Other (Other #1)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Gwen Williams has been hiding a strange and fantastic secret: she's a shapeshifter. Although society may tolerate vampires, centaurs, and "Others" like Gwen, there are plenty of folks in her small
town who don't care for her kind. Washington
When a new werewolf pack moves into the area, tensions rise—and Others start showing up dead, including someone close to Gwen. Despite the methodical murders, the police are ignoring evidence that suggests a serial killer. In the midst of terrible loss and danger, Gwen—along with a mysterious and sexy guy who happens to be a Japanese fox spirit—risks her life to find the murderer. But Gwen is already the killer's next target . . .
Other was a book I devoured in one day. This was due to the fact that I could not put it down and it is somewhat short. Now Other has the potential to be a long series, and usually I have a hard time getting into long series (Four books is around my limit and then I usually lose interest, exceptions being the books of my childhood such as Nancy Drew), but Karen Kincy has created a very unique and interesting world in a very diluted genre. She includes not just Vampires and Werewolves, but also Pookas, Kitsune, Dryads and Leprechauns. The world is not quite our world as these things are known to everyone and is even put on Licenses for identification purposes.
What ends up happening is that this world ends up being a twist on bigotry and racism. Gwen keeps quiet about her half Pooka heritage and is afraid of people finding out. Her history includes lynching of Others (the name for those who are not human) and a society/cult that has a history of killing Others just for being what they are. At the same time it deals with a girl growing up and issues that girls her age do deal with (such as sex) and death.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised by how thought out this setting was.
One thing that did bother me is a total personal issue and has nothing to do with the writing and that is the use of e-mails and IM. For some reason my brain creates a lag in books, they must not include the most modern of technologies or I get the willies for some reason. Maybe it would feel less awkward to me if the IMing was done in dialogue format as opposed to looking like straight copy and paste from an IM browser.
Also I thought all the hints about Tavian were a bit too opaque. From the description in the back we know he's a Kitsune from moment one, just because most people make the Japanese connection, but then on top of that all the fox puns and pictures that the writer connects with him and the shadow of a tail.
I did not guess that Ben was the major villain until near the end, so applause to Kincy for completely blindsiding me! I thought the whole thing was dealt with quite well and I enjoyed hearing the way his brain worked. It also falls very much into the fact that many serial killers are very charming people.
Also, I really liked how Zack and Gwen's relationship was handled. Zack's reaction, although heartbreaking, at the same time seemed quite realistic for the situation he was raised in. It shows a lot of unconscious prejudices that may be in the back of people's minds even if they don't want them there. Since he found out, Gwen has become "different" yet we all know she is the same person that she had been when she had been with him the entire time. It's frustrating.
But he's not a bad guy, and that's quite readily revealed at the end when he confronts his brother and helps to save Gwen. It is an unconscious prejudice, he doesn't want to think that way and because Gwen is someone he cares about he goes ahead and thinks a lot about it, which I commend.
I have already put the second book in this series on hold, because I am truly excited to explore this world a bit more. The book focuses on different characters but this world is what I've fallen in love with the most from the book. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the recent boom in urban-fantasy/paranormal, and especially to those who enjoyed the boom but became very tired of the same old, same old. This is unique and that's what I like most about it.