Review: The Otto Digmore Difference – Brent Hartinger

34227774Series: The Otto Digmore Series 1
Published: February 2017
Genre: contemporary, fiction / New Adult

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

*I was sent an ebook of this book in exchange for an honest review

When I was approached about this book, I knew nothing about it. After reading the synopsis I was interested in it but it still didn’t ring any bells. I’m gonna be honest, I was a bit hesitant to read it because Otto is a spin-off of another series Russel Middlebrook, and I’m all about following the order, even if it is not necessarily. However, since I was kindly offered an ebook to review, I decided to go for it and rest assured, the story stands on its own. If I hadn’t been told it was a spin-off, I wouldn’t have guessed it. Of course, if you’ve read the Russel Middlebrook series, you probably recognize some of the names mentioned and are more familiar with the characters, but if you, like me, didn’t know who Otto is, that doesn’t stop you from enjoying this book.

I want to talk about some aspects that made this book, as the title says, different, and enjoyable. These are all elements that are referred to in the synopsis (and in one case, in the first chapter of the book)  and made me curious about the book. Firs of all, Otto, our main character, is a gay man. Luckily, this is not the first book I read with an homosexual main character and I pray it’s not the last. Otto is also a burnt survivor; half of his face is covered in scars. Now that was what drawed me to the book, and it has made me suffer and sympathize with him but also see the real Otto. It has not been easy for him and that’s talked about during the story. Sadly, that’s realistic: people who are different have it worst in life. However, I was rooting for Otto to not be affected by what people said and for him to overcome whatever obstacle was in front of him. I wanted him to succeed and be happy. And I wanted him to stop being labeled a “burnt survivor”, because he’s much more than that.

I guess the only other book I’ve read that I could compare to this aspect of Otto’s story is Wonder by R.J. Palacio, where the main character, Auggie, was born with a facial deformity. Wonder is a middle grade book whilst The Otto Digmore Difference is new adult. Apart from this two books, I don’t believe I know any others where there’s a character with a facial deformity, and, especially considering how both those books are part of separate age groups, it was interesting to see how that affected the story, but it was also important to read about, because those people exist, and they need to see characters like themselves in books.

Otto and Russel, his best friend, are also actors, and that is another aspect that caught my attention. I love TV shows and movies, and I’m always curious when that comes into play in books. Otto has had a great success with the sitcom Hammered, where he plays a supporting character and it was nice seeing some behind the scenes action and how success and being different affected Otto. Again, everything was not perfect, which made it more realistic, but also sad and upsetting. Acting was also what fueled the…

Road trip! I’ve never read a road trip book before but I have heard amazing things about the style. And now I can see the appeal. Both characters taking part in the road trip are friends so it was a great opportunity for them to connect and talk, which is ultimately what the book is about: friendships and relationships. Not in a cutesy way but in a personal level. After all, you cannot have a road trip with two friends without them bonding over and learning more things about themselves.

Have you read The Otto Digmore Difference? Were you familiar with Otto?


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