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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: September 25, 2012
Pages: 400
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss
Rating: 4 Stars


Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin, so when his parents ship him off to summer camp Perry is sure he’s in for the worst summer of his life.
Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest together, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero.

In short: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini is the most hilarious book I've read this year.
Hands up if you've ever wished you could visit a fantasy world that you've always dreamed about seeing in real life. I know I would offer up my first born to be able to go to Hogwarts (kidding, of course...). So I was very envious of The Other Normals' unusual hero, Peregrine "Perry" Eckert, when he finds out that the alternate world he has been obsessing over from his Creatures & Caverns rulebook (a play on Dungeons & Dragons) is a real place that he can visit. What a fun concept! Seriously every nerd's dream.

Having never read anything by Ned Vizzini before, I can't speak to whether all his books have a similar tone, but The Other Normals was BEYOND hilarious and the humour was absolutely the highlight of the book for me. It definitely takes the prize for funniest book I've read this year. That awkward moment when you're reading something funny in public and you burst out laughing causing everyone in the vicinity to stare at you strangely? Be prepared for a lot of that if you read The Other Normals in public. Everything about the world Ned Vizzini created was just silly and ridiculous and brilliant.

Most of the humour is derived from protagonist Perry's interaction with other characters and his approach to various situations. He is without a doubt the most geeky and socially awkward character I have ever read about and Ned Vizzini utilizes these characteristics to maximum comic effect. In other circumstances, I might be annoyed by how ridiculously blundering Perry can be, but Ned Vizzini manages to endear him to the reader, creating a very sweet and charming character. It was nice seeing Perry finally take hold of his life and live it to the fullest.

I will say that I thought the world building and concept was pretty sketchy and riddled with plot holes, but I realize that criticism is not entirely fair. The Other Normals isn't a book that is meant to be taken too seriously. I definitely recommend The Other Normals to anyone looking for just a fun, nonserious read to pass the time. A fast pace, tons of quick witted dialogue, and really short chapters will ensure that you speed through it in no time. I believe it is also a standalone. If ever I'm craving another genuinely funny book, I will be sure to turn to Ned Vizzini's novels first.

Other Reviews:
Maji Bookshelf

Author Links:
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33 comments :

  1. I kept seeing this book popping up on blogs but didn't really pay any attention. But this book sounds hilarious, and so much fun! Thanks for the review. I'm adding it to my Goodreads now. I'll grab it whenever I'm in a mood for a fun, fast-paced book.

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    1. Cool, it's definitely good for that purpose! I found myself honestly laughing out loud and enjoying myself.

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  2. Great review- the first I've read for this one. It sounds like such a fun novel. I LOVE books that do humor really well. And seriously, I would love to visit Hogwarts. Oh, if only it was real...

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    1. Oh, I know, I feel like humour is kind of difficult to pull off right, so it was really well done. Who WOULDN'T love to visit Hogwarts?!

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  3. Have you ever played D&D? I wonder how closely it follows it. I've never played the game, but oddly, I've been wondering whether I would enjoy it lately. Maybe I should take of world of warcraft.

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    1. I've never played D&D before, but I've always wanted to try it. I know I would enjoy it because I am such a sucker for role playing games! I find them very addictive. Which is why it's best I stay away from WoW and similar games because that would be pretty much all I would ever do with my life from then on, I swear.

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  4. OMG Aylee, it sounds awesome! I totally know what you mean about suddenly bursting out with laughter in a public place because of a book. I used to see this in NetGalley but never thought about requesting it. Yes, I'm regretting it now. I just added this to my TBR! And if you're interested, you should read Carter Finally Gets It. It's the most hilarious book I've read to date (I'll see if this can top it) and should not be taken seriously as well. :)

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    1. Carter Finally Gets It, hmm? Thanks for the tip! I love a good laugh :) Not so much in public though, haha. I'm constantly regretting not requesting certain books before it's too late so I can relate!

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  5. Great review Aylee. I think this one sounds good. I don't think I've read very many fantasy books with lots of humor. Well, I guess the Percy Jackson series does have quite a bit of humor in it. I'm looking forward to reading this one and I'm so happy you enjoyed it.

