Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

6

February 6, 2012 by Heidi

Book cover of Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Title: Every Other Day [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes [Website|Twitter]

Standing: Stand alone novel.

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Sci Fi
Published: December 27th, 2011 by EgmontUSA
Format: Hardcover; 329 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Every other day, Kali is a normal human girl; but every other day, she is something else entirely.  Since puberty, Kali has had the experience of change every day at dawn from girl to…well she’s not quite sure what.  She only knows she is a hunter, with the drive, instincts, and skill to track and kill preturnatural beings like hellhounds, basalisks, and zombies.  She can locate any weapon, heal incredibly fast, and her blood is poison to the creatures she fights.  When Kali notices a distinct marking on one of the cheerleader’s backs, indicating that a chupacabra has marked her for death, Kali knows her only option is to lure the creature to attack her instead…hopefully she’ll last till dawn when she’ll have the power to kill it.  

So let me give you three reasons why I was doing mental cartwheels after finishing Every Other Day:

    1. The character names were awesome, best of the year so far.  I mean it takes some serious balls to name your half-Indian kid “Kali”, and I mean that in the most I-tip-my-hat-to-you-madam kind of way.  Oh, and did I mention that she’s half-Indian?  Yay for multicultural main characters!
  • It’s not a series!  I feel like it is so rare to find YA lit in any genre other than contemporary that doesn’t come as a set.  I found the existence of Every Other Day as a stand alone so refreshing.  Though I’ll be honest, I picked this book up because Melissa Marr was talking about it and she wants us all to bug Jennifer to write more and I am so on that team!  I would love to read a sequel, or even another story set in the same world–love it!
  • Attention readers:  this book is essentially CLICHE FREE!  I was so impressed.  When I open a YA Urban Fantasy book, I have some expectations.  Every Other Daydidn’t meet those expectations in an amazingly good way!  Obviously I love what I’ve come to expect from the genre, or I wouldn’t read so much of it, but I love it even more when an author can totally surprise me and take the road less travelled.  Huzzah!

Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s characters are very real, and I was surprised at who I came to like and who I didn’t.  Kali is incredibly strong, and even though she unwittingly has a hero complex, it’s seated in a sense of duty and her attachment to the human part of her that wouldn’t be there if she was entirely something else.  You feel for the girl, not only does she not have any idea what she is, but as far as she knows she’s the only one.  I found it interesting that even in her solitary state she’s always saying things about “people like me” as if she also has an unconscious knowledge of her kind.  Besides which, she’s a badass:

Hindu goddess Kali painting open source
The goddess Kali

The crunching sound  wasn’t exactly pleasant, and the hellhound’s breath was killer, but other than that, I wasn’t really bothered.  People like me?

We didn’t feel pain.

My blood splattered everywhere, but messy eater or not, the hellhound managed to get some of my flesh in its mouth, and the moment my blood touched its tar-black tongue, the beast froze, paralyzed.  I jerked what was left of my arm out of its mouth and managed to drag myself out from underneath its carcass as it fell.

Game.  Set.  Match.

My prey wasn’t dead, not yet, but it would be soon.  Even now, my blood was spreading through the hellhound’s nervous system, a toxin every bit as lethal as a serpent’s venom.  I wasn’t planning on waiting for the creature to die from the poison, though.  It couldn’t move.  It couldn’t fight back.

Might as well cut off its head.

Kali’s dad kind of sucks at parenting, but I appreciate that even as a largely absent parent, he’s still very much in the story.  As we grow to better understand the Kali-dad relationship, it actually becomes fairly deep and heartwrenching:

“There comes a moment in ever kid’s life when they look at their parents and realize that they’re people–stupid and fallible and as breakable as the rest of us.”

Bethany and Skylar are the best!  Skylar is “just a little” psychic, and a tough scrappy girl with five older brothers.  She reaches out to Kali when Kali doesn’t even realize she needs someone, and in the short span of two days becomes more dear to her than she could have thought possible.  Bethany is your classic popular girl, and somehow manages to become one of my favorite characters despite this…or maybe because of this?  The events of the book don’t change who Bethany is, she doesn’t really grow as a person, but you (and Kali) come to realize that despite being a bit of a rich spoiled snob, she’s a good person who’s had her own shiz to deal with and I totally respect that.  Skylar’s brothers are great, even Elliot who I didn’t like one bit made me happy because his role was unexpected to me.  And I’m not saying anything about Zev, because that is for you to discover.

Every Other Day had me doing a lot of mental fist pumping, laughing, and I even teared up at one point. The world Jennifer Lynn Barnes has created is totally genre bending, providing a scientific explanation and basis for what in most books are considered paranormal or fantasy creatures like manticores, dragons, chupacabra, etc. It’s a world where everyone knows these things exist, heck, hellhounds are on the endangered species list (though Kali insists they are so not endangered). It managed to be simultaneously familiar yet totally unique, and I thought it was fantastic. You can read a full excerpt here.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Um…no question!  I’ll be picking up Raised By Wolves sooner rather than later because it’s come to my attention that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is awesome and I can always use more awesome in my life.

Recommended for: People who enjoy YA urban fantasy but are sick of all the cliches. Buffy fans–this book had a similar sense of humor, and Kali was every bit as cool as a slayer!  

Real life repercussions of reading this book: So for some reason “every other day” is close enough in my head to “every day” in my head that I had the song “Calendar Girl” in my head the entiretime I was reading.  And now you will too.  Ha!



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6 comments »

  1. Janicu says:

    Ooh, this one sounds a shade like Horror rather than UF-type YA, but in a good way (and this is from wimpy me). Jennifer Lynn Barnes has been on my author to try list for a while. I think I have a copy of GOLDEN on my TBR somewhere…

  2. Cliche free! NOT A SERIES! You have officially convinced me to dusty off my egalley and give this a go. :) I was mixed on Raised by Wolves but have heard really good things about this one, so I'm excited to have something to look forward to. WendyIMAGINARY GIRLS author Nova Ren Suma shares her Favorite Romantic Scene at The Midnight Garden.

  3. Heidi says:

    I hope you like it! I found it really enjoyable and refreshing.

  4. Heidi says:

    It does have shades of horror, but I promise it's not scary (I'm a total wimp too).

  5. Word. Kali is absolutely a total bad ass. AND I FIST PUMPED LIKE A MOTHER the whole time reading. Every Other Day freakin' rocked and I'm glad it wasn't like every other YA urban fantasy/paranormal out there.

  6. Heidi says:

    I'm glad you thought so too!

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