Magic and science. Sky and Earth. Boy and girl. Goddess and prince. Destiny and choice. Family and individuality. The Other Side of the Sky, the latest collaboration between Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, is a fascinating amalgam of all of these. It truly is a fantasy/science fiction mashup in the very literal sense.
One thing that Ms. Kaufman and Ms. Spooner do well is within their character development. With each new piece of information learned or event witnessed, Nimh and North change and grow. Preconceived notions disappear, and these two characters from opposite ways of life start finding their similarities rather than their differences. In this age of seeming intolerance, it is refreshing to see two characters who are anything but.
I don’t often say this, but I wish there was more exposition within The Other Side of the Sky. We have so many questions; almost every scene creates a new one. However, we don’t get nearly enough answers because Nimh and North are constantly on the move with no time for explanations. I get the need to keep readers’ interest, but to me, the sheer number of unanswered questions is frustrating rather than intriguing.
Speaking of action, there is so much of it that it too becomes overwhelming. There appears to be a plot twist within every chapter, which makes for interesting reading. Unfortunately, it also means that there is no chance to just sit and absorb everything. Characters and readers need rest, and there really isn’t any for either.
As a result, The Other Side of the Sky feels slightly manipulative, or, rather, as if it is trying too hard to keep readers engaged for the next volume. Even the cliffhanger ending is less a cliffhanger and more a very obvious ploy to shock readers. There is simply no way what the authors intimate at the end of the novel is really going to come to fruition in the second installment.
Between the numerous unanswered questions, the near-constant plot twists, and an ending that hints at a major misdirection, the whole thing has an air of desperation about it that begs readers to maintain interest over of the course of the series, something that is too obvious and therefore a bit uncomfortable to experience. Sadly, all of this means is that The Other Side of the Sky is not my favorite Kaufman/Spooner collaboration.