it. Ahem. That, in case you were wondering, was my humble request for more boom in my pants next time.

No, the relationships that stuck out to me–in fact, the characters that stuck out to me–were the girls. Kali, Skyler, and Bethany. What an interesting group of chickadees they are! All so different and wonderful in their own ways. Kali is the mysterious badass, Skyler the innocent optimist who is more than she seems, and Bethany the snarky, bitchy queen bee with good heart (it’s hidden deep, DEEP down, but it’s there). Seeing the three of them bounce off one another was a treat, honestly, because their friendships grew in abnormal circumstances. And because the whole action of the book takes place over just over 24 hours, their connections to each other are still young and small and growing, so you get lots of secrets kept and bitchy remarks and skeptical loyalties. It’s really good stuff.

So you know how a little bit further up here I mentioned that Kali and Zev would be spending more time together? The ending indicates this in a big, BIG way and was such a good cliffhanger that I can almost forgive the other things about the story that niggled me. It was a great balance of action, advancing the timeline, and mysterious indications of BADASSERY to come. Some parts of the end felt a little abrupt, but mostly it was bananas. It was a perfect tease of what’s on the way for Kali and Zev and everyone. Here’s hoping that the next book in this series takes the foundation from EVERY OTHER DAY and builds on it, because there’s SO MUCH potential for awesome. And if the this book was any indication of what’s to come…you guys? It should be a doozy.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes”

  1. CanaryTheFirst December 26, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I am in love with the idea of zombies as a protected species. Shame on you, I have sworn off the paranormal YA genre and now you are pulling me back in!

    Speaking of dystopian + supernatural, have you given Feed by Mira Grant a try? Meg, one of my reviewers, posted on it a while back and loved it. (And she’s hard to please.) I read A Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder a couple days ago, and though it was more romantic fantasy, it introduced a very interesting combo of sorta-science and undead near the end.

    Another series that comes to mind is Butcher’s Dresden Files. Sure, they’re Urban Fantasy, but they def. hit the post-apocalyptic note near the end of the series plot arc.

    Finally, I have Enclave by Ann Aguirre on my To Read list. As far as I can tell from the back blurb and reader reviews, this is straight up Dystopian+Undead+YA+Romance.

  2. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books December 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I read this one a while back, and I really liked it more than I expected I would! It was something new for me, and quite refreshing to read. Though there were a few things I may not have liked about it, overall, I thought it was a good first book and I can’t wait to read more. 🙂

  3. April (Good Books & Wine) December 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I agree on SO MANY POINTS. YES YES on Reid. No to Elliot, he and Bethany are a good match, I think. I’m full of sads about a certain death.
    AND WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH ZEV. I mean, goodness. I just could not get behind that.

    Also, the chupacabra, I always thought that was like a weird looking weasel or something, not a parasite lol.

    I liked Kali too, but thought she was a bit TOO broody for me with her SEKRETS! and all.

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