Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are you Extraordinary?

Nancy Werlin's Impossible was so good, I had to get Extraordinary. The same vague description, the same steady unveil of vital plot information, and the same supernatural culprits. The story is certainly different from the first book, and not at all a sequel, but you will certainly notice some similarities from the start of the book.

Phoebe Rothschild is a normal girl from an extraordinary family. From the earliest Rothschilds down to her mother, the entire family is quite simply extraordinary, but Phoebe just wants to be normal. She has a hard time dealing with the attention that comes with being a part of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the world. When Mallory Tolliver arrives in seventh grade, Phoebe is immediately drawn to her. Mallory is odd, eccentric, and Phoebe instantly becomes her best and only friend.

The reader, however, knows Mallory has an ulterior motive. With little snippits of conversations with the Queen, we know Mallory was planted there to meet Phoebe specifically, but we have no idea why and what the Queen has planned for Phoebe. When years pass and it seems Mallory can't bring herself to do what she there for, her half-brother Ryland arrives. Ryland is enchanting, but rude at the same time. Phoebe can't stop thinking about him, but she somehow feels there is something wrong about the horrible things he says to her, like how she is fat, ordinary, and not particularly important. When Mallory finally confronts Phoebe about dating Ryland (a wicked plan cooked up by Ryland and the Queen), Phoebe runs straight into the arms of Ryland to be consoled. While in their house, though, she opens his bedroom door only to find an enchanted garden behind the door- a garden that can't possibly be there but certainly is.

The truth quickly comes out that Ryland and Mallory are faeries. A curse was placed on Phoebe's family and the faeries need her as a sacrifice to restore their power and their kingdom. But when she still doesn't want to know about it, Ryland creates an accident that leaves her mother in a coma and Phoebe without much choice. As she enters the Faerie World, she knows this is the end of her ordinary life, as the curse stipulates, but she still can't lose that bit of extraordinary that floats through her veins like the ghosts of all her ancestors. Knowing the faeries are dying because of the curse, will Phoebe be willing to sacrifice herself to the very people who have tricked her for years?

I think the downfall of reading this book directly after Impossible was that they were too similar and Extraordinary just wasn't as good. I think if I had read them a few months apart, I might have liked this book better, but it just didn't stack up to the first book. The slow but well-paced reveal of information was still there, but the information revealed wasn't a surprise anymore- it was essentially the same story as Impossible, just tweaked a little. The book became much more predictable than the first story.

This is a decent story for a junior high to high school student. There are some interesting morals to be discussed with any young woman. I was particularly angered by the things Ryland said to Phoebe about her being so ordinary. I know they were part of him trying to fulfill the curse, but instead they just really ticked me off. If I was reading this book with a student, I would definitely have to use that as a teaching experience. It would be too hard to just let it lie there. Otherwise, this is a decent book. It's an interesting enough read and should keep the reader interested. Maybe next time Werlin can mix it up a bit? Not be so formulaic?

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