Seventeen-year-old Gwen hides a dangerous secret: she’s Other. Half-pooka, to be exact, thanks to the father she never met. Most Americans don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Others, especially not the small-town folks of Klikamuks, Washington. As if this isn’t bad enough, Gwen’s on the brink of revealing her true identity to her long-time boyfriend, Zack, but she’s scared he’ll lump her with the likes of bloodthirsty vampires and feral werewolves.
When a pack of werewolves chooses the national forest behind Gwen’s home as their new territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate-into murder. It soon becomes clear a serial killer is methodically slaying Others. The police turn a blind eye, leaving Gwen to find the killer before the killer finds her. As she hunts for clues, she uncovers more Others living nearby than she ever expected. Like Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to embrace her Otherness. Gwen must struggle with her own conflicted identity, learn who she can trust, and-most importantly-stay alive.
Other by Karen Kincy is a wonderfully written story about a girl who is more than just a girl. In a society where Supernatural beings known as "Others" are out in the open, Gwen adamantly hides the fact that she is half Pooka. She can shift into any animal she chooses but is determined to hide her nature from everyone, because those who have come forward are discriminated against and thought to be untrustworthy. In Gwen's small town, things are getting really dangerous for Others. Someone is murdering them and then exposing them for who they were. While in the midst of taking her relationship with her fully human boyfriend, Zack, Gwen meets Tavian and they form an instant attraction. Betrayed by Zack, Gwen turns to Tavian and he encourages her to embrace her Other-ness unlike her parents who constantly discourage her from outing herself. Gwen is attacked one night be a crowd of rowdy young men and in order to save herself, she partially shifts her hands to gain claws to escape the painful hold one of the guys has on her. They are not certain but they believe she is Other and begin harassing her. Now here is what bothered me: Gwen's mother blames her, saying it was her own fault for defending herself against rape. Really? That is what you're telling your daughter after she is attacked and then continually sexually harassed? With the exception of a few scenes with the parents, I loved every other part of this book.
The racism that Karen writes about in Other can be, and in some cases is, very similar to the racism we see in our society today. I enjoyed how Gwen grew out of her stubborn way of thinking that certain Others are nothing better than savages who have little care for civility. She learns that there is more to everyone than meets the eye. This book not only has some very enjoyable romance but it also has the mystery of who the serial killer is, and Gwen has no idea just how close the murder is to her and her secret.