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Extraordinary Hardcover – September 7, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: A faerie world is about to die--and one ordinary girl can change its fate. When Phoebe meets Mallory Tolliver, she is irresistibly drawn to her, despite Mallory’s odd ways. The two form a sister-like bond until Mallory’s handsome brother, Ryland, appears during their junior year, and Phoebe finds herself intensely attracted to him. A dangerous romance begins, but Phoebe soon discovers that Mallory and Ryland are not who they seem. In Extraordinary, National Book Award finalist Nancy Werlin has crafted an enchanting novel of friendship and loyalties, where family history determines the fate of many and a generations-old pact requires a sacrifice of the greatest proportion. With underlying themes of self-discovery and allegiance, there is more to Extraordinary than first meets the eye.--Seira Wilson

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–Phoebe Rothschild meets Mallory Tolliver when they are in seventh grade. Mallory, a pariah among the popular set, is saved by Phoebe, who rejects the clique and embraces the new girl as her best friend. Four years later, when the girls are juniors in high school, Mallory reveals the existence of her half-brother, Ryland, who is 24 and irresistible. He is one of the fey, as is Mallory, and he uses fairy glamour for diabolical ends; dialogues between the Faerie Queen and Mallory and the Faerie Queen and Ryland reveal that the fey have deadly plans for the unsuspecting Phoebe. Ryland informs the Queen that Phoebe will be easy to seduce but Phoebe, even though bound by magic, still manages to resist submitting fully. Real-world conversations and settings are distinctly rendered, as are Phoebe's glimpses of Faerie, and although the intermittent dialogues with the Faerie Queen sometimes feel stilted, they provide critical backstory. The denouement flounders ever so slightly in overexplanation, but the carefully nuanced, often sensual prose delivers a highly effective narrative. Characterizations are arresting and complex: Phoebe, thoughtful and loyal, is bravely compassionate; Mallory, divided and determined, elicits reluctant sympathy; and Ryland, controlling and manipulative, is scarily realistic. Werlin's intricately constructed plot combines fairy lore, family history, and coming of age in an engrossing, often suspenseful story that moves smoothly to its inevitable end. Phoebe's intellectual and emotional transformation from ordinary to extraordinary is of her own volition, which makes her the compelling force of this bittersweet fairy tale.Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803733720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803733725
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lawral Wornek on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Yes, this is another faerie book. But instead of a human protagonist being plagues by faeries or sucked into their world, most of this book is story about two girls who are the best kind of best friends. They share everything, build each other up, and act like sisters from a fairytale rather than like siblings in real life. Phoebe is loaded and Mallory has almost nothing, but that never seems to come in the way of their friendship, even though Phoebe's mom is paying for Mallory's mom to have around the clock care. There is never that you-owe-me sentiment that can sometimes creep into those kinds of relationships. Everything is perfect. Except...

This story is broken up by numbered conversations with the Faerie Queen. It seems Phoebe is very important. She is needed desperately by an ailing Faerie Court and it is Mallory's job to prepare Phoebe for whatever it is that she must do. Though we see most of the story (everything but these Faerie Queen convos) from Phoebe's point of view, it is Mallory's conflicting loyalties that are the real meat of this story. She loves Phoebe in that intense way that teenage girls have, where your best friend is your whole world, but she knows that if she doesn't do what she's been sent into the human world to do, the Faerie Queen and her Court will fade away, along with Mallory and all of her people. Mallory struggles with this for years, putting off her choice between her family and her best friend. In the mean time, she hides her assignment and helps Phoebe come into her own, not as a Rothschild, but as Phoebe. But that's not what Mallory was sent to do.
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Format: Hardcover
Extraordinary is Nancy Werlin's second foray into the genre of fairy tale/magical realism. Unfortunately, I can't say it is as successful as her first - Impossible.

The basic premise here is that Phoebe Rothschild, a beloved daughter in a rich Jewish family, is befriended by two faeries (Mallory and Ryland) who try to manipulate her into doing something that will serve the interests of the Faerie Kingdom. The story revolves around the faeries' schemes and Phoebe's role in them.

I have many good things to say about this novel:

1) The writing style is great - it has an eerie/dream-like quality to it.

2) Hardly any books about fairies ever caught my attention. Werlin's faeries are actually interesting, ambiguous. Their world is well drawn and motivations are understandable and even compelling.

3) Thank goodness, Extraordinary is not another one of those paranormal YA books about an ordinary girl who falls for some faerie prince who treats her like crap in the name of his undying love for her. It is very clear that Ryland is a bad person and Phoebe puts up with his abuses ONLY because she is glamored by him. In no way do Ryland's actions (inappropriate flirting, psychological abuse, demeaning remarks) are portrayed as some twisted signs of love by a tortured "hero." Take a note, Becca Fitzpatrick! (Isn't it sad though that I even have to mention this in my review of an YA novel?)

4) Themes of friendship, family love, feeling of self-worth are explored very well.

BUT! Once I reached the climax of the story and found out the reason why faeries were after Phoebe, I couldn't help exclaiming: That's it? That was much ado about nothing!
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Format: Hardcover
Phoebe Rothschild has always felt average in her remarkable family, but she takes comfort in her best friend Mallory, who is like a sister, and her friend Benjamin. What Phoebe doesn't know is that Mallory is really a faerie, sent to Phoebe to collect a debt that the Rothschild family owes, dating back generations to when her ancestor Mayer Rothschild made a bargain with the Faerie Queen for his extraordinary sons. When the Faerie Queen suspects that Mallory isn't doing her job well, she sends Ryland, Mallory's brother, to help her collect it. He forces the situation to light and causes Phoebe to decide if she is another extraordinary Rothschild, or just an ordinary girl.

Nancy Werlin has created a magical read in Extraordinary with a great blend of history, enchantment, and love. Phoebe is a loyal, kind character and while she may have a hard time classifying herself as anything but ordinary, it's obvious to the reader that she is special in the way that she cares for Mallory before they become friends and in her generosity. Their friendship isn't as prominent in the story, but instead the book really focuses on how Phoebe is forced to examine her own self worth through her new relationship with Ryland and her struggles with Mallory and her lies. There are quite a few moments when the reader is forced to think on what it means to be extraordinary, to the world and to those you love, and Werlin offers some keen insights on both. Phoebe eventually finds herself confronting the faeries in a battle of wits, and it is refreshing to find that Werlin's faeries aren't completely infallible as other stories and books make them out to be.
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