Author: Nancy Werlin
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Genre: Teen/YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Phoebe has always been one of the “popular” girls, even though, deep down, she’s always been aware that the only reason they allow her in their crowd is because of her historic and famous last name, Rothschild. The last name Rothschild equates with money and power, and Phoebe’s parents have both. But as Phoebe looks at her friends, she sees things that she doesn’t like and resolves to change her ways. Then Phoebe meets the mysterious and odd Mallory Tolliver, and the two quickly become inseparable. But what Phoebe doesn’t realize is that Mallory is not what she seems, and Phoebe is about to be drawn into a conflict that will determine the fate of the faerie kingdom.
I’ve heard good things about Nancy Werlin’s Impossible, so when I was offered Extraordinary for review, I jumped at the chance. It’s written in the same vein as Impossible, but isn’t a sequel; in other words, the books are about the same sort of world but can be read in any order. After reading Extraordinary, I am determined to go back and read Impossible because it was just that great!
In a world where teens are having such mixed messages thrown at them, and many books aimed at them have questionable themes, Extraordinary was a breath of fresh air. It tackles the question of ordinariness. What does it mean to be extraordinary? Who determines whether a person will be ordinary, or will somehow break out of that detested shell. And what’s so wrong with being ordinary anyways? As Phoebe struggles against the burden of her family’s name and the pressure she feels to become something great because she is a Rothschild, she asks herself these questions. In the end, what makes someone extraordinary?
The friendship between Phoebe and Mallory is sweet, and it’s so sad that the reader knows from the very first page that it can’t last. Even though Mallory has been sent for a purpose, she truly cares for Phoebe. Does that mean they are really friends, though? Extraordinary calls up themes of loyalty and makes the reader question the true nature of friendship.
The faerie world that Werlin created is tantalizing. The reader only gets hints of it as the novel progresses; I’m hoping that she will return to that setting and expound more on it in future books, as it is very creative and interesting. Additionally, Werlin is a talented writer and that shines through on every page of Extraordinary.
Extraordinary is a powerful book that will appeal to both teens and adults alike. If your book club is looking for an easier read that is still deep and thought provoking, this would make a great pick. There are a lot of issues and themes running through this novel and they would make great fodder for discussion.