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.)