Book Review + Giveaway: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

4 Oct

Book cover for The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

Title: The Other Normals

Author: Ned Vizzini

Genre: Fantasy YA, Contemporary YA, gaming

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: September 25, 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Source: ARC from the publisher

Summary: The Other Normals centers on 15-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert, who’s seriously obsessed with an uber-dorky role-playing game called Creatures & Caverns. Concerned about his stunted social skills and need for fresh air, Perry’s parents decide to ship him off to summer camp to become a man. He anticipates the worst summer of his life until he arrives at camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals, a place where his nerdy childhood may serve him well — but not without connecting with the real world first.

Friends, THE OTHER NORMALS by Ned Vizzini is basically nerd gaming awesomeness. Just reading the summary made me all kinds of excited: role-playing games, dorks, summer camp, fantasy worlds–all things that I love reading about, topped off with heaping doses of social awkwardness, teenage boy hilarity, and some real interesting family issues to boot.

Anyone named “Perry Eckert” is probably bound to have some issues with being cool. Or not. His parents certainly did him no favors with that name, guys, so it’s not too surprising to learn that our intrepid MC is a nerd of the highest order who comes from a family of divorce. Perry has found solace–and, it seems, the thing that makes him most himself–in role-playing games. Namely, Creatures & Caverns. He lives and dies by it. Which his parents agree is the thing that is hampering his social growth BIG TIME. (BOO to parents hating on the nerdy pursuits!) To break Perry of his weird, embarrassing habit, and with the hope of getting their son to mature and be what they think is normal around kids his own age, they send him to a summer camp in New Jersey (best surprise ever!). And this, friends, is where THE OTHER NORMALS gets good and Perry gets…well, increasingly awkward for a time and then less so. It’s satisfying.

No lie, Perry is cringe-inducingly awkward. Painfully so. Out of all the awkward pre-pubescent boys I knew when I was 14, Perry probably takes the cake (not easy). It’s funny to me as an adult female to read about the absolutely bananas things he does, but it’s also the book equivalent of the way I react to watching American Idol auditions: I don’t really watch that show, but I NEVER, EVER watch the auditions because I CRINGE SO MUCH I can’t even deal. But I loved Perry’s humor, and the humor in Ned Vizzini‘s writing. And I loved and appreciated so much that Perry and his camp friends talk like boys. That was refreshing to me.

The fantasy elements in THE OTHER NORMALS were clever and not overwhelming at all. If you aren’t someone who usually gets down with fantasies, this would be a great book for you to try. The world is interesting and creatively made, but it’s not complicated or full of complex differences from the real world that would have made the jumping back and forth between the two hard to process. Perry spends time at camp, and time in the World of the Other Normals, but it’s never jarring. As an avid reader of fantasy, I could have handled a little more of the fantasy world, but really, it was good.

THE OTHER NORMALS by Ned Vizzini is a really fun, fast-paced book that is equally about fantastical adventures and nerdy coming of age. It was funny and awkward and clever. I don’t often read too many books where the protagonist is a boy at that weird age that Perry finds himself, and it was as cringey and emotionally satisfying as I imagined it would be. Because Perry really DOES grow in THE OTHER NORMALS. In lots of ways. Some of them are hilarious, some of them are more serious. All in all, though, Ned Vizzni’s book has lots of humor and heart and some super fantasy elements, too.

Now, because THE OTHER NORMALS by Ned Vizzini is so fun and because Balzer + Bray is super cool, I am giving away my ARC to one of you lucky people!! Just a few simple rules stand between you and a copy of THE OTHER NORMALS!!

Win an ARC of THE OTHER NORMALS by Ned Vizzini!

  • Be at least 13 years old.
  • Live in the US or Canada–sorry rest of the world! 😦
  • Respond to my, “HEY! You won The Other Normals! Do a happy dance!” email within 48 hours or someone else will be happy dancing instead.

The giveaway closes at 11:59 PM on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11!! Winner will be selected at random and emailed. 


3 Responses to “Book Review + Giveaway: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini”

  1. April Books & Wine October 4, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I agree that the fantasy elements are not overwhelming. It’s very fantasy-lite, which is perfect for people who aren’t really accustomed to fantasy.


  2. Allison (Allure of Books) October 5, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    fantastical, nerdy, awkward, clever, funny….you are hitting ALL MY BUZZWORDS.

  3. megtao October 5, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I love awkward (though this sounds like it’s more cringe awkward than cute awkward), but even more than that I love Balzer + Bray, so I think I’ll look into this book.

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