I'm not quite sure how I came across this book, but as I was getting ready for a weekend trip last week, I shrugged my shoulders and slipped it into my purse for the long drive ahead.
Obernewtyn is a dystopian novel telling of a world that had been shattered by a gruesome chemical holocaust,leaving a zealous council in its wake. Overly cautious of anything different, the council holds a firm hand over "misfits" those born with unnatural abilities, being able to read minds, thoughts, or impressions. The council burns the unnatural misfits at the stake for the sake of religion, safety and peace.
Those who aren't burnt at the stake are sent to Obernewtyn, a facility far away in the mountains where "misfits" are taken in to be treated for their illnessess.
When Elsepth Gordie a "misfit" and an orphan is sent to Obernewtyn she discovers all is not as it may seem here in the mountains. What are the secrets held here between these walls at Obernewtyn, if these treatments for the misfits are so effective why hasn't anyone seen any cured misfits? Why didn't anyone who went to go see the doctor come back as they were before, and what did Rushton, the overseer of the stables have to do with anything up in the main building of Obernewtyn?
This book seemed to be held together with but a thread, precariously wrapped around storyline, character, and theme. It took me a while to get into the book, but got much easier as I continued to read. While not my favorite book it still held merit. The characters didn't seem as tangible to me. While yes I got to know Elsepth Gordie her trials and triumphs didn't seem as deep as they could've or should've been. The shock of having an ability that was so forbidden even to the cause of death at the stake or banishment to the fabled Obernewtyn never really registered to me through Elsepth. Yes there was fear there that she felt, but never really the horrified realization that I would suspect from someone in her position.
There were other characters I would've loved to know better and certain details I would've liked to get a better understanding of. For instance, the misfits and their abilities. Once you discovered that you were a misfit were you able to hone your powers automatically? Or did you have to be trained, schooled, and guided how best to use your abilities. It seemed with Elsepth and some other misfits that while their abilities were such a forbidden curse they still knew the intricacies about their abilities, what they could and couldn't do.
One particular incident stood out to me, Elsepth's brother was able to do something that seemed too far fetched to be believable so no one dared to, and yet in a moment of total despair and anger Elsepth put together her strength and determination and knew how it was done and simply did it. While yes this could've been just one of those moments that takes those leaps of faith, I would've liked to see her explore, slowly piece together the path or even unknowingly but faithfully deal her cards, but instead it was a light bulb that went off, a revelation that she just knew. So that little rubarb of debate is just one of taste, not really anything of stuff, just my preference with that little incident. I wish Carmody explored Rushton's character more, I wanted to laugh with Matthew and know Daemons story. I wanted to know Selmar and Cameo better, how they were before the doctor "treated" them and who exactly that creepy little Ariel was.
As I said before, while this book wasn't my cup of tea the story was still engaging, the mystery of Obernewtyn kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what secrets it held. The odd and sinister characters that I was able to meet from the fabled facility up in the mountains dutifully made my skin crawl. I read that Isobelle Carmody actually wrote this book while in high school and to that I salute. I don't think I could ever sit still long enough in high school to write more than ten pages, let alone a novel. Carmody has received many awards for her writing and has been cemented in the forefront of fantasy writers in Australia. Many have a special love for this series and to that I'm happy. There are many books that I admire and hold dear that are anything but and yet I still love them. I'm sure we all have some of those that we keep dear. So to all who love this series cheers! For those who don't you may pull up a chair and we can discuss, and for those who haven't read it yet but are curious check out the linkage.