Sunday, January 30, 2022

REVIEW: Others See Us (book) by William Sleator

Other See Us is YA SFF. Technically, I'd argue that it's YA SFF horror. I checked it out from the library. 

This review includes slight spoilers.


The thing that most excites Jared about his summer vacation is that he'll finally get the chance to see his beautiful cousin Annelise again. However, not long before the big family cookout, Jared accidentally crashes his bike and falls into a swamp filled with toxic muck. He manages to get it all washed off, but suddenly he finds himself hearing weird voices, almost like he can hear others' thoughts. There's far more tension in his family than he ever realized, and he has no idea what to think about it all.

But soon he has other problems keeping him occupied. His secret journal has gone missing, which means that someone now knows all about his huge crush on Annelise. Whoever took it knew the security code to his family's cottage, and since the thief wasn't either of his parents, it seems likely that there's another mind reader in his family, someone else who was exposed to the toxic swamp water.

This was originally published in 1993, and oof did it feel dated. Jared was the densest sixteen-year-old ever. I was willing to believe that it might take him a while to realize that he was hearing others' thoughts, but it boggled my mind that the thoughts he heard at this cookout were his first inkling that his dad had a drinking problem. I don't know if Sleator thought teens were stupid or if Jared was just that self-centered, but you'd think he'd have noticed something before, even just tension between his parents.

Jared's crush on Annelise was awkward and squicky. At one point, he tried to figure out how to get some alone time with her, because "our family frowned on romantic relations between cousins" (19). When Jared started developing an interest in another girl, it was, of course, yet another cousin. He really needed to get out and meet some girls who weren't related to him.

The story wasn't subtle in the slightest, with over-the-top villainy and one character who literally thought in diary entries (probably the only way poor Jared stood a chance of figuring things out in a reasonable amount of time). The ending was unsatisfying, and I'm not sure I'd recommend this to any modern teens. That said, there were some genuinely chilling moments at the end. Annelise was horrible, but that grandmother was scarier than she could ever hope to be.

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