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Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
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Ordinary Magic (edition 2012)

by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

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8916135,585 (4.23)2
Member:singerji
Title:Ordinary Magic
Authors:Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Info:Bloomsbury USA Childrens (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

  1. 20
    Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Similar style of humour and themes of pushing back against rigid societal expectations and stereotypes.
  2. 00
    The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
  3. 00
    Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both books are about magic and fear of those who are different
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Ordinary Magic is about a girl named Abby who lives in a world where everything is done with magic. Out of her entire large family, Abby is the only "ord" (ordinary), revealed when she is tested for magical gifts. She is immediately shunned by just about everyone she knows aside from her family (who are hilarious and adorable and lovely). She is then shipped off to a special school in the city dedicated to protecting ords and teaching them how to survive and protect themselves against magic users who, for the most part, hate them. Abby has had a pretty great childhood compared to many of her classmates, but the teachers and students bond and learn a lot and have to face off against bloody-thirsty Red Caps, ord-slavers, and discrimination of all kinds.

The world is fascinating. Everything is done by magic, so an ord is feared because a lack of magic is a horrifying possibility to most of the populace. The politics, with the various people standing for or against ords, was included enough in the story to make sense and stay interesting, without detracting from the more personal story of the characters (think of Harry Potter's wizarding world, if all the wizards decided to hunt down their non-magical relatives and enslave them).

The characters were, in fact, FABULOUS. I loved the protagonist, who is optimistic, idealistic, and loves her family. The novel is written in her voice, and it is solid throughout and very entertaining (a large part of why I started reading and couldn't stop). I also love her family, who don't care that she's an ord and commit themselves to helping her and kids like her. All of the teachers and students at the school have their own stories and fleshed out personalities. One of her classmates, Peter, is a perfect foil for Abby (and not just because he's a Pessimist and she's an Optimist).

Ordinary Magic is one of those perfect books where every page is not only necessary to the story that the author is telling, but entertaining and gripping as well. This is a Middle Grade book, but the story is still complex and deals with some pretty intense issues. It would be easy to read it strictly as an allegory of race/religion/sex discrimination, but there’s a really great story here, too.

I need more of this series immediately!

(review also posted on my blog, bahnree.blogspot.com) ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
Ordinary Magic is about a girl named Abby who lives in a world where everything is done with magic. Out of her entire large family, Abby is the only "ord" (ordinary), revealed when she is tested for magical gifts. She is immediately shunned by just about everyone she knows aside from her family (who are hilarious and adorable and lovely). She is then shipped off to a special school in the city dedicated to protecting ords and teaching them how to survive and protect themselves against magic users who, for the most part, hate them. Abby has had a pretty great childhood compared to many of her classmates, but the teachers and students bond and learn a lot and have to face off against bloody-thirsty Red Caps, ord-slavers, and discrimination of all kinds.

The world is fascinating. Everything is done by magic, so an ord is feared because a lack of magic is a horrifying possibility to most of the populace. The politics, with the various people standing for or against ords, was included enough in the story to make sense and stay interesting, without detracting from the more personal story of the characters (think of Harry Potter's wizarding world, if all the wizards decided to hunt down their non-magical relatives and enslave them).

The characters were, in fact, FABULOUS. I loved the protagonist, who is optimistic, idealistic, and loves her family. The novel is written in her voice, and it is solid throughout and very entertaining (a large part of why I started reading and couldn't stop). I also love her family, who don't care that she's an ord and commit themselves to helping her and kids like her. All of the teachers and students at the school have their own stories and fleshed out personalities. One of her classmates, Peter, is a perfect foil for Abby (and not just because he's a Pessimist and she's an Optimist).

Ordinary Magic is one of those perfect books where every page is not only necessary to the story that the author is telling, but entertaining and gripping as well. This is a Middle Grade book, but the story is still complex and deals with some pretty intense issues. It would be easy to read it strictly as an allegory of race/religion/sex discrimination, but there’s a really great story here, too.

I need more of this series immediately!

(review also posted on my blog, bahnree.blogspot.com) ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
Possible cafe book selection? ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this - it took a popular trope that we're seeing in books as of late and flipped it around. The characters are engaging, the world is interesting. :D ( )
  kerrikins | Sep 25, 2013 |
Think of this as the "anti-Harry Potter." In Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, we meet 12-year-old Abby who is about to find out that in a world which runs on magic, she has none. Branded as an Ordinary - or "Ord" - Abby has to learn how to survive without magic in a world where magic is everything.

