Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees BrennanIn Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by Big Mouth House on August 15, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 437
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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five-stars

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

Meg sent me In Other Lands for my birthday/to get me to read it ASAP. I’ve been really working on being able to fit more books semi-spontaneously into my ludicrously over-scheduled schedule and for once I actually dived right in to a recommendation. You guys, I can’t remember the last time I fell so hard for a book. In Other Lands immediately became my favorite book of the year so far and ascended to the all-time favorites list.

Honestly, In Other Lands is so absurdly good that I’m side-eyeing everything else Brennan has written. I loved The Lynburn Legacy, but it wasn’t this good. Like, holy shit, I was just not emotionally prepared to love this book SO DAMN MUCH. All I want is for Brennan to write adventures about Elliot and Luke and Serene for all of time tbh, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. To sum up, In Other Lands is a perfect Christina Book, and all of your shippy banter people MUST READ IT. Give Sarah Rees Brennan your money, because she deserves it and also I need more Elliot.

In Other Lands starts with a sort of Harry Potter-esque premise, but pretty much immediately flips every trope ever. Elliot’s taken out into a field with some classmates and sees a wall that everyone else can walk through without seeing, and surprise yer a wizard Elliot. Except actually you’re not a wizard at all. You can go to the magic lands with swords and arrows and harpies and elves (swoon!) and mermaids (zomg!!!), but you can’t do magic. Elliot’s options are learning to fight to be a border guard, protecting the magical world from forces inside and out, or council training, aka history and treaties and stuff like that. Unlike most people, Elliot excitedly chooses council training, so that he can fix treaties like a boss and make everybody be friends rather than all murdery and stuff.

Elliot’s sort of like Hermione, if she were rude to everyone and a smidge more pretentious and with Ron’s sensitivity and awareness to the feelings of others. Add in Harry’s attitude in Order of the Phoenix and a fuckton of neverending snark, and you’ve got an idea of what Elliot is like. He’s…a lot. Many people find themselves wanting to hit him in the face upon meeting him. I love him. Intensely. Like, I want to be his best friend, because he’s the best.

In spite of himself, Elliot makes friends: Serene and Luke. Serene’s an elf apprenticing with the border guards, and little baby 13 year old Elliot falls for her hard. Luke’s the most popular boy in school from a major legacy family; he’s like Draco, only if Draco were an awkward sweetie pie hufflepuff but also still good at murder. As much as Elliot is predisposed to loathe everything Luke stands for, the three of them become a group of outcast weirdo best friends and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Also, that slow burn ship of SHIPS. OTP LEVEL.

Oh, also, this book is everything I want fiction to be, and which it almost never is. There’s so much lgbt rep of different kinds, including a bisexual MC (holla, Elliot, you adorable little brat). Then there’s elven culture, which is exactly if you took all of our gender roles and swapped them. Men are sensitive snowflakes who are bad at fighting and good at feelings and raise the children; women are fearsome warriors and not to be trusted around innocent young men. It’s beautiful and hilarious and SERIOUSLY WHY DO FANTASIES NOT DO THIS MORE OFTEN? I always knew I wanted to be an elf.

In Other Lands doesn’t follow a traditional narrative structure, and it’s very much an atypical fantasy. It started out as a for-fun story on her blog, so there are elements of fan fiction to it, and it’s not like much of anything else traditionally published. There is a plot arc, but it’s pretty low key and low tension. In Other Lands is thoroughly fluffy and humorous, and it’s all about dat character arc. It’s also sort of old school YA in the sense that it goes from Elliot’s 13th year through his 17th, which YA really doesn’t do anymore, but which I miss tbh. If you’re not a reader who lives for character’s growth emotionally or for endless banter, you might not be super impressed with this book. However, if, like me, that’s exactly what you want from everything, In Other Lands will be your new favorite thing ever.

I actually don’t know if I could love this book more. It’s waaaaay longer than it looks and took me 7 hours to read, but I just wish there was more of it tbh. SRSLY READ IT. SO FUCKING GOOD. *snuggles with book*

Favorite Quote:

“Cadet Schafer, how would you describe your conversational style?”

“Er….,” said Elliot, and grinned. “Drive it like I stole it.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

8 responses to “Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan”

  1. I just put in a request for this one at the library! I feel like I haven’t heard all that much about it, so I’m excited you enjoyed it so much. 🙂 Great review!
    Savannah @ Playing in the Pages recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday, Throwback Edition: Ten of My Most Impactful Pre-High-School ReadsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I hope you love it too! It’s the perfect, fluffy, happy-making, shiptastic read for the shitstorm that is this year. 😀

  2. Gillian says:

    *sparkle heart explosion feels*
    Gillian recently posted…The Books of 2017: Part One of ManyMy Profile

  3. I loved this book so much!!! Everything you said from the gender role swap to the lgbt rep to the fantasy tropes twisted around- SO GOOD. Seriously one of my new favorite trios! I really really want mooore adventures in the great wiiiide somewheeere. Elliott rules and he and Luke are so cute I can’t deal. For once I liked that there was a lot of random romance too, besides just the ships. Everyone better read this book after reading your review 😀
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…Mini Review Monday: Fireblood and Illegal ContactMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It’s just SO AMAZING.

      *break to sing BatB*

      Elliot and Luke are seriously a ship of dreams. I have so many feelings, and I want a book of them being a happy couple. Or, like, a short story. I JUST WANT MORE OF THEM BEING ADORABLE. At the end when Elliot says goodbyeeeeeeeeeeee. FEEEEEEELS.

      Seriously, anyone who enjoys joy should read this book because it’s so happy-making.

  4. Leah says:

    I’m hoping the YA librarian at my branch orders this for our collection!
    Leah recently posted…{Throwback Thursday Review} The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      You should encourage them to do so if they haven’t! It’s such a great book to counteract the constant shit happening in the US right now, at least for a little bit.

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