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The Other Normals


The Other Normals

Fifteen-year-old Perry Eckert would argue that he is just like every other normal teenager in the world. So what if he skips school, eating, and sometimes sleeping to play his favorite role-playing game, Creatures & Caverns? So what if he lacks the social skills for basic interactions with others? Perry thinks he’s getting along just fine, thank you, and if you would leave him alone, he might actually get something accomplished --- in Creatures & Caverns, of course. Perry’s parents, though, think quite the opposite, and that is how his parents’ mandate to attend summer camp to meet other kids basically changed Perry’s life.

"Everyone wants to be a hero, and THE OTHER NORMALS might just inspire you to find a way to save the day."

By accident --- or perhaps not --- Perry discovers a portal at camp into the World of the Other Normals. Here he finds Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of Creatures & Caverns, and a world where his role-playing fantasies have become reality. Perry learns that everyone on earth has an opposite in the Other Normal world, and for this reason Perry has been selected for a special mission. The princess in the Other Normal world has been kidnapped and held captive. Her opposite happens to be at the same summer camp Perry is attending. The only way to free the princess is for Perry to return to earth and kiss her opposite. Easier said than done.

First of all, Perry would rather remain in the World of Other Normals. This is a world that he understands all too well. Why would he want to return to earth and to socially awkward teenage angst? Second, the chance that Perry could actually get close to a girl, let alone kiss her, is next to zero. He is a late bloomer, after all, and that means he is, ahem, a little underdeveloped. Still, Perry loves Creatures & Caverns too much to let a little thing like a lack of social skills get in the way, so he decides to accept the mission.

Thus begins Perry’s back and forth adventure between earth and the World of the Other Normals. Just like everyone has an opposite in the respective worlds, the events in each world also affect each other. Is it possible that the confident, self-assured Perry that navigates the Other Normal world could actually follow him to his real home, earth? Perry himself would probably say the chances are slim. We are talking about kissing a girl here. But he might as well give it a whirl. What has Perry got to lose?

It’s pretty easy to peg teenagers who immerse themselves in role-playing games as odd or weird, but after reading THE OTHER NORMALS, I’m pretty sure they can kick butt and save the world any day. After all, they’ve had plenty of practice. While the World of the Other Normals is fascinating, my favorite part of this book is Perry’s humor and the fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, even when he’s trying to be very serious. Everyone wants to be a hero, and THE OTHER NORMALS might just inspire you to find a way to save the day.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on November 27, 2012

The Other Normals
by Ned Vizzini

  • Publication Date: September 25, 2012
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • ISBN-10: 0062079905
  • ISBN-13: 9780062079909