Review: The Other Side of Nowhere


When Johnno and his friends survive the freak storm that rips apart their yacht, they’re just glad to be alive. That is, until reality hits: they’ve washed up on an uninhabited island with few supplies, no phone and no way to get home.

The situation becomes even more desperate when the four teenagers discover they are not alone on the island. There’s a hideout where men with guns are covering up a dark secret that they will protect at any cost.

With nowhere to run, Johnno and his friends are forced into a dangerous game with the criminals as they fight to save one of their own.

The Other Side of Nowhere is a dangerous place to be when you’re hungry, trapped, and being hunted.

The very first thing that struck me when I read the blurb of this book was how “Enid Blyton” it sounded. Four kids stranded on an island, with some bad guys who want to hide something. Um, duh! Famous Five much.

The Other Side of Nowhere could possibly be forgiven for this huge plagiarism of Enid Blyton idea if the writing was good, but I’m afraid that even the writing is flawed.

It feels like something that a Year 9 or 10 student would write. I’m sorry, Steve, but it really does. The first thing that I noticed, was the fact that he rarely uses the word said, and if he does, he uses it with an adverb. Like, “he said angrily”. Or “he said sadly”. But these are not common because he prefers to simply kill the word said. The Other Side of Nowhere is like the perfect example for “Said is Dead”. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, though, because contrary to what your teachers always told you from Grade 1 to Grade 4, said is actually a very handy tool. The word said tends to just fade into the background, and your eyes kind of just skim over it, making it inconspicuous. When you don’t use the word said, or you use a big, complicated word, it seems out-of-place, so your eyes linger over it a little longer, snagging the flow of the story.

And then another problem pops up. The way Steve writes is very annoying, in the way that he doesn’t have enough experience to know how to truly write fiction. It’s not just the lack of “said”, but other things contribute to the stilted flow of writing, and this makes it very difficult to get into. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something that The Other Side of Nowhere lacks. Maybe it’s the “author’s touch” or the love that a true writer puts into every word, but The Other Side of Nowhere is just missing in this department. It’s written style is very mechanical, professional and unemotional, like a textbook rather than a novel.

The only thing that sets this book apart from a Famous Five adventure is the fact that the 12-year-old flips the finger a lot and the older boy is attracted to the girl.

I appreciate how Johnston has strived to give the characters flaws to make them more believable, but this has kind of backfired on him. Johnny has a volatile personality; Matt is very constantly impulsive and doesn’t think anything through; Matt tends to act childish and obvious to the feelings of those around him; and George, which is short for Georgina (um, hello? Blatantly Famous Five much!), lacks personality completely and was a very shallow character for me. The flaws that the boys have completely take over their personality, and this is a major let-down for me. When I think of Johnny, I think of the violent mood swings that he has, rather than any other personality traits. When I think of Matt, I think of how hasty he was to make decision and when I think of Matt, I think of how babyish and childish he seemed (apart from the finger flipping). So in a way, the flaws that Johnston has created have become defining traits about the character, and this is definitely not a good thing.

So in conclusion, The Other Side of Nowhere was an interesting read, but lacked depth. The characters’ major flaws turned into definitive traits and they were not believable to realistic. The writing was stilted and seemed wrong. Not recommended unless you like reading textbooks.

Rating:  5/10

The Other Side of Nowhere is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.

The Info:

  • Title: The Other Side of Nowhere
  • Author: Steve Johnston
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont (May 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1742976905
  • URL: Amazon

What do you think? Let me know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s