Monday, November 19, 2012

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

I picked up The Other Normals for Tai. Since he plays Dungons and Dragons (Creatures and Caverns in The Other Normals), I thought he might get a kick out of it. I hoped to read if I had time before it was due back to the library. I thought parts of it were funny but wasn't impressed overall.
Perry is a typical role playing teen. He doesn't think about much outside of Creatures and Caverns. He spends most of his time creating characters and adventuring by himself. Creatures and Caverns isn't a video game or online game. C&C is played with paper and pens and sometimes miniatures. C&C is usually played in a group where each member is different character. So for Perry to be playing alone, it's sad and probably a little difficult.
Community did a D&D episode which can give you some idea of how D&D is played. Tai pointed out it does show you how D&D is played but the characters are not role players and do a poor job of role playing their D&D characters. But you can see there is no board and it's just players, sitting around telling a story.
Perry's parents send him to summer camp so he learn how to interact with other kids his age and stop playing Creatures and Caverns. The camp is filled with bullies and Perry has a hard time fitting in. Then Perry meets Mortin who is from The World of Other Normals, a world filled with Creatures and Caverns creatures. Mortin brings Perry to The World of Other Normals and they embark on a quest. Here's where I started to have a hard time with the book. First I loved how detailed The World of The Other Normals was. Detailed and inventive, I loved being in The World of The Other Normals. But The World of The Other Normals is parallel universe. For each person on Earth, there is a correspondant in The World of The Other Normals. So sometimes Perry would do something because his correspondant did something in The World of The Other Normals. It got strange there for a while. The whole correspondant thing got to me. When Perry did something out of character and bizarre, it was because of his correspondant. There was one scene I couldn't imagine why Perry would do what he did. I struggled with that scene and I think it ruined the book for me.
I would recommend The Other Normals to older teens especially those who enjoy role playing type games, both boys and girls. Even though there is some "girls don't play role playing games" nonsense in there, I enjoyed hearing about puberty and being a teen from a boy's perspective. Others who shared their thoughts on The Other Normals: Good Books and Good Wine, Breathless Book Reviews, Buried In Books, Ashley Loves Book, and The Book Reaper.


  1. So as a warning, there are some death scenes that are fairly descriptive, so I think this book is more suitable for teens vs young children. I remember as a young teen making characters all the time before I was able to actually find a group, so I identified with Perry to a point. I have a hard time recommending this book as it just felt a little too 'meta' (kudos to those that know this reference). I do not dislike this book, it just felt a little mundane to me, and maybe that was the author's point.

  2. I'm not sure if this would be anything I would pick up or not but I did like reading your take of it.


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