Escaping Elsewhere by Raea Gragg
Author has designed an intricate and packed story, paying good attention to the many moving parts with excellent writing skill. The subplots have been crafted as finely as the main plot, and author has a great talent for characterization. All voices are well differentiated, physical descriptions are handled deftly, not overdone. Author writes young and older character dialogue with terrific authenticity, showing a nice instinct for realistic voice-how some sentences just drop off, characters' emotion creates choppy conversations. Well done. We get a great dose of realism in character interactions, and the evolution of Eva's and Logan's relationship feels smooth and organic. Nicely done. We believe their connection, which is what makes Lady Baselisk's unwelcome revelation of Logan's true identity a shocker. Didn't see that coming, and it works so well because the author has pre-planted so much detail in what could make that true. Well done. Watch out for the occasional typo- on the first page, we see a verb tense agreement issue ('smirk' instead of 'smirks'.) A typo distracts the reader from the book, and when the writing is this good, it's an even bigger distraction, especially when it occurs on the first page and keeps the reader on guard for a few moments rather than being immersed in the story. Not an egregious error, but a lesson that this terrific author should hear to be sure that future books are edited cleanly for best enjoyment of her stellar structure and character development. Action scenes stand up well, and inner dialogue feels grounded. We get many moments of tension and danger here, each wrapped up well for a satisfying end to a very nuanced book. Well done.
- Judge, 24th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Escaping Elsewhere by Raea Gragg
In this fantastical novel, a teen is stolen from her home and taken to a place called Elsewhere, where nothing is as it seems.
Eva Emmetts thought she was like any other teen. Sure, she, a Native American, and her best friend, Jane, who is deaf, didn’t exactly fit in with their peers at their Idaho school, but they certainly made the best of it. After Eva’s mom left, Eva’s dad went crazy, and Eva has had to grow up and fend for herself. One day, after one of her father’s particularly troubling episodes in which he says he knows “where she is,” Eva goes to school only to be met by black-suited CIA agents. When Eva is ripped from her classroom without explanation and taken to an underground lair in the Nevada desert, like any best friend would, Jane follows, until she is taken herself. Chipped, tagged, and told not to speak, Eva meets Logan Colley, a cowboy intent on showing her Elsewhere, the place where they are now trapped. In Elsewhere, there are Neanderthals, a Great Wall of China, dinosaurs, and more—it’s like the regular world, only not quite. Why was Eva taken, and what does this have to do with her parents? Will she make her way to Jane? Eva must work with Logan and other characters to find her way. Imaginative and difficult to put down, the work is one that some young adults may finish in a single night. It’s hard to believe that author Gragg (The Fox Trot, 2014) is in high school—her writing is so adept. While a few minor errors appear in the book (“loose” instead of “lose”), they don’t overly distract. Because she is a teenager, the dialogue between the teens is actually believable. The tale is also beautifully paced, and the action never flags. With clever banter, plenty of action, and a touch of history, Gragg’s work is a welcome reprieve from the trending dystopian YA novels.
A lively, smart novel for teens and imaginative adults alike.