Vizzini, Ned. The Other Normals.
25 September 2012
Reviewed at Young Adult Books Central; ARC from there.
Peregrine, aka Perry, is very involved in a Role Playing Game, Creatures and Caverns, to the extent where his divorced parents decide it would be best if he spent the summer at Camp Whisiska Lake . Perry doesn't want to go, because he's concerned about his brother, who seems to be slipping further and further into alcohol addiction, and because he has recently made a friend, Sam, who is also into RPGs. When he gets to camp, he finds that Sam is there but doesn't want to talk to him, especially about gaming. The other kids are tough, and Perry gets into a fight. When he ends up at the nurse's office, he meets Mortin Enaw, the author of the manual for Creatures and Caverns, and is suddenly whisked into the world of The Other Normals. Perry is thrilled at first, but soon finds out that things are not going well; Martin has a problem smoking "earth pebbles", and the whole world is in danger of collapse because the princess Ophisa has been captured. In order to get her back, he needs to go back to his own world and kiss a girl named Anna. He tries, but it ends very badly, and he heads back to the Other Normals. There, he and a group of Martin's compatriots, including a beautiful girl named Ada, have a number of adventures while trying to avoid being arrested, eaten, and otherwise abused while trying to restore Ophisa. Juggling the two worlds is difficult, especially since going from one to the other usually ends in Perry being naked. After the various journeys, Perry begins to realize that what happens in the World of the Other Normals effects what happens in his world. Can Perry solve the problems in both worlds AND get a girl in one of them?
Strengths: There isn't a lot of fiction about RPGs, and big fantasy readers are often interested in this games. This was fairly funny and adventurous, and I could see Surly Teen Boy enjoying this one a lot.
Weaknesses: This is definitely a Young Adult book-- at least two f-bombs, Perry exposing himself at a school dance, and several other sexual references, not to mention the confusing details of hopping from world to world-- make this more appropriate for high school students.