Review: The Other Side (Special Edition)
By Justin Jay Gladstone & Nitsuj Yaj Enotsdalg
Special Edition Release Date: Feb 20, 2019
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Science Fiction
Leon has a problem, he stands accused of sexually assaulting his friend Allie but he has no memory of the day that the assault happened. There are times when he hears another voice inside of his head, his devil on the shoulder, that teases him and tells him to act contrary to his nature. His relationships with his friends are strained as they are unsure of which friend to believe. Leon doesn’t know himself. He cares for Allie and wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, but something happened. And she understandably, hates him for it.
Following a suicide attempt, Leon is taken to the Earthshine Facility for treatment and diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He is required to attend therapy and must have no incidents in order to process in treatment from ‘pawn’ to ‘knight’ towards “graduation” which allows him more freedom and shows that the treatment is working. But on the night of his graduation from the facility, his world shifts and he finds himself in another world similar yet different from ours.
Leon’s search for his truth also becomes a quest to return home.
Told in third person active tense, the Other Side is ambitious in both its world building and altering the reader’s experience through the use of different devices. The book uses QR codes to link to area illustrations, symbols to signify progression and regression of time, and words that need to be read in the mirror to be understood. I switched between the physical copy and the ebook copy of the Other Side to get the full experience since it is difficult to scan a QR code with my phone if I am reading the book on my phone too.
There are character illustrations and object illustrations along with universe rules sprinkled throughout the book to help the reader’s understanding and over all experience with the Other Side.
It took me a while to get used to the narrative style since I am used to reading in past tense. It made the book feel like someone else was watching the events unfold and relaying it to me, which might be part of the desired effect. There are some spelling errors and some of the terms used feel out of place at times. It’s immature but I laughed when “ejaculated” was used to identify someone saying something quickly and suddenly- this usage is correct but it’s odd to see in a modern novel.
I enjoyed the narrative and the world lore. Most of the mechanics used enhanced the reading experience when you were reading the physical book. While the QR codes could take you out of the story if you still and pull your phone out to look at the illustration.
The official synopsis describes the Other Side as a mystery and it is. It takes most of the novel to unravel the secrets that the narrative is hiding and leaves off at an important decision point. It poses the question of how far you’d be willing to go to find the truth. And what would you do when that truth isn’t what you were expecting? Which is better, to live in ignorance or to realize that you’re living a lie?
The Other Side is Leon’s quest for his own personal truth. Is he a monster that preyed on his friend to sate his own desires? Is he really sick?