Fifteen year old Ariel Donovan's best friend, Jenna, has disappeared. Confused, concerned, and feeling horribly abandoned, Ariel's summer vacation has stretched in a miserable period of isolation and depression. No one, including Ariel, knows what happened to Jenna -- she had stormed out of Ariel's bedroom one night, never to return. Ariel's parents are increasingly overprotective, fearing that Ariel may be snatched up, too, and Ariel feels as though the entire town holds her responsible for Jenna's disappearance. Distraught by the absence of her friend and her loss of autonomy, Ariel views her approaching sophomore year with dread.
As the school year begins, Ariel is vulnerable -- friendless and at the bottom of the hierarchy. The children of the wealthy elite run the school, relentlessly bullying any who get in their way. Even the school principle shows favoritism towards the popular, especially the beautiful Lainey, the reigning "Mean Girls" queen of their high school. Ariel is shunned by her entire class, even the girls in her old clique, and is now defenseless against Lainey without her former defender, Jenna. When Lainey claims handsome new student Henry as her own, Ariel becomes an even bigger target of Lainey's as Henry begins showing interest in both girls.
While the story is initially slow-paced, Boyd uses that time to naturally develop her characters and storyline. She shows excellent characterization: Ariel is genuine and very self-aware, painfully self-conscious of her low station in the school ranks. Her romance with friendly, mysterious Henry comes off as natural and not forced, unlike most young-adult novels (so refreshing!). The other characters of the school are realistic, even while remaining stereotypical: jokester Alex can be tolerable when he lets down his guard, beautiful Lainey will stop at nothing to get her way and Ariel honestly does not want to get in Lainey's way.
"Gravity" quickly begins gripping and addicting. It is a fascinating mystery story, albeit very complicated. This book finished on a high note, and I am left anxious for the second installment. Hopefully the second book will wrap up all of the unanswered questions left by the first. I definitely recommend!!
(Disclaimer: The author provided me with a free copy of this ebook.)
Shelter (Blood Haze: Book One)
on July 25, 2011
"Shelter" provides an interesting interpretation on vampire lore. These vampires are not immortal, they simply age well. They do not perish from holy water or fear garlic, and a bullet to the heart will do just as well as a stake. Most importantly: vampires are a race, not a communicable disease. Our protagonist is Alice, a seventeen year old vampiress who is forced to enroll into human high school for her last year of school. She is reluctant to enroll -- after all, humans are purely food.
Alice immediately falls head over heels for whiny, downtrodden Kai. Alice is a sweet soul and is immediately attracted to the wounded underdog, who she does not realize is entangling her into a potentially emotionally abusive/controlling relationship ("Promise you'll never leave me," he says early in their relationship. On day two, he texts, "I love you," and he is prone to calling her obsessively and violent bursts of jealousy. All in all, he makes a horrifying example of young love for the pre-teen set). Almost immediately, she meets another sexy, magnetic, new student Max, who is also inexplicably drawn to Alice and who charms her with his heart of gold. As a reader, I felt zero attachment towards these characters. They never felt realistic, they were always unnatural caricatures.
Shuler has composed a short, fast-paced story that makes for a quick read. This book is suited towards a younger audience, who will find the heated kissing scenes scintillating and who will not judge the characters for their lame dialogue or their frighteningly rapid attachments.
(Disclaimer: I was provided with a free ebook by the author for the purpose of this review.)