Pants Free Fantasy – A Review of The Other Normals by Mark Vizzini

This was not a nudist fantasy book! Don’t let my title fool you – there was just a lot of instances which involved the main character not wearing pants.

That didn’t sound any better.

Loincloths! The MC wore loincloths a lot! There, I made it better.

In the two months I took to read this book, there were a lot of mixed feelings towards this book.

When Perry Eckert is forced to abandon his fantasy role-playing game sanctuary for a summer camp for teens, he hates the environment as soon as he is pushed into it. That was, until, he follows a creature from the game into the World of the Other Normals. He learns that this world is parallel to his own, and must learn the connections between the two to save their world and change his own life.

This was an interesting concept to take on, particularly for me as I enjoy the exploration of multiple universes in fantasy contexts. The world building of the fantasy area was done well. Everything in that world had its place and purpose. I didn’t once have a moment where I thought the information was just to show off the world. The main characters were defined well along with their abilities. Those two components made the entire experience enlightening. The voice and perspective of Perry definitely showed that in the parallel world, and you could feel his wonder of the world too.

However, I found a lot of issues with pacing in this novel. The book was divided into nine parts based on their respective location, and the chapters within those were short and felt unnecessary to be split up the way they were. The entire first part was an absolute drag, and had me not pick the book up again for three weeks solely because I was anticipating the rest of the book to go on slowly. We didn’t even see a character from the parallel world at the end of it. It didn’t feel right for an entire part to be used to show the issues that Perry was having and what the people around him thought of it. This left some of the scenes in the fantasy world feeling somewhat rushed in comparison. Notably, a key piece to the final battle was left to another character explaining what happened in a paragraph.

Character I Loved

This goes out to Ada Ember, the leading female and well deserving of the title! The feminist in me was charmed by her fighting strength. I would call her the best fighter in the book, actually. But, unlike most badass females in fiction, she strayed from the stereotype with her chipper personality. Her first impression was not of innocence or stoicism, but a quirky understanding towards Perry when they meet. It was a fantastic portrayal of the rare combination.

Character I Loved To Hate

This is kind of multiple characters. I hated Perry’s parents the most, if they even deserve that title. Everything about their actions screams their blindness towards everything that Perry experiences. For one thing, both have their own lawyers that interact more with Perry than they do. It barely even feels like they care for him and his brother, making less of a fuss over his alcohol addiction than his brother’s lack of social skills and true masculinity. Their care for their children feels mandatory, like “Hey, we created you so I guess you are kind of a priority for us”. A tip for future parents – lawyers don’t show that too well.

Favourite Chapter

Due to their length, I’m using a part number instead. Part 4, titled Subbenia, takes the prize home. This is our first proper look at the parallel world, and it was orchestrated well along with the tension and the fighting. It was a very thrilling arc to take up.

Favourite Serious Quote

“I picked Ember. After I started working with Mortin.”


“Because embers turn into flames.”

The power! As Ada explains her choice of last name after being taken care of, this was just such a powerful message. This won me over for having Ada as my favourite character.

Favourite Not So Serious Quote

“What are you, racist?”

A running joke used in the context of both worlds. It’s just amusing seeing the assumptions being made everywhere.

Overall Verdict

While a slow start, once you dive into the body of this take on YA fantasy, you’re in for a pleasant swim.

The Other Normals gets a score of 3.5/5.

Yours in writing


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