CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 21. . . .February 6, 2015
Out of This World. (Wildlings, Book Three).
Charles de Lint.
Toronto, ON: Razorbill/Penguin Canada, 2014.
446 pp., hardcover, $21.00.
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
“Do you want to kill him?” she asks.
She has an interesting voice—girlish and throaty all at the same time—so it seems a little weird to hear her ask that so matter-of-factly. And then I start thinking about the torn-up remains of Vincenzo that we found earlier tonight. Josh literally ripped the body to shreds while in his Wildling shape.
“Dude,” I say. “Are you all so bloodthirsty?”
She blinks and gives me a blank look.
“Come on,” I say. “You’ve got to admit it’s a little freaky. You look like a cute little rasta girl”—that gets me another grin—“but you sound like Clint Eastwood doing Dirty Harry.”
“Is that a good or a bad thing?” she asks.
“Depends, I guess. For pretend it’s kind of hot. For real, it’s kind of scary.”
Out of This World follows Over My Head and is the third and final volume in the “Wildlings” fantasy trilogy about a 17-year-old high school student and his friends living in Santa Feliz, California, where they are experiencing the effects of an unusual phenomenon. Teenagers are turning into what is called “Wildlings” with the ability to shape-shift into actual animals. The main protagonist, Josh Saunders, can change into a mountain lion. The story is told through four viewpoints: Josh, his friend Marina, Des, a male buddy, and Chaingang, the large young man with strong street gang connections. Of the four, Des is the only one without Wildling abilities.
The story opens with Josh going into the alternate universes, known as the Otherworld, in search of a former girlfriend, Elzie, who is supposed to be in immediate danger. Josh explores his growing powers while his friends struggle with a huge anti-Wildling rally that threatens them with segregation and incarceration. Josh is considered by some of the old-line shape-shifter “cousins” as a possible leader and savior. Josh and the other Wildlings are targeted by those of the Old Ones who want to suppress the knowledge of the newcomers and return to their former hidden ways.
Set against the surfing culture, teenage romance and street gangs, the story takes the teens on a wild adventure alternating the un-worldly and mysticism with the normal problems of home and high school life. The opposition, whether rival gangs, politicians, or beings from the beginning of time and the universe, all have their own firm beliefs in the righteousness of their causes. There are no stock cardboard characters among the potential villains. The “resorting to violence vs calm discussion” is just one of the many themes explored.
The book, at 446 pages, is divided into several fairly short chapters. Instead of being numbered, they are identified by the name of the character whose POV the readers will be following: Josh, Marina, Des and Chaingang. As the players are often separated and following their own different story lines, this frequently gives the audience more insight than the characters have as to what is going on.
Out of This World is a well-written page-turner that arrives at a satisfactory conclusion. Even though the four main human/wildling characters are all teenagers, adults can also enjoy this interesting and fast-paced adventure.
Ronald Hore, involved with writers’ groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy in Winnipeg, MB.
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