“But to adjust, you must consider this all to be a foreign language you cannot decipher. “
As I meet new authors looking to make a name for themselves, I always see two things that they have in common. Number one, everyone I’ve met so far are incredibly determined and are proud as punch of what they have achieved with their own work. Number two, their plot ideas are (sometimes, quite literally) out of this world. Each so unique in their own way, and written so beautifully. I love it, and I love how much it helps me too!
My latest read was The Other Side by Justin Gladstone. This story grabbed my attention straight away over on Twitter. I’ve always found myself pondering the possibilities and “what ifs” of a parallel universe. This story explores just that – a glimpse of what life would be like on The Other Side.
The story begins by following the story of Leon, a teen with a big black cloud over his head. He’s believed by others to have committed an act, something which Leon has no recollection of. What is rather different about Leon is that he has another side to him. A side that he has no control over. I’ll be honest, after the first couple of chapters I knew the book would be an incredible journey. Not only with Justin’s way of writing, but by the overall experience; The Other Side isn’t just your average book.
I loved the odd pieces of artwork that are included sporadically throughout the pages. Picture this: you read a descriptive paragraph, building the image of this ‘thing’ in your mind. Then, on the next page, you see a drawing of that particular thing! Not only is the artwork great, but you can see first hand what the author had in mind (and if your mind’s constructions were close!) I’m not sure who drew the illustrations but whoever they are, they deserve a big pat on the back. 🙂
As well as the awesome art, I found another feature that I’d not yet seen before in a fiction book. QR Codes! I scanned the first one straight away with my phone and was led to even more great artwork. A great little touch for more interaction!
Chapter 4 is where things get even more exciting and involving. From this chapter, you’ll have the option to use Justin’s secondary book, Equilibrium & Chaos. This companion book explains the different conditions of The Other Side and gives examples of them too. Why is this so important and effective? Well, for one, it just shows how complex and detailed the main novel is. It also gives the reader a more in-depth and positive experience, more than anything I’ve ever seen before!
Another thing I absolutely must mention before we move on is Justin’s keen eye for detail. You’ve probably heard me banging on about character profiles and how important they are (in my opinion) to really getting close to those characters you create. It’s so clear that Justin knows his characters inside out! Mr Nert was a personal favourite of mine; you get a great character description very early on, including where you can usually find him and what he might be doing. Without actually saying the words, this description tells you exactly the kind of person he is, which is a very clever thing to be able to do.
So, the story continues into The Other Side, my absolute favourite part. As this part of the story developed, it reminded me of Stranger Things and ‘The Upside Down’; such a clever concept. Justin’s wording and explanation here is simply faultless. As always, no spoilers (no matter how much I want to tell you!) but I can guarantee it will mess with your mind, as it did with Leon’s! I couldn’t help putting myself in his shoes and thinking, “What if?” How would I react to a situation like this and how would it affect me? The first scene of Leon exploring The Other Side is possibly up there in my top 5. He knows something isn’t quite right and is confused with what he is seeing as he tries to make sense of it all. Seriously, grab a copy and see for yourself!
As we delve deeper into the story, it begins to get even darker and more intriguing. You find out more about Leon’s Other, the answer to the Voice. I’m aware all this sounds complex right now but oh my, you’re in for a treat! Hem, hem…back to it.
A whole new dimension is revealed, creating a multitude of questions you (and Leon) need answers to. You’ll notice that in this new world, the names of characters get a bit jumbled alongside the writing on paper, or on anything else for that matter! I think keeping on top of all these ‘new’ character names and terminology could have been difficult for our author here, but he manages to pull it off so well. It just works.
The overall novel covers a lot of bases and some sensitive topics that others may have experienced. These issues are explored in just enough detail and it isn’t overly graphic or informational. Just the right amount to help the story flow.
I could sit here for hours describing the ins and outs of this novel. I was so impressed with it. The special thanks and acknowledgements included in the book give you an idea of just how much work has gone into The Other Side and how much support and influence Justin has had over the years. To have your mind set on an idea and to go above and beyond to make that dream a reality is proof that you really can achieve your goals if you stick to your guns. Something I hope to do myself over the coming months.
A huge thanks to Justin for allowing me to read and review this downright awesome novel. Reading your work has made me even more excited to take part in NaNoWriMo this year! 🙂