Book Review: Extraordinary October

Extraordinary October
By: Diana Wagman
Published by: Ig Publishing
Release date: October 18, 2016
Genre: YA fantasy
264 pages
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher

Extraordinary October is a good read, though it doesn't quite live up to the adjective in its title. It might remind the reader of a group of books published about five years ago, featuring an ordinary female lead character who learns that she is "special", and who has access to a whole magical world that humans can't see. For a regular reader of YA lit, it will feel a little more familiar than you might wish for.

Though I usually like the discovery process of learning about a teen with previously unknown powers, I think the book lacked an adequate counterbalance to October's view of herself as being completely ordinary. The plot reveals why she is so special, but all of those reasons are matters of birth. There is one speech in which a character talks about her bravery, but it isn't a recognizable turning point. I would have preferred to see an eloquent passage where either October or another character talks about how she is extraordinary because of her choices and beliefs.

I disagree with the comparisons in the summary to Julie Kagawa and Holly Black. For the first several chapters, I was feeling like the book was more similar to Wings by Aprilynne Pike. When I got to to point where I felt like the really fun magical elements should have blossomed, however, the author was instead focused on driving the action forward. It was certainly a different book entirely from all three of the others mentioned- in fact, if the main character was about 12 or 13, it might fit well into the Middle Grade category.

Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the book well enough to finish reading it in two days. I was intrigued by the main character having ties to three different worlds, and very much appreciated the decision she makes in the end.  I like October, as well as some of her friends- and it was great to read about a teen character whose parents are a significant part of her life.  There is some really good material here that will likely be most appreciated by older Middle Grade or emerging YA readers.

October is an ordinary girl. From her plain looks to her average grades, there seems to be nothing special about her. Then, three days before her eighteenth birthday, she develops a strange itch that won’t go away, and her life is turned upside down. Suddenly, she can hear dogs talk, make crows fly, and two new and very handsome boys at school are vying for her affections. After she starts “transplanting” herself through solid rock, October learns that she is not ordinary at all, but the daughter of a troll princess and a fairy prince, and a pawn in a deadly war between the trolls and the fairies. Now October will have to use all of her growing powers to save her family, and stop a mysterious evil that threatens to destroy the fairy world.

In the fantastical vein of authors such as Julie Kagawa and Holly Black, Extraordinary October takes us on a magical journey from the streets of Los Angeles to the beautiful and mythical underground fairy kingdom.