Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

One Peregrine "Perry" Eckert is one of those young teenagers who spends his time playing the role-playing game Creatures & Caverns. His parents, of which he has four because of divorces, two of whom are the lawyers who sued for divorce, would prefer he spent time on more social, typical teenage pursuits. They decide to send him away to summer camp to get C&C out of his system.

At first, camp seems like a disaster. He strikes out with cute girl Anna. His secret C&C friend pretends he doesn't even know him. Plus, he gets on the bad side of some majorly tough gang members. Then, he encounters Mortin Enaw, magical creature and co-author of Creatures & Caverns. Perry follows him into the world of the Other Normals, a place inhabited by fauns and dog-headed men. Everyone has an equivalent in the normal world, and every action Perry takes changes the normal world. For instance, when Mortin's brother decides to give up smoking rocks, Perry's brother (His equivalent) is no longer in rehab for his drug problem.

Perry ends up visiting the world of the Other Normals a couple times, using it to clean up some humiliating moments between him and Anna (There is one particularly cringe-worthy and hilarious moment at the camp dance). He's going to need as much help as he can get, because his ultimate goal is to get a kiss from Anna. Her equivalent is the Princess, who has been kidnapped. It seems easy enough, but the plan gets more complicated when Perry starts to fall for a girl from the Other World.

I have never played any RPG, and I'm not a boy, which are two strikes against me liking this book. In any case, I love books about nerdiness and coming of age and all those good things, and I liked The Other Normals a lot. Perry was a very funny narrator, and I laughed out loud several times while reading. It's a fun story and there's a good amount of action. Read this and learn about what it takes to become a man. Hint: it's more than just a couple pubic hairs.

I received my copy of The Other Normals from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. It's available for purchase now.

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