Thursday, August 9, 2012

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

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Title: Obernewtyn
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Publisher: Random House Children's Book
Release Date: December 9, 2008
Pages: 244 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

Obernewtyn (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #1)In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. And for Elspeth Gordie, it is also dangerous. That's because Elspeth has a secret: she is a Misfit, born with mysterious mental abilities that she must keep hidden under threat of death. And her worries only multiply when she is exiled to the mountain compound known as Obernewtyn, where—for all her talents—Elspeth may finally and truly be out of her depth. Then she learns she’s not the only one concealing secrets at Obernewtyn.


Isobelle Carmody's standalone novel Alyzon Whitestarr was one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog nearly two years ago (almost two years now!) and since then, I've been interested in the series that made her so famous in Australia: the Obernewtyn Chronicles. This post-apocalyptic fantasy novel is a serious departure from what I'm used to and I enjoyed it, though the novel has its share of problems. It's difficult to put my problems into words for this one, but I'll try.

The novel's vivid worldbuilding kept me reading when I needed to pack and do other things, though I admittedly started skimming at the boring points. Elspeth came across as a relatable character to me and what she went through in various orphanages a a child believably shaped who she is in this novel. I got quite a bit of heart from the supporting characters as well, but I did expect a little more from them. It's understandable we didn't get to know them better, in a way; the iron fist of Obernewtyn's Master(s) kept them from being more open and letting both Elspeth and readers in. They're likely to get more characterization in future books.

Carmody began the novel when she was fourteen and it was first published in 1987, when she was in her late twenties, but there are places where stilted writing/dialogue and rough pacing give away how young she was when she began. As I said previously, I started skimming when things got boring and during some of the descriptions. Obernewtyn is short and that's exactly why I read this next over something else, but that also gives it two choices: cram a lot into a little book or allow a proportionately small amount of material into said little book. It went with the latter.

I have a feeling Carmody's Obernewtyn Chronicles is a series that is better when considered as a whole rather than as individual books, much like LJ Smith's books. I think I'll continue on with this series to see how the author improves and how the more subtle elements and forgotten plot threads of Obernewtyn will come back later (research on this series has taught me that everything is important and can come back books later to save the day), but I can't do it right now. Maybe one day.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins