The Taking, Book 1
Author: Melissa West
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
Source: e-ARC for Book Tour
Description from Goodreads:
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.
First Sentence: "I stare out my window into the darkness, hoping to see them—or rather him."
I am, of course, inextricably drawn to all dystopias, but the gorgeous cover on this one bumped it up my TBR pile. Plus, the fact that it's about aliens intrigued me. A straight up science fiction plot line sounded refreshing and like it left room open for serious originality. Gravity did not turn out to be quite what I was hoping for, but still proved an engaging read.
The world building of Gravity left me with copious amounts of questions. For example, I would dearly love to know what the first contact between the Ancients and the humans was like. Surely, this would be remembered. However, what I do know is pretty cool. The Ancients are fascinating. Driven from their home world as it dries up, they have been moving to Earth slowly in exchange for keeping peace there. They have the ability to look human, although oddly tanned, beautiful and with strange eyes that shift from blue to green (my eyes totally do this, so if I ever tanned, I would totally look like an Ancient...minus the insanely beautiful thing). I would also love to know more about how they gave themselves a human appearance.
Well, there is one other weird thing about the Ancients. Their bodies consist largely of a different substance than water. As one might expect, they are biologically different. Per the deal with the leaders of Earth, the Ancients obtain their nutrients by taking them from humans every night. People put on immobilizing masks and sleep and Ancients come in the windows and leech nutrients. If they wanted to, the Ancients could kill via this same method. This process is called 'the taking.' Criminals must love this society, since everyone's got their windows unlocked and is lying immobile in bed, but whatever.
Ari is studing to be an Operator, sort of like a police officer/soldier/special agent, so far as I understand it. Her father is the Commander, the second most powerful man in the United States' government. She will inherit this role. Though she's only seventeen, she is engaged to be married to the President's son, Lawrence. She likes him, but not romantically; their engagement is solely political. Ari's training involves a lot of fighting and she does kick butt.
While all of that stuff makes a captivating premise, Gravity sticks much too closely to the standard romance formula. Ari falls into the category of gorgeous heroines that feel average and that every guy wants, complete with a less attractive and talented best friend to envy her success with menfolk. The two most popular guys want to be with Ari. Go figure.
The book opens with Ari unable to find her sleeping mask. As such, she is awake when her Ancient comes for 'the taking.' She discovers that he is just as attractive as she imagined, and also that he goes to her school, none other than the gorgeous Jackson. Now that they have this bond, they have no choice but to instalove. In a matter of weeks, they go from never having conversed to being in love forever, despite the disapproval of their parents. Pardon me while I hurl. Even worse, Jackson does that thing where he tries to end things because he's no good for her. This trope makes me crazy!
My other issue was that, though I read everything, it felt as though I had missed things. For example, Ari and Jackson were working together to try to figure out a way to prevent war between the Ancients and the humans, and Lawrence (nicknamed Law apparently, which is stupid) was jealous of this guy (who had a girlfriend) edging in on his lady. Then, all of a sudden, Lawrence is part of the plan and calling Jackson 'Jack.' When did they bond? Some things just felt like they came out of the blue.
This first book of The Taking reads quickly, and whets the appetite for some darker books. I hope to see more world building and less of a focus on romance in the next installment.
Favorite Quote: "'You define what makes you proud, not someone else, and definitely not rules that would have you watch your friend get beaten.'"
"Oh, Gravity" - Switchfoot
"Open Your Eyes" - Snow Patrol
"Breathe" - Angels & Airwaves
And finally, what's a science fiction romance play list without:
"E.T." - Katy Perry
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