The Other Normals

The Other Normals

4.0 5
by Ned Vizzini
     
 

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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. But that isn't happening—not if his parents have anything to do

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Overview

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. But that isn't happening—not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp. Perry knows 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. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and other mythical creatures from the game. 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. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well.

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Editorial Reviews

Lev Grossman
“THE OTHER NORMALS is wildly imaginative, incredibly funny, and weirdly wise. I don’t know where Vizzini gets this stuff —it’s like he’s tapped into the collective unconscious of alienated adolescents everywhere.”
R.A. Salvatore
“A fast-paced coming-of-age story with a fascinating premise which, to the great credit of the author, is seamless and strangely believable.”
ALA Booklist
“Perry is lovably awkward, and his goofy eagerness is offset by his bitingly funny observations…. Vizzini’s true strength is in authentically depicting the skills needed to survive growing up.”
The Horn Book
“[A] lighthearted yet bitingly funny fantasy … Through the protagonist’s incisive observations, rampant insecurities, and unapologetic embrace of nerd-culture, Vizzini depicts the teen male experience with authenticity and honesty.”
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY: “This book offers hope in a package that readers will find enticing, and that’s the gift it offers.”
New York Times Book Review
Praise for IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY: “This is an important book.”
The New York Times Book Review
Vizzini is gifted and keeps us engaged…he writes fiction that can be especially meaningful to a savvy, screen-bleary teenage readership. His sentences carry enough charge that an eighth grader might truly discover how a novel is not a movie made extremely cheaply, but an art form that brings its own unique splendors, including the power to explore interiority and consciousness.
—Sam Lipsyte
Publishers Weekly
In a departure from the realism of 2006’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Vizzini turns to fantasy with a twisted sendup of the alternate fantasy world genre. Fifteen-year-old Perry Eckert is obsessed with the D&D-style role-playing game Creatures & Caverns, to the point that his parents send him to summer camp to take a break from his obsession. There, Perry finds his way to the World of the Other Normals, a parallel world filled with fantasy creatures and danger. Flipping between worlds, Perry joins a band of stalwart rebels, embarks on a quest to save a lost princess, and tries to master his destiny. Sometimes funny, sometimes painfully awkward (Perry is so socially incompetent, he takes the stereotype of the nerdy, conversationally inept gamer to the extreme), this coming-of-age adventure captures the confusion and drama of adolescence. It lacks either the bite of satire or the earnestness of a more straightforward fantasy, leaving it somewhere in the middle, as out-of-place as Perry himself. Nevertheless, fans of surreal adventures like Libba Bray’s Going Bovine will appreciate the story’s odd appeal. Ages 13�up. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
The title immediately calls up the teen question: what's normal anyway? Can't the kid Perry be normal if immersed in a role-playing game? When the game leads him out of his "normal" world complete with divorced parents who only communicate through lawyers and a brother into heavy rock, drinking vodka on the subway at noon, and making fun of his kid brother while, sort of, watching out for him, into a parallel correspondence world, Perry is on his way to become Peregrine, Pekker Cland artisan, and even game maker and correspondence specialist Mortin Enaw. So, yes, this is a story about growing up and a story of trying out relationships to see if they fit. Even more, it's a story laced with humor, occasional wisdom, some heavy thinking that may make the thinker, in an alternate world, stink with sweat, and lots of derring-do, occasional slaughter, and even a little handholding and perhaps a kiss, of sorts. This imaginative exciting story may walk the reader right into some heavy thoughts and an occasional glimpse of insight into who s/he is and who s/he might become. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Marissa Wolf
Late bloomer Perry Eckert would rather create original characters and read manuals for his favorite fantasy role-playing game, Creatures & Caverns, than deal with the real world. As a result, his parents force him to attend summer camp. In the midst of bullies, delinquents, and girls across the lake who think he is a loser, Perry learns that the world from Creatures & Caverns is real, known as the world of the Other Normals, with a portal right there at camp. Perry meets fascinating creatures, some good and some evil, including the tiny, pebble-smoking Mortin Enaw and the beautiful and kind Ada. Perry is tasked with saving the kidnapped princess, but instead of going on an epic rescue quest, he must go back to the real world and kiss a girl on whom he has a crush. The world of the Other Normals has a fascinating backstory: it split apart from Earth six hundred million years ago, and every human has an Other Normals correspondent. A correspondent’s actions can affect the other or even change events and memories. The multiverse concept is a unique addition to a role-playing-game novel. Vizzini uses his intricately built fantasy world as a vehicle for Perry’s emotional and developmental growth. Readers, particularly males at a similar point in their lives, will identity with Perry on his journey to manhood. Vizzini has created a humorous and authentic portrayal of growing up. Reviewer: Marissa Wolf; Ages 12 to 15.
School Library Journal
Gr 7�10—Perry Eckert loves to read Creatures and Caverns rule books and make up characters, but he doesn't play with anyone. That changes when he meets Sam and creates a new character that is a ferrule-a humanoid with red skin, yellow hair, and a tail. When Perry begins to cut classes to play with Sam, his parents decide to send him to Camp Washiska Lake where he will have to interact with "regular" kids and be without his beloved game. Not long after arriving, Perry meets an actual ferrule and travels to the World of the Other Normals. The ferrule, Mortin Enaw, and his intern, Ada Ember, explain to him that our world and theirs correspond to each other so that actions in one affect the other. Mortin studies these correspondences and has determined that if Perry kisses a certain girl at his camp, then the princess of his world will be rescued from a giant snake/insect creature. Adventures ensue in the other world involving police with octopus tentacles instead of legs and frog-headed courtesans but, in the end, it is at the summer camp where events come to a head. Vizzini has created a likable geek in Perry and an interesting alternate world that could easily be the setting for more adventures. This book will be enjoyed by readers open to something that straddles the line between fantasy and science fiction.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Kirkus Reviews
A shy role-playing-game aficionado finds slaying monsters easier than kissing a girl in this appealing adventure by the author of It's Kind of a Funny Story (2006). In a desperate attempt to make him socialize, 15-year-old Perry's parents take away his RPG books and send him to Camp Washiska Lake for the summer. Perry mopes until he accidentally discovers a portal to the World of the Other Normals, where each creature there corresponds to one on Earth. He falls in with a group of quirky characters (including a sexy blue-haired elf) and learns that they need him to kiss a girl back at camp in order to set in motion a chain of events that will end up freeing her correspondent, the kidnapped princess of their world. Perry's game, but the real and imagined obstacles in both dimensions will put all his nerd skillz to the test. With a deft sense of humor and a keen ear for funny and realistic teen dialogue, Vizzini explores one teen everyman's quest to become a hero, one roll of the six-sided die at a time. Though the world building is thin at times, there are some moments of genuine pathos and terror, with the final climactic fight scene leaving plenty of room for sequels. Great geeky fun. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062079916
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/25/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
282,214
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

R.A. Salvatore
“A fast-paced coming-of-age story with a fascinating premise which, to the great credit of the author, is seamless and strangely believable.”
Lev Grossman
“THE OTHER NORMALS is wildly imaginative, incredibly funny, and weirdly wise. I don’t know where Vizzini gets this stuff —it’s like he’s tapped into the collective unconscious of alienated adolescents everywhere.”

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