Written by: Melissa West
Published by: Entangled Teen
Release date: October 30th, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: 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.
I seem to be reading a lot of books lately where the plot is ok and might have worked – except for the mostly unmemorable and one-dimensional characters. This is definitely one of those books.
Ari is the exception – she’s a kick-butt girl, for sure. She can take care of herself, think quickly under pressure, and is super confident despite having a lot to live up to. For the most part, I liked her. However… all of the other characters fell flat for me. Ari’s friends were incredibly one-dimensional, and for the most part seemed to just be present to either facilitate “helpers” for Ari to have around when she needed them, or just to stir up trouble.
Jackson was a little better – he’s definitely a nice guy, also driven and talented, and really sweet with Ari… but his personality was completely boring, for me. And Ari’s and Jackson’s relationship was one of my biggest issues with this book. When Ari has been trained her whole life not to trust the Ancients, and then she’s faced with a popular guy from school who turns out to be one, and he tells her that she has to give up her government’s secrets… I expected a lot more resistance. She obviously wants to do the right thing and stop anyone (including the Ancients) from being wrongfully hurt – which is admirable, especially when it comes to deciding to trust the enemy with her government’s top-secret info. That seems like something you should put some serious thought into. But after being trained her whole life to work for her own government and prepare for an eventual war with the Ancients, she’s way too quick to trust that Jackson is telling the truth. There was the token “but why should I trust you?” moment, but it ended up sounding like she was asking after already having decided to trust him (for no reason). I guess she needed to seem like she was actually “doing her homework”, so to speak. So as much as I liked Ari’s character otherwise, this was a huge deal, and flew in the face of everything else we’re led to believe about her, and how smart she is.
This one issue permeated the entire book, for me – whenever Jackson asked Ari to trust him about something (which was a lot), all I could think was, “But why??” Same with the romance – there was no chemistry at all, and the whole thing just had me going, “But why does she feel this way?”
Another (slightly smaller) issue I had was with the worldbuilding. We’re thrown a hundred details about the world and the technology, and its current state with the Ancients – which is all fairly interesting. West has created a complex and detailed world here, for sure. But amid all the detail-overload, we’re just expected to roll with it without any real explanation, especially about the Earth’s history with the Ancients.
While the Ancient’s backstory was definitely lacking, the Ancients themselves were pretty interesting as an alien race. But I found some things about them a little strange and random – like, why can they travel through trees (yes, trees)? This makes very little sense and isn’t really dealt with. There might be a really good reason that just isn’t explained in this first book, but the lack of explanation just made that detail seem random and strange, not really adding anything to their background or to the plot, other than setting up some creepy scenarios.
However, I did give this book 3 stars, and that’s solely because, for some inexplicable reason, I couldn’t put it down. All my problems with it aside, I did find it to be really entertaining, and very exciting. There was a feeling of tension throughout the book that made me want to keep turning the pages, no matter how annoyed I was with any of the characters. It was fast-paced (for the most part), and ultimately I was just super curious to find out how everything would play out.
Will I pick up the next book? I’m honestly not sure. The ending definitely leaves you wanting to know more, but after all my issues with this one, I’m not sure I care enough about the characters to continue. We’ll see.