The Otherlife by Julia Gray

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The Otherlife by Julia Gray

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A powerfully written tale of teenage instability, depression and escapism intertwined with Norse mythology.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2016
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1783444229

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Ben's life is pretty tough at the moment; between his constantly fighting parents, the stress of exams, and everyone's ridiculously high expectations of him, he's feeling pretty overwhelmed. But Ben also has a strange gift: he can see the Otherlife, where ancient Norse myths and legends are recreated, and a place of escape for him. When Ben meets Hobie, a charismatic born mischief-maker with everything he could ever want, the two become fast friends. But Hobie longs to be a part of the Otherlife and is prepared to do anything to become one with it...

When I first opened up the book, I didn't really know what I was expecting. I could tell by the blurb that this was going to be quite a dark book, but I didn't really expect it to be this dark or mentally demanding. It's a good book, nevertheless.

The protagonist is Ben, a sensitive teenager very into heavy metal and reading about Norse mythology. After a rather severe head injury, he has been addicted to painkillers. His best friend is Hobie (short for 'Hobart') Duvalle, the son of rich high-society parents, who has forever lived in luxury and is surprised by the rather simple lifestyle that Ben and his parents have. They both attend a very high-class school

The narrative is split between Ben's perspective, in the exam period of 2012, and Hobie's diary, in late 2008. The two complement each other very well, with Hobie's rather snobby and tough tone balancing out Ben's softer, more sensitive tone. They also help to accelerate the development of the plot, giving context to past events.

Ben's ability to see the Otherlife is not really central to the story; it's more that it provides a sort of symbolism, (Odin symbolising Ben, Loki symbolising Hobie). The steady progression of the myths as Ben sees them helps to show the advance of the story, and its inevitable conclusion on the day of Ragnarok.

Overall, this is a well written and sad story of teenage instability, depression and escapism ingeniously mixed with Norse mythology.

Further reading:

Afterlight by Rebecca Lim – another story of teenage trauma, with some fantasy elements mixed in.
Never Ending by Martyn Bedford – a similar story of teenage guilt and instability.<br?> Die For Me by Amy Plum for the mythology.
Owen Pendragon by W S Markendale for even more mythology.

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Buy The Otherlife by Julia Gray at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Otherlife by Julia Gray at


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