So, I just finished reading book number one for the year. Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. This book and the author hold special meaning to me, so even though I have already read it, it’s where I wanted to start. I don’t recall the exact year, but I would have been in middle school at the time. I was at home when my mom suggested going to the school and listening to an author give a talk. Off I went, a short walk away and sat in on Isobelle Carmody talking about her books and writing. Much of the talk I don’t recall, I was the youngest one there though. At the end, she donated a copy of Obernewtyn to our library as well as a few other books. Of course, I was the first to check them out and read them. The Obernewtyn series remains a love of mine to this day. I even ordered paperback copies from Australia at one point just so I could have my own. I need to reorder the whole set with matching cover art some time to add to my library.
Obernewtyn follows the journey of the orphan Elspeth. It is a glimpse into a terrible future, where some disaster has wiped out much of the world and left some people with deformities, either physical or mental, known as Misfits. Those who have been affected by what they call the Great White are sent away to perform manual labor not fit for those who are “normal”. Elspeth is unique among the people and her deformities result in special abilities. When it is discovered that she is a Misfit, Elspeth is sent to the mountains, to Obernewtyn, where she will discover many secrets are kept.
I’m sure, based on the above, that you already know I’m a huge fan of Obernewtyn and Isobelle Carmody. Obernewtyn is the first book in the series and so much of it is based on world building and character introduction. It’s a short, quick read really, but worth it, especially if you continue on to the books that follow. Isobelle Carmody creates a world that has undergone serious damage, and while it feels like this story takes place a long time ago, it is the story of a future none of us would want to live in.
I am drawn to this book because of Elspeth, the main character whose point of view Obernewtyn follows. You get glimpses of her history as memories are sparked on her journey. I spent some time reading other reviews of the book and came across a few that criticized Elspeth for being a heroine that could not rescue herself. For some reason, that particular view left me thinking a great deal as I reread the book. What I see in Elspeth is a girl who is so determined to not need anyone else. I don’t think her tale is one where she has to be her own hero, but rather one where she has to learn that sometimes being alone and separate from everyone else isn’t what you need. Sometimes a helping hand or a friend to lean on is more important than all the independence in the world. For a girl who has grown up like Elspeth has, in a world where trusting anyone is not suggested, learning to trust is the bravest thing you can do.
Overall, what I can tell you about Obernewtyn is that as a stand alone novel, it would be lacking so much, but as the start of a series, it gives you just a taste of what is to come. Elspeth and her new found friends have more adventures ahead of them, and characters have just barely been introduced. Hopefully you’ll give Isobelle Carmody and Obernewtyn the chance they deserve. And even more, I hope that you’ll return for the second book.