Shelf Control #326: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

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Title: In Other Lands
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: 2019
Length: 487 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border — unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

In Other Lands is the exhilarating new book from beloved and bestselling author Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s a novel about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone.

How and when I got it:

I bought the paperback early in 2021.

Why I want to read it:

I’m not sure why, but for several weeks straight in early 2021, my social media feeds kept pushing this book at me. Hey, it’s the power of marketing — it worked! I kept seeing this mermaid cover popping up whenever I went to check up on my friends’ latest updates, and eventually, I gave in to my curiosity. I mean, who doesn’t love a mermaid cover?

The paperback edition is big and chunky, and at first glance, the plot seems to skew younger than what I usually prefer. This sounds very much like middle grade to younger young adult fiction, which I haven’t been gravitating toward much in recent years.

Still, between the magical school setting, the strange new world, and the fantastical beings that the main character meets, it does sound quite charming. I think I initially bought the book without looking very far into the details, which may be why it’s been sitting on my shelf (unread) since I got it.

I’m a little torn. I see a lot of very positive reviews on Goodreads, but I’m not convinced that this is something I want to devote much time to.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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6 thoughts on “Shelf Control #326: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

  1. I remember seeing this everywhere too, and thinking it sounded interesting. I’m not sure I actually saw a review from a blogger I follow, though. Let us know if you end up reading it!

  2. This does seem to be more of a middle grade fiction read. And the length! But the story does sound like it could be fun…if it doesn’t bog down. I’d probably try the first 25-50 pages and see how it reads, then decide whether to read on or DNF.

  3. Hi Lisa!

    I remember adding this book to one of my TTT posts about a year ago. It was on mermaids and I will need to go and find that post…. But yes! I will probably read it. It does seem like a lot of fun for sure.

    I’ve linked you to my latest Throwback Thursday.

    Elza Reads

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