Denise Grover Swank
Sixteen year old Julia
Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in
a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new
talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies
and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no
one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the
scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.
Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone
after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive
her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his
two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been
drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan,
he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still
alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
2 out of 5 stars
Here is the first book in the indie book series On the Otherside.
Julia was in car accident that killed her best friend and she has been barely living with that for the last six months. Then she "meets" Evan, the popular guy she's never talked to before but has suddenly taken an interest in her. Everyone who knows him says that he's acting differently since he disappeared a week earlier, but Julia is flattered by the attention. As she's becoming involved, the police show up looking for him. Instead of turning him in, she protects him and he offers her a way to see her dead best friend... but she is unprepared for where she ends up.
The author doesn't really make it clear about what the book's about until halfway through... however the prologue should give a big clue. By the cover- the reason I picked this one to read- it looks like it's about ghosts or some other paranormal entity. It's not. The cover does not in any way reflect what the book is ultimately about.
Actually, the book kind of felt like two different books put together. The first half was like a regular "girl meets boy with a dash of paranormal" story. This part was slow, with Julia slowly coming out of her depression and worrying about school and Evan's sudden interest. At this point I was suspecting where it was going to go but it wasn't advancing much. The second half was a dystopian story with nothing but action and a sudden love triangle. I did think this part was far more interesting, but also provided most of my hate for Julia.
And that brings me to Julia, who I don't think I can fully rant about without some spoilers...
What progresses this story is Julia's stupidity and failure to think before blindly following someone she's known for a week. At first Julia was fine but, at the halfway point, she becomes the most stupid girl on the planet. She knows that Evan is different than he was before. Everyone else knows that he's different. Then the police show up looking for him. Instead of turning him in like she should have, she lies and then goes to meet him when he calls. She inadvertently runs into the girl that was his girlfriend and she says that the police are saying there are two of Evan. While this is kind of weird, it should have let Julia know that something was wrong... yet she goes back to him and follows him when he tells her that she can see her dead best friend. She doesn't ask questions. Instead, because the police are coming, she just goes with it. Then, when she is captured and basically going to be put to death after being pumped for information about her world, she just can't hate Evan because he feels guilty. She can't even be mad at him. She feels bad for him for feeling guilty and absolves him of any responsibility. It doesn't matter that her execution and an invasion into her world is a direct result of Evan's selfishness and carelessness.
That brings us to the love triangle. While Julia lived through the car accident in her world, the Julia of Evan's died. He was her long-time boyfriend and just couldn't let go so he stole the gadget that would cross into an alternate world to get the living Julia. Julia says several times that she knows that he doesn't love her and only sees the other Julia, yet she keeps acting like it's real. Then she meets Reece, the other part of the triangle, and it's the same thing. Julia is so pathetically desperate for their love anyway that she accepts the love meant for someone else. Every one of them kept claiming they knew that Julia was not the Julia that died but none of them acted like it.
As a rule, I don't like these types of books. On top of that, I just couldn't get past the problem of Julia and her overwhelming stupidity. The book was an easy read, but dragged a lot in the first half. I actually stopped reading for several days just because it wasn't that interesting. While it picked up in the second half, it just wasn't enough to change how I felt about it. It ended with the setup for the next book, but I have no desire to read it.