I was completely drawn into the world created by Rubino-Bradway, with all of its intricacies and dangers. When we are first introduced to Abby, she is all set to be judged to determine what level of magic she possesses, but when the judges discover she has zero ability they are horrified. They urge Abby's parents to get rid of her so that does not disgrace them. Abby's family, however, has no intention of casting out their youngest member and instead send her to a boarding school for Ords that was established by King Stephen (Steve) and Abby's oldest sister, Alexa. Abby meets other Ords just like herself, and they all attend regular classes like math and history along with self-defense and zoology (one must learn how to classify mythical creatures after all!) while trying to avoid carnivorous goblins and kidnappers.

Rubino-Bradway has written a story rife with prejudice and classism, but has done it in such a way that young readers will be more focused on Abby's actions than on the dangers around her. It is pretty horrifying to live in a world where any person, let alone a child, can suddenly be tossed aside by their family or sold to strangers just because they don't have any magical skills. Thankfully, Abby's family loves her no matter what and are determined that she will have just as rich and fulfilling a life as anyone with magic. Abby's family is fantastic - dad is a flying carpet maker, mom owns a bakery, Alexa works in the Department of Education as an adviser to the king, oldest brother Gil is a romance novelist (writing under a female name), sister Olivia is a flirty drama queen who has just moved back home after graduation, and brother Jeremy is well on his way to becoming a scholar - and all of them love Abby deeply.

Abby herself is a wonderful heroine - determined, spunky and caring. She is just as supportive of her family as they are of her. The love and acceptance of Abby's family is a huge part of this story, and helps balance the dangers Abby faces in the world outside their home. And danger comes knocking pretty quickly after Abby is found to be an Ord; adventurers keep stopping by the family home trying to buy Abby so she can be used to access areas that have been secured with magic (since Ords are immune to spells). Two of the worst are Barbarian Mike and his companion Trixie - they are determined to obtain an Ord no matter what the cost.

Abby's family is in stark contrast to the families of other students she encounters - Fred's stepmother sold him to Barbarian Mike and Trixie (but Abby's dad and Alexa rescue him on their way to drop off Abby at school) and Frances was kicked out by her parents and taken in by a kindly neighbor. Joining Abby, Fred and Frances at school is a boy named Peter, who is loved by his Ord mother just as much as Abby is loved by her magical family. Peter is the only character I had difficulty with; I liked him, but I never quite understood why he was so stand-offish with Abby and the other students. He eventually warms up to them (when Abby basically forces friendship on him), but for most of the story he holds himself back from others and it is never really explained why.

The Margaret Green School that the Ords attend is also interesting. It has minotaurs in charge of security and is wrapped with cold iron and spells to repel malevolent trespassers. Classes in self-defense are mandatory and teach the students various methods to defend themselves from monsters and kidnappers, while language classes will make plotting an escape easier if they are ever kidnapped and sold to someone outside their kingdom. Sponsoring the school is King Steve, a very nice gentleman who seems to be a bit attached to big sister Alexa. Determined to change the traditions of the society he has inherited, he has outlawed the sale of Ords in his kingdom and established harsh punishments for kidnapping them.

The story moves briskly and twists neatly between quiet moments and action. There are goblin attacks, kidnappings, and escapes. Humor is used throughout to help soften the dark themes (I especially loved when Abby discovered some unexpected and very fervent fans of her brother Gil's romance novels), as is the love between family and friends. Even Barbarian Mike and Trixie have a couple of moments where you can see they care about each other. Everything comes to a head in an exciting finale that contains both heroism and loss, and sets things up nicely for a sequel.

With its mix of humor, magic, action and danger, Ordinary Magic is a fun and exciting read. While it definitely has some dark themes, author Caitlen Rubino-Bradway never loses sight of her young audience and tells the story in a very accessible and entertaining manner. Characters are well-rounded and interesting, and even the villains have moments of humanity. Geared more to the middle-school crowd, Ordinary Magic has enough substance to entertain teens and adults as well. If you enjoy Harry Potter (especially year one) and Percy Jackson, you might want to give Ordinary Magic a try. ( )
1 vote eomalley | Apr 20, 2013 |
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In a world where everyone possesses magical abilities, powerless twelve-year-old Abby, an Ordinary, is sent to a special school to learn how to negotiate a magical world with her unmagical "disability"--and to avoid becoming a victim of kidnappers, carnivores, and goblins ready to prey upon the Ords.… (more)

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