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MiniReview: “Gravity”, Melissa West – @I_am_europe edition!

Title: Gravity (The Taking #1)
Author: Melissa West
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 284
Year: 2012

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.
Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

Ok. I can do this, I can write a whole review in English and since I’ve read the book in English, it should not be impossible. As many of you already know, I have a thing for dystopian books – and that’s why I’m struggling to write my dissertation about the correlation between them and the risk sociologists think society is going to face (if you read something about it on a paper or an article, please tell me!). However, the reason why I chose this one is different. A few weeks ago, the blog took part of a Book Blizt on Collide, the third book of The Taking Saga: the plot and the teaser that came with the post-kit was so fascinating I felt the urge of reading it. But in order to do it, I had to read the first book… so, I did it. And it was not as good as I expected.

The plot was very simple: Ari is going to be the next military leader in a world where humanity became a sort of living antibodies-pump used by the Ancients. The Ancients, there’s no need to tell you, are aliens. The Earth is a mess after a nuclear war that destroyed pretty much everything, so they arrived from space offering their help in the fixing process in change of human antibodies, needed to survive on the planet. The exchange takes place at night and there’s only one rule to follow: you must not peek. Well, Ari takes a look and finds that her Ancient is one of her school mate, Jackson, a gorgeous boy that should not be on Earth at all since the Ancients are not allowed to attend human schools or even be on the planet without permission. She should report this to her dad, who happens to be the chief of the military system, but she does not. And this is the moment when everything starts to change.

As I mentioned before, the plot is simple and catchy. The whole dystopian scenario works really well, even if the author does not spend so many words on it, and the story goes on with a good rhythm. But there is a moment where everything goes wrong, when Melissa West decides to push on the fast forward button and I get lost. Ari is now engaged with Lawrence, who is in love with Ari’s best friend, but she falls for Jackson so fast I actually asked myself if there were missing pages in my eBook. Yet, there’s not love triangle, because feelings evolve so fast that there isn’t time for drama to grow in a decent way. Furthermore, suddenly neither humans nor alien really want the coexistence to happen, and as a result the readers find themselves in a words maze without a logic escape.

Many people I know loved this book and I can understand them. I don’t know if it was my fault – Was I diverted? Did I not read carefully? I don’t know – or if there was something in the book that was not working very well with me. The plot is fine, the writing was good – for what I can tell, I think I proved you enough the struggle I live every time I have to speak/write a foreign language…! –  and the characters were ok despite some choices they made. I still don’t get how it possible for a girl like Ari to trust a boy she never talked to. She was raised to be a leader, she should understand the importance of rules. This young man was an Ancient who spent his whole life sucking her antibodies in order to survive on a Planet where he was not supposed to live on in that very moment! Why didn’t she reported him? The story could evolve in a different way and still lead to the same conclusion, so why did not Melissa West choose a more coherent evolution?

Overall, the storyline was entertaining and the reading was good; plus it was refreshing to finally read a dystopian book that has the main characters trying to stop a war, rather than trying to fight against the system. I don’t think I will continue with the other books, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Special thanks to @_ceciliasaba, who edited the review for me ❤

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#36 Teaser Tue—Thursday!

Martedì l’ho saltato, per annunciare l’apertura delle votazione di #ADateWithThePerfectBookFriendqui trovate il post dove votare e qui quello dedicato al mio candidato, Ronan Lynch -, ma oggi non si scampa: è giornata di teaser, rigorosamente spoiler-free e dritto dalle pagine di Gravity, di Melissa West. Ora, lo so di aver più e più volte dichiarato di voler aspettare prima di affrontare anche questa saga, ma cosa vi devo dire? Sono debole e, complice la pubblicazione di Collide tre giorni fa, non ho saputo resistere al richiamo dello sci-fi distopico. E sono stata pure punita, perché devo pure ammettere che per quanto trama e ambientazione siano formidabili, sto faticando per trovare una connessione con i protagonisti. Non so se sia dovuto a una mia mancanza di concentrazione o ad altro, ma continuo ad avere la sensazione che mi sfugga qualcosa di fondamentale. Vedremo come va a finire, nel frattempo vi lascio con l’estratto!

And then we’re alone, Jackson and me, watching each other, both unsure of what to say next. I walk back toward my house, knowing I don’t have long before Mom calls me inside, and sit down on the porch swing that hangs below our deck. Jackson stops in front of me, close enough so when I rock forward our knees touch.
“What happened today? Everything was fine last night. What happened? Was it the attacks? Do you feel like I’m…” He runs a hand through his hair.
I look up at him, fully absorbing him. “No. It isn’t that. It’s… I don’t know. I just feel so unsure.”
“We’ll get the strategy, Ari. Don’t worry. We’ll get it.”
I clear my throat and glance away. “That’s not what I’m unsure of.”
He seems to consider this for a moment, then kneels on the ground in  front of me so we’re eye to eye. “I remember when this happened,” he says, brushing a finger over a large scar on my left knee. “You were ten and carelessly walking on the edge of your bed with socks on. You slipped and sliced your knee open on the bed corner.”
“How do you…?”
“Five stitches if I remember.” He raises his eyebrows.
“But they were useless because it was all better the next morning. I told my mom I had superpowers. She let me pretend to heal her for the rest of the week.” I smile at the memory, and then realization hits. “It was you, wasn’t it?”
“And this one,” he says, pointing to a tiny scar on my elbow, “happened a year ago. That one worried me. What were you doing on the roof, anyway? You slipped and fell into that big oak over there. You could have broken something, but instead just got a large gash on your arm.”
“Why did you do it? Heal me, I mean.”
“I’ve always looked out for you.”

In the future, only one rule will matter.
Don’t. Ever. Peek.
Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.
Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

[GoodReads]