Friday, April 27, 2012

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Hardback : 390 pages
Genre: Teenage Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Dial Books, Penguin Group 2010
Source: Won in a Prize Draw hosted by blogger Len Lambert and donated by another blogger Theresa Milstein
First Sentence: "You are ready for your mission, then, little one?"
Review Quote: 'A bittersweet fairytale' - School Library Journal
My Opinion: I liked it more than I expected to.

I am not a fan of the genre called Teenage Fiction as generally I prefer to think that children know at very different ages when they are ready for titles that are considered adult fiction. surely life was much simpler when it was books for children or adults so we could choose for ourselves. I know I am very much in the minority on this though so will say no more. I would never have purchased this book but I do consider it to be well written and appropriate its intended market.  Older children that do not yet feel ready to read adult fiction, but I do also realise that many adults frequently read the Fantasy Fiction genre from choice. Another genre that regular readers here will know I am not overly keen on, although I have been sent a few to review and found them better than I expected.  I guess this title comes into that category because actually despite  the Faerie element it is a readable story of love and loyalty between two best friends. Also weaved into this is an interesting family history, as Mayer Rothschild, his wife Gutle and their five extraordinary sons were real.  Catherine and her daughter Phoebe were fictional additions to the family which is why the author is deliberately vague about these characters connections to the famous Rothschild's.

In the novel the main protagonists are Phoebe Rothschild and from the Fairy Kingdom Mallory and Ryland who over a number of years try to manipulate Phoebe into doing something solely for the interests of  the survival of their kingdom. For years Phoebe has listened to her parents telling her she is 'extraordinary' but her life is going to depend on her admitting that she is in fact just 'ordinary',  It all started when Phoebe was in the seventh grade at school and decided to befriend the strange new girl Mallory,  that is in need of friends to help her settle in. Over the years the two of them become very close like sisters in fact and Phoebe's mother helped as well with organising care for Mallory's mentally unstable Mother. The sudden appearance of a previously hardly mentioned brother, Ryland is accepted with little surprise because Phoebe finds herself strongly attracted to him. She accepts his demands to keep their relationship a secret and puts up with all sorts of psychological verbal abuse from him, only because she is so smitten.  One day she finds out something that she just cannot begin to explain, although the reader can. 

Enough said to tempt you and help you decide if you would like to read this one, yet not enough to spoil it for you. I reiterate this novel is well written and I did like it enough to admit it was better than I expected. Worth reading if it is in your comfort zone or if like me you are happy to try something different from time to time.

                                            Book Trailer For Extraordinary - No spoilers.
                                         Uploaded by  on Sep 21, 2010

Author Profile - Nancy Werlin

Nancy Werlin was born and grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, USA and now lives near Boston. She received her bachelor's degree in English from Yale.  Since then, she has worked as a technical writer and editor for several computer software and Internet companies, while also writing fiction. She was a U.S. National Book Award finalist for 'The Rules of Survival' in 2006, and won an Edgar Award for ' The Killers Cousin' in 1999.

Biographical and other information including photos and videos are courtesy of the following websites and from the book itself.

YouTube,  Goodreads Author Profile   Nancy Werlin - Official Website

I have chosen to read this title as the letter E for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.


  1. My daughters love stories about fairies. I will tell them about it, and I might read it, too. It sounds good, and I like that it is about remaining loyal to friends.

    I enjoy reading young adult novels if they are well written. I read them because I want to know what my girls are reading. I do not blog about every one I read, just the ones that are *great* :D

    Thanks for another excellent review!

  2. Thanks Ricki Jill from your comments above I think this a novel you would probably all enjoy.

  3. Hi Linda,

    I am with you in your opinions about YA literature. On the whole, I can see very little difference between much of the YA writing and adult books.

    I do get YA books sent to me for review and I am quite happy to do so. On the whole the standard of writing is quite good, although much of the content seems to be from the fantasy genre, which isn't one of my favourites.

    I can remember, as you probably can, that libraries here in the UK were divided into two separate sections, 'Childrens' and 'Adults'. You moved straight from one, into the other, without the need for any interim reading ability group for 'Young Adults'. How times change!

    Hope that your computer problems are fixable and hope to speak again soon.


    1. I definitely can remember Yvonne as my career background is libraries and feel that young readers vary in age considerably as to when they are ready for adult fiction, but let them decide for themselves. Why do we need a label? Like you I have been getting requests to review this genre and like you they are mainly this type of fantasy novel! I think the computer problems are going to take time to resolve but thank goodness I have the i-pad although I seem unable to blog successfully from it.


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