Book Review: Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

Obernewtyn Title: Obernewtyn
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter
Publisher: Penguin Books

In a world struggling back from the brink of an apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities that would see her sterilised or burned if discovered, it is also dangerous. There is only survival by secrecy, and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers. But it is as if they have their own imperative, and their use inevitably brings her to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the land.
Sent to the remote mountain institution of Obernewtyn where escape is impossible, she must throw off her safe cloak of concealment and pit herself against those who would resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse. Only then will she learn most truly who and what she is…

About The Author:
Isobelle Carmody began the first of her highly acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles while she was still at high school, working on it while completing a Bachelor of Arts, and then a journalism cadetship. The series, and her short stories, established her at the forefront of fantasy writing in Australia.
She is now an award-winning author of several novels and many short stories for children and adults. Isobelle divides her time between her home on the Great Ocean Road in Australia and her travels abroad with her partner and daughter.”

Things I Liked:

  • Characters: The cast of Obernewtyn are as complicated as they are intriguing. While I do like Elspeth, Rushton is my favourite character thus far.
  • Description: Excellent world building, which can be difficult to pull off in the first book of a series, a great mixture of description and narrative
  • The Plot: Interesting and detailed with added twists. I also liked how while Isobelle Carmody wasn’t afraid to kill off characters, the backlash of character deaths were realistic and the deaths were relevant to the plot. Looking forward to how the Misfits deal with The Council in future books.

Things I Didn’t Like or Could Be Improved:

  • Mixing of Tenses: There were a few chapters where the past and present tenses were mixed. I had to read a few chapters multiple times to figure out what was going on. I also do not like the usage of ‘Little did I know…’ in a book.
  • The Council: it’s difficult to write religious extremists well, there’s sometimes a fine line between a well written Knight Templar and a Straw-man Fundamentalist. I’ll see how it goes in later books.
  • Plot problem: In the book, a group of older misfits congregate together, which confused me. The orphanages are being checked for the “Misfit Condition” on a regular basis and the vast majority of misfits are children. Even though the “Misfit Condition” is able to develop later, like say 16, then whom was checking the older adolescences? Is it simply a case of lack of knowledge over what causes the abilities to develop? Or was Madam Vega not bothering to check children over a certain age? I just found it difficult to believe in this society, that essentially spies on each other and is so paranoid about the “Misfit Condition”, a large group of teenagers slipped through the cracks and went by unnoticed until it drew too much attention.

Overall, an  enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

The series:
Book One – Obernewtyn
Book Two – The Farseekers
Book Three – Ashling
Book Four – The Keeping Place

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