New Books: Human, Monster, Other

Monster, Human, Other
By Laurel Gale

Isaac and Wren were born not to fit in.

The kids of the clespsit and human ambassadors (respectively), they’ll spend their childhoods with the other world: Isaac will grow up as an ordinary human kid (as long as his tail stays taped down), and red-haired Wren lives with the clepsits, who—except for her adoptive parents—aren’t big fans of humans. Though the two species share the same planet, they almost never interact—most humans have never even heard of clepsits, and it’s rare for a clepsit to see a human. The ambassadors keep peace between the two worlds, and that’s what Isaac and Wren will do when they grow up, too. If they grow up, that is.

Life has never been easy for Isaac or Wren, but now it’s downright dangerous: The voracans, spiny underground dwellers, are preparing to conquer the sunlight realms, and kidnapping one of the kid ambassadors is part of their plan. Even worse, somewhere in the clepsit and human world is a traitor who’s egging the vorcans on for sinister reasons of his own. When Isaac gets kidnapped and Wren sets off on an impossible mission to save him, the fate of the world rests in the hands of two kids who are meeting each other for the first time.

The tension between humans and clepsits feels particularly timely, and it’s easy to read parallels between current events and Gale’s world. Though the plotting is fast-paced, it’s also bumpy at times—there are some glaring inconsistencies in the story, and occasionally, the reader is asked to swallow a pretty big coincidence. Still, Wren and Isaac are so likable and the Gale’s world-building so interesting that these feel like fairly minor quibbles. It’s a fun story and one that should start some interesting conversations.