Saturday, 1 December 2012
Review: Gravity by Melissa West
Gravity by Melissa West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review based on an e-galley provided by Entangled Publishing.
I was first taken by the beautiful cover. It's just gorgeous. Then I read the first chapter and knew I had to read the rest. The extract ends with Ari saying, "Everything that just happened is swarming my thoughts at once, but one thought rises above all the others... I'm not sure I can wait until tomorrow night to find out what's going on." That summed up how I felt exactly. The premise of the story really grabbed me from the start and I wanted to see what would happen next. A sci fi, dystopian, young adult novel. And interesting combination!
Ari Alexander is 17, the daughter of one of the most powerful and respected families, not just in the city of Sydia, but in all of America, and indeed the world. Her father is the Engineer General, and she has trained her whole life to take his place.
Following the last, devastating world war, the Earth was invaded by a race of aliens known as The Ancients. The Ancients offered to terraform the Earth and make it habitable again, but they extracted a price from the human leaders. In order to survive on Earth they required human antibodies; every human, once they reach age 10, become a host for an Ancient who harvests their antibodies in a process known as "the taking". One night, Ari can't find her patch, the seemingly innocuous piece of cloth that renders humans helpless during the taking. Finding herself unable to resist, she opens her eyes, curious about the Ancient who takes from her every night. She is shocked to find her classmate, Jackson Locke. Could it be possible that the Ancients are living among them, masquerading as human?
Jackson promises her answers, but she has to wait. What she discovers causes her to question everything she's ever known. War between the Ancients and humans is looming. Which side will Ari choose? Will she stop the war or help destroy the Ancients and free humans from their perceived slavery?
I loved the first three quarters of the book. It was pacey and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. Ari is a strong character who is faced with a difficult moral dilemma. Gretchen, as her best friend, is less well developed. We know she loves fashion, but don't really get a good sense of who she is. Lawrence, the other member of their trio, is even more duty bound than Ari. I'd have liked to see more of him. Jackson is charismatic and mysterious and it's little wonder that Ari falls for him quite quickly. There is a nice amount of romantic development, but it doesn't overshadow the main story.
The last quarter of the book wasn't as satisfying. The build towards the climax seemed quite rushed and the first person present tense narrative, difficult to pull off at the best of times, got a little messy at points. There were a couple of sentences which could have been more tightly edited, but then I am quite pedantic.
This is the first of a series, not a stand alone novel, so of course the ending leaves a lot of loose ends and lots more room for development. I look forward to finding out about Loge, the Ancients' home world and seeing what exactly Jackson has planned.
It's reminiscent of recent YA offerings, particularly Matched and Divergent and stacks up well against them. At one point I thought it might even be better than Matched, but I found the final quarter of the book somewhat dissatisfying.
Definitely worth a read, even if you're not normally a fan of sci fi.
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