cover image The Other Normals

The Other Normals

Ned Vizzini. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-207990-9

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.)