Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: The Girl Who Never Was by Skylar Dorset

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The Girl Who Never Was (Otherworld #1)
   by: Skylar Dorset

Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Physical ARC received from BEA
Page Count: 304 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3/5 stars

THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.

I first saw this one sitting at the Sourcebooks booth at BEA and after seeing the pretty cover and finding out it involved the fae, I knew I was in. I love books about the fae and even more so when they incorporate the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The two Courts are fascinating to me, so I was looking forward to seeing how Dorset would put her own spin on the lore. Despite my issues with this one, I did end up liking it overall and am interested in the sequel.
I wasn't wowed by this book. In fact even at 31% I felt pretty meh about the book. If I didn't have the sequel to read, I probably would have thrown in the towel then. I have to say, I'm glad I didn't. I was bored for a good portion of the book, as it took so long to get to the good stuff. I understand world building is important, but I almost felt it wasn't the right kind. Yes, it's important to see how Boston is the hotspot to get to the Otherworld, but I could have done without a lot of the history we received. I would have rather Dorset really build up the Otherworld. The story does pick up however, and I found myself wondering how Selkie would get to the Otherworld to save Ben and face off against the mother she's never known... and wants her dead. There is a prophecy that states Selkie is one of four who will bring down the Seelie Court, so that added twist really helped beef up the story also.
While the storyline ended up becoming more enjoyable, unfortunately the characterization did not. I found it a bit hard to believe that Selkie just accepts who she is and this new world without a second thought. That always bothers me because if you're going to write a story set during modern times and disrupt a normal life, surely there should be a little freaking out and disbelief that another world with mythic creatures exists! I also wasn't crazy about the romance. I would have preferred more development there to make it believable. Ben is a guy Selkie has been crushing on and is one of her few friends that she looks forward to seeing in Boston Commons. I can understand a crush, but for her to declare feelings of love seemed a bit off, especially since we readers didn't see their interactions prior to the book starting. It was just hard to buy for me. I would have rather seen her falling for Ben. This book didn't quite reach the balance between character and plot development. I felt Dorset was more invested in telling the story than giving the characters' voice. They fell flat for me and where I should have been swooning over Ben, I just didn't. We can see he cares for Selkie, as he has been protecting her and would even risk captivity to do so, but the spark wasn't quite there.
While I wasn't blow away by this book, it did intrigue me enough to want to read the sequel. I really liked that Dorset included the lore that names have power and knowing one's full name could destroy their very being. The fae are a very clever and deceitful race, so I am curious as to whether or not Selkie will fulfill the prophecy or if she will be thwarted by someone close to her....

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  1. Oh I have this one so it is a shame to hear it didn't wow you. I'm a sucker for all things fae though so I'll probably still give it a shot but I'll be prepared going in. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. I picked this one up at BEA too. Not sure when I'm gonna read it, but I do want to give it a chance. Guess I'll just have to give through the boring first part. :/ Thanks for your honest review, hon!


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