Otherworld, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Otherworld, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Virtual reality thriller has old theme but fun, twisty plot.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Otherworld raises questions about the dangers of gaming and the future of virtual reality.

Positive Messages

Friends will go to extremes to protect each other. Individuals can stand up to corporations and effect change.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Simon is a rule-breaking wise guy, but his top priority in this book is to rescue his best friend, Kat, who's stuck in a dangerous virtual realm. He's smart, resourceful, and dedicated to keeping the promises he has made.


Plenty of online mayhem via swordplay, firearms, or magic. Players get hurt in the real world, too.


Mention of a virtual orgy, but no scenes are actually set there. Simon and Kat kiss and sleep fully clothed together.


The language in Otherworld is often casually salty. Many uses of "s--t" and its variants, with a few instances of "hell," "damn," "a--hole," "bastard," and "goddamn." "F--k" used a time or two, in especially stressful situations.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that OTHERWORLD is the first volume in a new sci-fi series by actor Jason Segel and veteran writer Kirsten Miller, authors of the Nightmares! series of middle-grade thrillers. Here a teen named Simon seeks to rescue his best friend, Kat, who's stuck in a dangerous virtual realm. Much of the action takes place online, where the characters fight to survive attacks by magical beings, while their comatose bodies wait for their return in the real world. Strong language includes frequent variants of "s--t," a few instances of "hell," "damn," "a--hole," "bastard," and "goddamn," and one or two uses of "f--k" in especially stressful situations. Sexual content is minimal: Simon and Kat kiss and sleep fully clothed together.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJames M. March 27, 2018

Touching and interesting book that captured even my attention!!!

My child who is not an avid reader read this book and was very happy with the content. I thought it would be too gruesome and inappropriate for my child but act... Continue reading
Adult Written bycactuscrazy01 May 16, 2019

language alert

This was a required summer reading choice for my 2 high school sons. I decided to read the book prior to gauge appropriateness, and had to stop just into the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymolly2626 October 15, 2019

Best book I’ve ever read! Now I’m into reading!

This was the absolute best book I’ve ever read! It was long but totally worth it. The end was slightly hard to comprehend though. So much action! If you like fu... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byScorpius47 June 14, 2018

Good book

Its a great book, and it does have swearing but a matureeleven year old could handle it.

What's the story?

At the start of OTHERWORLD, Simon can't understand why his best friend, Kat, won't have anything to do with him anymore. She's hanging with a different crowd at school, and her controlling stepfather warns Simon to keep his distance. Kat is gravely injured in a freak accident, and then outfitted with sophisticated virtual reality gear designed to keep her mind engaged while her body is comatose. Simon vows to search the online realm known as Otherworld until he finds Kat and rescues her avatar, reuniting her mind and body. Soon Simon is traveling between realms, trying to stay alive online lest his physical body die from the trauma it experiences.

Is it any good?

Cyberthrillers seem to be making a comeback, and this variant of the old "is it a game, or is it reality?" gambit tries to find new juice in the genre. It isn't always successful, relying on standard fantasy tropes and scenes of corporate skullduggery, but Otherworld has lots of appeal with its snarky dialogue and twisty plotting. The book would benefit from a stronger presence from Kat, who seems too much the standard damsel in distress, but Simon is a protagonist worth following through a series of online adventures.

Readers familiar with cyberpunk may wish for a newer wrinkle, but many more will be primed for the next book in the series from Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Otherworld depicts virtual reality technology. What are the positive and negative aspects of ultra-realistic online gaming?

  • How far would you go to rescue your best friend? Would you be willing to put yourself in danger? Who else might be able to help?

  • Do companies always warn consumers about the possible side effects or dangers of their products?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and thrillers

Themes & Topics

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