Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

by Nancy Werlin
Release Date: September 7, 2010
2010 Dial Books
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3372-5
Hardcover Edition: 393 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada

3.5 / 5 Stars

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new girl at school.  Soon the two become as close as sisters...until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears.  Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe - but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

Soon she'll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay.  Will she be strong enough to resist?  Will she be special enough to save herself?

My Thoughts
I enjoyed Extraordinary and it was a fun read, but there were some elements that were disappointing in this novel.  I was not completely satisfied with the way some of the events, particularly towards the beginning and the end, played out, as things took a long time to get moving, and I was somewhat let down by the ending. 

While I found the novel to be beautifully written and intriguing, I also found it somewhat predictable.  And Phoebe, the main character, actually got on my nerves for quite a while.  Part of the problem may be me as I prefer my characters to be stronger and Phoebe was somewhat timid and had little self-esteem, which her two so-called friends Mallory and Ryland took great pains to destroy even further.  There were times when I just wanted to shake her and give her a backbone so she didn't capitulate all the time.  I really liked Mallory as a character and would have loved to know more about her, but she kind of faded in and out of the novel as Ryland made his appearance and I was disappointed by that.  She was fascinating and you could see the human development in her personality, something I would have loved to explore more fully.  Ryland however, made me sick and I was disgusted by some of the scenes he and Phoebe had together.  It had classic signs of emotional abuse, very scary.  I am really glad the sexual scenes were glossed over and not elaborated on as they would have made me ill.  I realize this was probably the author's intention, but it is still not easy to watch a character being manipulated like that.

Part of the problem I had with the novel is the cruelty towards Phoebe.  Even though she had some help from the faeries towards the end, I was disappointed that no one else rushed to her aid, despite everything she suffered at their hands.  And for Phoebe to be so forgiving...all I can say is she has a much better moral character than I do as I'm pretty sure I would find it difficult to accept and forgive if a 'so-called' friend did some of the things to me that happened to Phoebe. 

The novel itself was beautifully written and explored some philosophical and psychological issues of ordinary versus extraordinary that I particularly liked, how in moments of need any ordinary person can become extraordinary, so there is really no ordinary person in the world.  There were also undertones of emotional abuse and self-esteem issues that could be explored more fully in discussion groups.  Issues of healthy friendships and healthy relationships were also woven throughout the novel.

Although it may not sound like it, I truly did enjoy the novel Extraordinary.  I loved Impossible, and maybe that is also the problem as I don't feel this novel came close to that novel and I couldn't help but compare the two of them.  Whatever the case may be, I am looking forward to reading more novels by this author as I love her writing style and can't wait to see what else she can do.  I enjoy the world of the faeries and look forward to revisiting their world once again.


  1. Thanks for the review! I've been looking forward to this novel but have seen a lot of mixed reviews on it. I haven't read Impossible so I won't run into the same problem you did when reading this one.