A twist on the popular YA paranormal subgenre, Every Other Day promises its readers a “strong female protagonist,” action, romance, and comedy - does it deliver?
Thanks are due to EgmontUSA and NetGalley for allowing me to pre-read this title.
Ugh. That’s all I can say. Oh, and this: at least it doesn’t have some girl’s face on the front.
Title: Every Other Day
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Page Count: 352 (Hardcover)
Publishing House: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: 27 December 2011
Teenaged protagonist Kali D’Angelo is half-Italian, half-Indian. She’s also half-human, half-zombie-slayer. And half-shy, half-kick-your-butt. As the title would suggest, she spends every other day as an ordinary human girl - and every other other day as some kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blood-thirsty bounty hunter with an insatiable desire to decapitate paranormal creatures skulking in her neighbourhood. When pretty, popular schoolmate Bethany is marked for death by a parasitic paranormal creature called a “nibbler,” Kali has twenty-four hours to save her.
I’ve tried my best (and I think I’ve succeeded) in not spoiling the book, because a lot of the elements involved are supposed to come as a surprise. However, the basic gist of the book is that Kali spends one day as an average girl and wakes up the next morning with superpowers that last only until she wakes up the day following that. This is supposed to sound cool, I think, but it just sounded weird to me. I wasn’t so crazy about the premise, and I was worried about how Barnes would handle this and whether her explanation for the “superpowers” would be good enough.
The plot involves her attempting to discover who, or what, she actually is, while saving the life of this cheerleader named Bethany as well - all under a time limit. Now, the plot of the book was pretty tight. The pace was good, and the “time bomb” element helped to manage that. There were twists and turns and a lot of things I definitely wasn’t expecting to happen. I didn’t think she really pulled off the “every other day” thing - her explanation was flimsy and weak to me - but aside from that I really liked the fast-paced, action/adventure-driven plot. There was a little romance, but nothing that really bogged down the story. And I appreciated that.
My major problems with the book come in terms of the characters. At first, I loved Kali. She’s snarky, she’s clever, she’s a teenaged girl who kicks zombie butt. What more could you really want? I thought her voice was really unique.
Then I realized that it totally wasn’t.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a snarky, clever teenaged butt-kicker as much as the next YA reader. And Kali was like that.
But so was everyone else.
Her friend Skylar, characterized as naive, chirpy, annoying and adorable? Well - that’s what Kali tells us she’s like. In reality, she sounds exactly like Kali.
Bethany, characterized as a spoiled, ditzy cheerleader? Again, that’s what Kali TELLS us she’s like. But she acts exactly the same as Kali.
I like spunk, okay? I like snark. But every line that came out of every character’s mouth sounded like it was coming from exactly the same person. They were all exactly the same, wrapped in differently coloured packages. Kali’s narration is telling us one thing, but the characters turn around and behave exactly the way Kali would and speak exactly the way Kali does. This is just poor characterization. Not everyone is snarky, clever, and kick-ass. While it’s fun to have characters like that, don’t tell me one thing and show me something else. People don’t all speak and behave the same in real life. I know there’s only one Jennifer Barnes writing this book, but the idea is to create the illusion that there’s more than one distinct personality at work here.
The writing, aside from this huge glitch, was something I really loved about this. Everything from the sarcasm, to the pacing, to the really direct, no-nonsense-no-frills-no-adjectives prose was really great and added a lot to the action movie sort of atmosphere. That’s one of the things I like about boy books - and while this isn’t a boy book (the paranormal subgenre stamp and female main character are probably enough to steer a lot of young boys away from this, sadly) it reads like one in spots. And I like that.
This was, all told, a solid read. The characterization bugged me a lot. But aside from that, this was a really fresh take on the done-to-death “paranormal” subgenre of YA fiction. It had dragons and explosions and car chases and snark, and I love these things. Solid read, especially if you love the paranormal but are tired of the “ZOMG a hot demon boy goes to my school” plotline.
Premise & Originality: 0.5 Stars
Plot: 1 Star
Characters: 0 Stars
Writing: 1 Star
Enjoyability: 1 Star
Total: 3.5 / 5 Stars