Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: 'OtherWorld' by Evan Ronan

New Jersey author Evan Ronan is enjoying exploring a spectrum of genres for his novels – a paranormal thriller series, historical fiction, and YA/middle-grade, sci-fi and mysteries – of which OTHERWORLD is representative.

YA/middle-grade novels are a special challenge for writers – create a fantasy that is credible enough to relate to what is happening around the reader and at the same time provide that elixir of escapism into worlds such as Harry Potter or Hobbits. Evan has found a comfortable ground, primarily because he writes so well. Fine writing is readily detected among young readers who can be a very critical audience.
But open a new book (with an outstanding cover, by the way – a perfect prelude to what is to follow inside) with writing such as this and it is likely a sure thing that the reader will stay to the end: ‘One moment she wasn’t there. The next she was. A swirl of wind created a person-sized cyclone of emerald green and ruby red. The clouds thinned and within them the Woman in Green began to appear. The cyclone slowed and wispy tendrils became two legs, two arms, and hair. The wind died down and she stood there. She was wearing a different dress, but it was green like all the others. Her almost-red hair shined in the sun and she stood just in front of the stream that edged the school’s property. Her face lit up when she saw me. “Aoife!” She was the only person, other than Dad of course, who knew how to say my name without having to be told first. Eef-uh. I was already mid-stride when the Woman in Green waved for me to come over. Only five minutes of recess left, then it was off to math. I cherished my time with her— she was the coolest!— so I booked it. I crossed the baseball field where Slob was playing kickball with the other kids and zipped by the old jungle gym where Killer went to be by himself. It wasn’t weird for me to go off on my own so nobody paid me any mind. I did it all the time and everybody knew I was the biggest daydreamer in the whole school. The Woman in Green gave me a big hug.’

The synopsis that Evan provides is well drawn: ‘Aoife Finley is bursting at the seams with creativity. No one daydreams better than her and her imagination knows no bounds. Mr. Peterson is old, his best days long behind him. He yearns for the past, mistrusts the present, and fears the future. But he's just figured out how to recapture his past: By stealing other people's imaginations. (!) Armed with only her creativity, imaginary friends, and a few bickering classmates, Aoife embarks on an amazing, but dangerous journey into the otherworld that she created, a place that is slipping more and more out of her control and into Mr. Peterson’s, before the real world as she knows—and as it could be—disappears forever. OtherWorld is a YA fantasy adventure about the power of the imagination and how anything is possible.’

Evan Ronan is well on his way to being a successful novelist – and if he can continue to write with such flavor as in ‘OtherWorld’ we’ll probably be seeing his name in the media frequently. Grady Harp, September 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.