Friday, 13 May 2016

The Other Side of Gravity

The Other Side of Gravity

by Shelley Crane

3 out of 5

Synopsis
My name is Maxton and I’m a trader.

I live on a soulless planet where gravity, oxygen, and everything else are sold to the highest bidder on the black market. People are sold on the black market, too. You have to work really hard not to become one of those people. Pay your taxes, keep your friends and family close, and more than anything else—don’t get caught by the Militia. But all the rules changed for me the day I found her.

My name is Sophelia and I’m a stowaway.

I’ve been a slave for almost as long as I can remember. Waiting for the one day, one second, for my proprietor to turn his head so I could run and never look back. Now I'm on the run. And on a planet where no one is on your side and people would turn you in for a good meal or a piece of a silver, being on the run on Landu is the last place you want to be. Until he found me.

I won't survive without him.

I can't breathe without her.



Review
On a distant world, Sophelia has spent more than half her life as a slave. She decides that she has paid her debt to society and that she deserves her freedom. Fighting to escape, she runs into Maxton, the boy that would turn her in to officials twice. The boy that would teach her to be happy.

I received a copy from Netgalley, after being drawn in by that gorgeous cover, and it's also been a while since I read anything Sci-Fi.

I'm still in two minds about this one. It's somewhere between 3-4 stars.
I really did enjoy the world that Crane has created.  Generations ago, humans travelled from Old Earth and colonised a new home. To try and learn from the mistakes that Earth history teaches them, there are many rules enforced. Swearing and uncouth language is prohibited and automatically fined; anyone that wants a carnal relationship has to have a license; everyone has to pay a tax and if they can't, they go into slavery to pay their dues to society.
I liked the details that were sown into the narrative, allowing you to explore this new world. The scientific advancements and the alterations they make to account for the low gravity and oxygen. I found it fascinating, and I really liked how Crane builds this world with a sense of realness.

There is a good dystopian feel to it, as the system that is supposed to make them morally superior actually divides the world into a minority Elite and the majority poor.
I felt sorry for every person in the system, as most of them are simply trying to help their families and to stop their children falling into the pit of slavery. You get the sense that everyone is in some pain or other, but are silent so as not to invite punishment.

The part I wasn't so keen on was the romance. It is overwhelming, pushing all the above into the background. Don't get me wrong, if you like romance, you will love this. I just don't have a romantic bone in my body.
So my problem is that the narrative jumps between the two main characters, providing their first-person point of view. This allows them to take turns in gushing over the other and admiring the other's many wonderful traits; and constantly thinking that they are not worthy of the other's affection because "she is an angel"/"he is a free man".
There is nothing particularly distinct about their voices, they blurred into one and if it wasn't for the chapter heading telling me whose head we were in, I was going to be lost (I was still lost in some cases).

The plot was good, with some interesting twists. I just felt that it played only a supporting part to the lovey-doveyness.
There were a few... not so much plot-holes, as parts where I questioned the logic.
They all have chips in their arms which identify them and can make snazzy credit payments. If they can automatically fine you for swearing, why can't they track you?
Also, ((mild spoiler)) when Maxton fools the official into giving him Sophelia's reward money, why couldn't they trace that it was transferred to his account?
How come Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum (the idiot twins who I actually quite like) could find Sophelia when the rest of Landu couldn't?
Yes, I know that I'm nit-picking, it just struck me that the "enemy" with all their snazzy technology, are just a bit thick.

So yeah, I really liked the bits I liked, and I would recommend this to anyone that wants a YA romance tied up in a neat Sci-Fi bow.

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

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