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    1. I haven't read the Percy Jackson books myself, but I would say this one is probably even heavier on the humour. The plot was just SO ridiculous, that the humour was definitely the focus. I hope you love it if you get the chance to read it!

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  6. This sounds like such a fun read!! I love books that have me laughing in public places. :)

    Thanks for sharing! Your review is great!

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    1. I love them, too... but preferably not in public places :)

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  7. I haven't read anything of Vizzini's and wasn't really interested in this one since role-playing games (or books about them) aren't really my thing but you've convinced me to give this a try, Aylee. There aren't too many hilarious books so it's always nice to find one for a day when I'm not in the mood for anything serious.

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    1. Heh, well I hope you enjoy it then! Fair warning: it is fairly bizarre. But I really enjoyed it despite its strangeness. It really is the perfect "not in the mood for anything serious" type of read.

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  8. The book sounds nerdy but adorable! And yeah, like a dream come true too!
    :D Thanks for the review, I'm gonna put this in my wishlist :D

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    1. Yup, MEGA nerdy, but Perry is sweet and cute in his own way. Hope you enjoy this one!

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  9. This sounds so fun! I have read a few humourous books this year and loved them (Fang Girl by Helen Keeble and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride for example) So ever since reading those I have been on the look out for books that have a good story and can make me laugh a long the way.

    I like your last paragraph, I think comedic authors get some leeway on plot too, because it's just not meant to be taken seriously. Great review Aylee!

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    1. I haven't tried too many funny reads myself, but I'm thinking I should give more of them a try after liking this one! It kind of wouldn't be fair to punish this one for plot holes considering how ridiculous the plot really was.

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  10. Me!
    This sounds good.
    I love your honest reviews.

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  11. This one sounds great! I haven't read anything by Ned Vizzini, either, but the idea of getting to be a character in your favorite fictional world (yep, mine would be Hogwarts, too) is just the most awesome concept ever. Will definitely be reading this. Great review, and it's nice to visit your blog again. :)

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    1. Kat! It's nice to see you around these parts, as well :) And yeah, I just KNEW I was going to need to read this when I read that blurb and find out about the premise.

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  12. I could use a hilarious book right now, I haven't read one in a while Aylee! I've heard this book is fantastic, I think I'm going to love Perry in all his social awkwardness and geekiness. Can't wait:)

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    1. Yeah, I think you would enjoy Perry, as well! He really was a truly standout character among all the characters in books I've read this year.

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  13. Ooh, such a good concept! Gotta love a story with plenty of humor too. Fabulous review :)

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    1. Yeah, it had a lot of good things going for it!

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  14. #1 LOVE your blog title/design. I'm still in denial.
    #2 this book sounds awesome, great review, i'm gonna have to check it out now!
    #3 New follower :)
    #4 Harry Potter FOREVA!

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    1. WOO! Awesome, I'm always happy to find other Potter fans in denial!

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  15. We can sacrifice our first born children together, Aylee :) (just kidding, of course...I mean, yeah, just kidding...)

    I wish I enjoyed this book as much as you did. I agree, the world wasn't really supposed to be SOLID but it did still bother me a little that it was so flimsy. I also didn't click with Perry. It was funny overall though! I've heard this author's other books are very funny.

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  16. Bahaha, of course we're kidding...

    Yeah, the flimsy world building was what kept it from being a truly great novel, but I wasn't ready to persecute him completely for it. I really did love Perry though!

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  17. While I liked The Other Normals, Ned Vizzini's other books are some of my favorites. I rank them up with The Perks of Being a Wallflower and John Green. I would suggest Teen Angst? Naah... or It's Kind of a Funny Story if you would like to read more :) Great review by the way.

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    1. Good to know! I'll have to check them out sometime because I have heard good things about them, as well. Thanks!

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  18. I don't know what to say about this amazing book that I have read over 2 days that's how good it is. I highly recommend it to mature readers who are looking for something confusing but interesting.

    Jasmine
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