Series: Otherworld #1
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Book Trailer: View Trailer
Published by Sourcebooks on June 1, 2014
Reviewed by: Libbie
Minimal, references to kissing
THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?
When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.
Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.
Where to start? I’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for a few minutes now, trying to figure out how to put THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS into some sort of coherent thought, but it’s not easy. It’s a pretty good parallel, now that I think about it, because that’s what I felt the entire time reading it.
The story is simple enough, young girl who thinks she’s normal but isn’t and slowly finds out that the world she thought she lived in isn’t the one she lives in at all. Danger, adventure and romance ensue. For me, this should be slam dunk hit. And maybe it would have been if I could have connected more with the story.
THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is told in first person present tense which can be difficult, sometimes jarring, to read, but I’ve seen it work and work well in other books – The Hunger Games comes to mind. In this book, however, it doesn’t. She’s thinking and acting in the present, but the lack of contractions makes it overly formal and less conversational.
I did like Ben almost to distraction. I loved the Threader and Will, and I liked the way the Seelie Court had that casual cruelty I’ve come to expect when dealing with the fae (referred to as “fay” in this world.) There’s just something about that faery (fairy) cruelty that both repels and intrigues me and Mother has it in spades.
There isn’t much more I liked, though. I didn’t connect with Selkie, in part because she came off in both thoughts and actions like she was more thirteen than seventeen. I’m also still trying to figure out the sudden revelation about her romantic feelings because there was almost no indication of anything close to affection before that. I spent a lot of time during the middle Plot Exposition Section trying to piece together the world-building and I’m still not sure I understand it. I get that Selkie is supposed to be confused and that makes sense – the problem is that when the reader is as well, it makes for a klunky story.
I’m still on the fence over whether or not I’ll return for the second book. Ben is a pretty strong pull, because he is delightfully adorable, so that might be enough to draw me back.
1. The Girl Who Never Was